Children’s Treatment Centre has funds for new building

From left, Children’s Treatment Centre staff Tina Jameson, speech therapist; Billy Yacks, maintenance; Donna Litwin-Makey, executive director; and Angela Reddick, communications disorder specialist, all stand behind the wall of community donations the centre received in the past several years. Litwin-Makey said the centre could not have gotten the latest provincial funding without all the community support.

The Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent is getting a major upgrade after the provincial government announced it will provide capital funding for a new building.

Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy released the 2021 Ontario Budget on March 24.

“It is a dream come true; it is still sinking in,” said Donna Litwin-Makey, executive director of the centre.

“We know it’s a big investment for Chatham-Kent. Our kids and families are so important and this really shows the value of our kids and helps give them what they deserve.”

The Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent is one of 20 throughout the province.

Mike Grail, chair and founder of the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation, called the budget a “double win” because all children’s treatment centres across Ontario got a total of a $60 million base budget increase annually for three years. The additional funding will allow the centre to hire more staff and provide more services while building on their existing ones.

“I am absolutely ecstatic. This is something we’ve been working toward formally for five years, to build the new centre, and it’s been 14 years since we’ve had this vision of being able to get kids off the waiting list and provide them with the services so desperately needed and deserved.”

The centre serves one in five children in Chatham-Kent, when taking into account the school-aged services which pay children visits in schools. There are approximately 4,000 families for Chatham-Kent’s caseload.

There are currently more than 1,300 children on the waitlist, according to Grail.

“I think we often find, when you talk to families, often they know of someone who comes to the centre. So we do have a lot of programs and meet and greet a lot of families,” Litwin-Makey said.

Programs and services vary from newborn screening clinics, speech and language pathology, recreational activities and aid for kids with higher needs.

“The building we’re in was built for just a small caseload, just 250 children. And now with such growth. Our caseloads and the number of staff have gone up really high so we need more space for groups, programs and school-aged children,” Litwin-Makey said.

The new centre, which will be located on McNaughton Avenue West across from St. Clair College Thames Campus, will be a 55,000-square-foot facility with state-of-the-art efficiency.

“We are absolutely set to break ground as quickly as possible,” Grail said. “We put a lot of things in place to date and have gone through a functional plan so we’re well on our way.”

Construction is expected to begin in the next three to four months while architectural designs and the environmental assessment are completed. The building should take 12 to 18 months to complete after that, Grail anticipated.


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