Notice of Appointment – New Executive Director at the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre

The Board of Directors are excited to announce the appointment of Karen Dickenson Smith as Executive Director of the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre, effective April 6, 2020. Ms. Dickenson Smith succeeds Karen McLean who served as Executive Director for 22 years prior to her retirement.

View the news article here

Fraser Valley Child Development Centre earns Three-Year CARF Accreditation

CARF International announced that Fraser Valley Child Development Centre has been accredited for a period of three years for its Behavioral Consultation Services (Children and Adolescents), Child and Youth Services, and Family Services programs. The latest accreditation is the sixth consecutive Three-Year Accreditation that the international accrediting body, CARF, has given to Fraser Valley Child Development Centre.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be given to an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable, and of the highest quality.

Fraser Valley Child Development Centre nonprofit organization with offices in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.  It has been providing child development services in the Fraser Valley since 1982. 

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process and continuous improvement services that center on enhancing the lives of the persons served. Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF International, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services. For more information about the accreditation process, please visit the CARF website at

For additional information, contact Karen McLean, Executive Director 604-852-2686 x2227


PlayWorks is a supportive and informal drop in opportunity for families with children 0-5 years old.  It is a time for parents/caregivers to play with their child, and explore questions, concerns and successes about their child's development in a relaxed environment.  All families with young children (including young siblings) are welcome.  Each session is hosted by FVCDC staff.

The free group meets on Wednesdays from 3:30pm-5:00pm beginning September 18, 2019 at the Sweeney Neighbourhood Centre.

Contact 604-852-2686 for more information.  Registration for this program is not required.

Screen Time and Children Who Have Autism: Moderation is the Key

Technology is all around us, and our children typically use it as much as we do.  Often parents really want to purchase a tablet for their child, as they have either heard that this is very beneficial for children on the spectrum, or that a tablet can be used as a communication device for their child. If the device is being used as an educational tool with specialized apps, I often caution parents to limit 'screen time,' that is time spent engaged with cell phones, tablets, laptops, televisions or other devices.

Although these devices can have many benefits, it can be challenging to find a healthy balance between children's screen time and other activities. A Kaiser Foundation Report from 2010 suggested that elementary aged children in the U.S. used entertainment technology for 7 1/2 hours per day! This fact makes me wonder: how much screen time is too much?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children spend no more than 2 hours per day on devices. The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that children from the ages of 2 to 5 years have no more than an hour of screen time per day.  However, Dr. Jodi Gold in her book Screen Smart Parenting (2015)  suggests that we focus more on the content and how the technology is used than the amount of use. Although there isn't a lot of research on the impact of technology on children with autism, we do see early indications that electronics can have benefits and dangers. Many devices and programs are powerful learning tools. It is also clear, though, that human interaction is the best way to support learning, and technology should not replace social interaction. We also know that technology use reduces physical activity and affects sleep (that is, night time technology use can be overstimulating and make it harder for children to fall asleep).  There are also safety concerns related to identity theft, cyber-bullying and exposure to inappropriate content.

A limit of two hours per day of 'screen time' and parental supervision and awareness of children's technology use seems like a reasonable limit, especially for children under the age of 6.


Silent Auction Art Speaks Loudly

If there is a visual image associated with Rick Mercer, it has to be the vibrant colours of the graffiti-covered Toronto alley way where he films his weekly "rants". The birght, loud colours splashed on brick walls in a gritty back alley are the perfect backdrop for his equally loud and gritty commentaries on current events.

It is this association that led organizers of the upcoming Rick Mercer Rant and Raise to the idea of having an artist create an art piece during the event - something that would reflect both Rick's ranting voice and give voice to the famlies supported by the event. Contemparary artist Linda Klippenstein was chosen for this task and she is excited to be part of this fundraiser for the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre and Matthew's House.

I love Rick Mercer and I love both these organizations. It's a great opportunity for me to be a part of this and support this work." - Linda Klippenstein, artist


Klippenstein is a mixed-media artist who creates art in a variety of styles. For the Rick Mercer Rant and Raise she will create a piece on-site that pays homage to the vibrant voice of Mercer's rants and a piece that can be incorporated into any contemporary environment.

"The goal is to have a fabulous art piece for someone's home or office that will have a dynamic, colourful, vibrant feel", she explains.

Klippenstein has recently been exploring resin art which she will create that evening adding vibrant colours. These are poured onto a prepared canvas. At the event, she'll be working in a roped-off area with the canvas close to the ground so that guests can see the work in progress. The art piece will be sold by silent auction that evening. Klippenstein loves the way art has been incorporated into this unique fundraising event.

"People who come will be supporting two really great organizations that do important work in our community", she says. "It's gratigying to think that this artwork will go home with someone as a reminder of the evening and of the support they've given to Matthew's House and the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre. I'm so glad that my art can give voice to this work".

To see more of Klippenstein's art visit her website

A Message from our CEO's - Karyn & Karen

It is a privilege for us to be able to bring such an exciting event to our shared community and to support families in this unique way. Matthew’s House and the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre complement each other well. We share a belief that all children are born with unique strengths, gifts and needs. We believe that parents know their children best and we exist to provide support and resources to strengthen and encourage families. We believe that inclusive communities are strong communities.

This event is an opportunity for you to partner with us and ensure that these important resources will continue to be offered to families who need them. We know that an Evening with Rick Mercer will be a unique and entertaining experience.

We look forward to welcoming you and your guests to what will surely be an evening to remember.

The Value of Consistency in Parenting by Gabriel Canal Guest Blogger

During the 10 years I've been working as a Behaviour Consultant, I've heard the words "pick your battles" from educators thousands of times. What they mean is that if you see your chlid acting out, you have a choice to make: (a) you intervene and be consistent with the consequences you set, or (b) you simply do not intervene. No educator will tell you to set a boundary that you later cannot follow through on. Doing that could make your words lose the power they have, and could teach the child that she can get away with breaking the rules.

My experience has shown me that consistency is a key component in parenting. I am not only talking about the consistency between words and actions (e.g., if I say that I will give you a cookie, that I will deliver the cookie), but I am also talking about consistency in terms of responding to inappropriate behaviours.

Many times, in our work, we use a strategy called extinction (that is, extinction of the reinforcer that keeps the inappropriate behaviour going). In other words, extinction means that if a child misbehaves (e.g., screams) to obtain candy, we will not give him candy any more when he misbehaves. We know that if we are consistent with not giving the screaming child the candy, and if at the same time we consistently provide the candy when the child asks for it nicely, we will reduce screaming and increase appropriate requests for candy.

Many times, parents start implementing extinction plans and they find that the child's behaviour escalates (i.e., increases in frequency, duration, and/or intensity). With extinction, that increase is expected and it does not mean that the strategy is not working. After all, the child knows that screaming gets him candy, so he will try and try even harder, louder, or for longer periods of time. This is a crucial moment in the implementation of a behaviour plan that uses extinction. If a parent gives in and ends up giving the candy when the child screams louder or for a longer period of time, that parent might be teaching the child "if you want to get candy, screaming isn't enough, you need to scream louder or longer to get it."

Therefore, being consistent is extremely important when changing behaviour. We need to make our words match our actions, giving our words power and giving the child a reliable and consistent parent.

Gabriel Canal, Behaviour Consultant- Positive Parenting and Behaviour Support Program- FVCDC

Working on Intervention Goals at Home

Parents often ask what they can do at home to work on their child's early intervention goals. Here at Next Step Autism Program, we ask parents to identify their priorities for their child's intervention program. Together we can then look for activities at home where these priority goals can be addressed. Since young children spend more time at home with their families than anywhere else, these activities provide many more opportunities to embed teaching trials into a child's daily routine.

For example, a child may have the communication goal of requesting items or 'manding' using single words. This child's parents may have identified communication skills as a priority. So, we can brainstorm with family to see when and how teaching trials can occur at home. Mealtime is one regular activity that can provide many opportunities to request, and we can teach parents ways to work on requesting skills at that time.  When families combine teaching at home with sessions at our Centres, skills are learned more quickly, may be retained longer and are used in a greater range of situations as a result. It's a win-win!