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Ann Bilodeau - KW Habilitation

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your organization?

Ann Bilodeau is the Chief Executive Officer of KW Habilitation. KW Habilitation is a medium sized non-profit organization as designated by the Ministry of Children Community Social Services. KW Habilitation serves 1,000 individuals and their family members providing programs and services for children, youth and adults with a developmental/intellectual disability. The organization has three main streams of services; Community and Employment Supports, Early Learning Child Care and Family Resources, and Inclusive Living.

Bilodeau discussed the growth of their Early Learning programming and special needs resourcing over the past year. They have supported the integration of 1,100 children in licensed daycares within Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, and Guelph. Enhanced staffing of early childhood educators in schools support the transition of kids into the public school board programs. The Entry to School program includes a multidisciplinary team of a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst, Intervention Therapist, Autism Assistant, Speech and Language and Occupational Therapist, as well as the Resource Consultants to plan a successful pathway.

Ann also highlighted the growth with the affordable housing programs at KW Habilitation over the past 5-6 years. They have 26 inclusive living sites and have built affordable housing for the community in Waterloo. They have an 18 unit building that is shovel ready and waiting on funding to complete. The organization’s LEG Up! program helps connect the community and build skills that support independence, self-awareness and self-advocacy. This program is now available for registration online.

What drew you to KW Habilitation? How has the organization changed since?

Ann is the most senior member of staff at KW Habilitation and has just celebrated her 45th anniversary at the agency. Through her time at the organization she has been able to move throughout and experience many different roles, from HR director to CEO. She has been able to see the growth of their housing programming from only 2 houses from where they are now. Bilodeau also reflected on how developmental service agencies in the past didn’t focus on early learning. Now in collaboration with KidsAbility, they are able to provide resourcing and clinical side of early learning. In her 45 years, Ann is continually impressed by the growth of the organization and remains passionate about the significant change they continue to make within our community.

What do you like most about KW Habilitation?

Through her time with KW Habilitation, Ann has always admired the resiliency of the organization. They are always leading edge and willing to try new things. For example, they have farms that grow produce and supply fresh fruit and vegetables to their homes. The program has allowed for partnerships with other organizations such as The Working Group. The Farm is all unfunded and utilizes KW Habilitation’s existing land. The CBC covered their Farm programming and you can hear more about it here.

Can you tell us what your role(s) is/are with the OHT?

KW Habilitation is a member organization of the KW4 Ontario Health Team. Ann recognizes that developmental services are not known within the health community as much as it needs and should be. When Bilodeau first got involved she found it important to share about developmental services but also learn about what was happening at the OHT table. During those discussions she found great alignment between the OHT’s priorities and KW Habilitation’s work. The priorities included precariously housed, new Canadians, and mental health, which overlaps with the people with developmental/intellectual disabilities. This highlighted to Ann that this knowledge exchange is instrumental to the work with both groups.

During the beginning of COVID they were instrumental to the crisis response team and finding housing. Working with the OHT and other members, KW Habilitation provided pop up clinics with vaccinations and testing for those utilizing their services. This work led to their involvement on the Mental Health and Addiction subcommittee with the OHT. KW Habilitation sees dual diagnosis between MH&A and intellectual disabilities. With the OHT they want to be involved, facilitate learning and stay engaged to share their resources to support the work of the OHT.

How does your organization align with the values and goals of the OHT?

Ann sees many similarities between the values and the KW4 OHT. Their strategic priorities are to Create, Align and Strengthen. The alignment priority propels the engagement between the OHT and helps the operation plans to match the priorities of the OHT. Seamless health for every Ontarian, includes those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. KW Habilitation supports the OHT’s vision of “a community where everyone thrives and no one is left behind”.

What do you hope to see in the near future with your continued partnership with the OHT?

Through relationships with other organizations, Ann has seen the varying levels of engagement between members and their OHTs. She is glad to see the strong involvement of all members in KW4 and their efforts in working together towards the common goal. She looks forward to continuing to see community services at the table, and not solely health services. Ann recognizes the importance of having both at the table in order to provide seamless services. Having a community service provider co-chairing the steering committee makes our OHT unique. Our community is what we need to listen to and drives all of our work.


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