Renowned speaker on high-risk kids set to return

Heather Latter

Back by popular demand, Dr. Kiti Freier Randall is returning to the district for a two-day workshop thanks to a partnership between the Rainy River District Substance Abuse Prevention Team, Rainy River District Best Start Network, and Seven Generations Education Institute.
The workshop, entitled “Risk and Resiliency: Changing Trajectories of High-Risk Children and Families through Prevention, Intervention and Systems Change,” will be held Oct. 1-2 from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. at La Place Rendez-Vous.
“Dr. Kiti has been here twice before,” said Ashlee Grimard, program manager at the Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre here.
“When she first came, she did an hour-long keynote,” noted Grimard. “Then the last time we had her in the fall [2014], she did a day and the next morning.
“Now we are bringing her back for two full days.
Dr. Freier Randall is a pediatric neurodevelopmental psychologist with extensive experience, spanning more than 26 years, working with high-risk infant and youth populations.
She has specialized expertise in the area of pre- and post-natal substance exposure, as well as high-risk infants to five-year-olds exposed to trauma and/or drug endangered environments.
“When we asked her to come back, she really wanted to do more community-based planning and I think we are still at the stage where we are trying to engage more people across sectors to understand her messaging and understand the information she is giving, so that we can take that next step,” Grimard explained.
“So hopefully next year, and into the year after, this will continue to be stepping stones for more community-based intervention and integrated intervention,” she added.
Grimard said they are hoping to get people from all different sectors of the community to attend the workshop—from addictions counsellors and health-care professionals to educators, social services workers, law enforcement, and community members.
“Dr. Kiti really focuses on there being no boundaries between services,” Grimard said, adding she’s part of a model in California called the SART model, which is screening, assessment, referral, treatment.
“It’s an array of services across sectors from health to social services to corrections,” Grimard explained.
“There’s judges that sit at this table, there’s child welfare workers, there’s emergency doctors, who all come around and agree to put differences aside and focus on the well-being and intervening with high-risk families.”
Grimard noted that as much as “integration” is the key buzz word in social services and health right now, she believes Rainy River District still is working towards that.
“We have a lot of common tables where you see some agencies coming together,” she noted.
“But when you really look at service provision, we don’t have that wrap-around delivery of services, especially for high-risk families, like we could.
“So I think that is what we would like to work towards,” said Grimard, adding they also have to recognize that there is not one solution.
“I’m not going to be able to provide everything possible to help a family if I don’t have, for example, probation on my side or if I don’t have health on my side,” she stressed.
“It really has to be that wrap-around approach.”
That’s why Grimard is hoping Dr. Freier Randall’s message will reach more people in the community.
She said registration is going well, with 90 people signed up so far.
“We’ve got a really good mix of people but we’re hoping to get more,” Grimard noted.
“I think a lot of people, when they see the risk and resiliency talking about children and families, they assume this is for people working with children and families and it really is not,” she remarked.
“Dr. Kiti focuses on the 0-5 range. But what we see is these kids, as they are coming into the world and they are coming into these high-risk environments, they become adults,” Grimard added.
“And they become adults who access these adult services.
“So I think no matter where you are working across sectors, having this kind of basic understand of where people come from and why people are the way they are is an important understanding to have.”
Grimard said Dr. Freier Randall helps people see things from a different perspective.
“She’s very tangible in the things that she talks about,” Grimard noted. “She’s very story-based, experienced-based.
“Even though she does a fantastic job going over the neuroscience and child development, it’s all interwoven with her personal stories of families she has worked with and situations she has come across.”
Grimard said they’re hoping people who haven’t seen her before will attend. But even if they have, they still should come out.
“What we’ve asked her to do different from what she’s done before is Day 2 is really going to be focused on direct intervention with kids,” Grimard explained.
For instance, Dr. Freier Randall will provide some hands-on strategies, as well as focusing on specific areas of intervention, such as interpersonal difficulties, sensory integration, attachment, etc.
“And what we are really hoping to leave people with is where do we go from here as a community,” Grimard added.
The workshop costs $50 but that’s only to cover the cost of food.
“You could pay $500 to go to something similar if we didn’t have the funding that we have,” Grimard said.
“So we’re really lucky to be able to do this and really proud to be able to bring her back to speak to our community.”
Grimard added members of the community are more than welcome to attend.
“You don’t have to be in a service role to gain something from this,” she stressed.
“If you are a member of this community and feel you have a vested interest in the well-being of this community, you have an interest here.”
There also will be an open session for the public on Oct. 1 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Rendez-Vous.
“It’s geared to parents and caregivers, but it’s open to anybody in the community,” Grimard noted.
“It’s going to be more informal.
“She will start with some stories as themes, then she will have the floor open for questions, answers, dialogue,” Grimard explained.
“We’re promoting [it] as an evening with an expert. You’ll kind of get that one-on-one conversation.
“How often do we have access to someone of her background, considered an expert in her field?” she reasoned.
To register for the two-day workshop, visit and follow the link.
You also can Grimard at 274-3131 for more information.