Dr. Keith Da Silva is an assistant professor at the College of Dentistry.
Dr. Keith Da Silva is an assistant professor at the College of Dentistry.

Research focused on income, housing security for residents with FASD

Dr. Keith Da Silva's research interest came from helping with a student-operated dental clinic in Saskatoon.

Research planned by Dr. Keith Da Silva (DDS), assistant professor at USask’s College of Dentistry, and Andrea Kotlar, executive director of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Network of Saskatchewan, will examine financial and housing welfare of provincial residents with FASD.  

The collaborative project will reach out to those who have lived experience with FASD to better understand their barriers to accessing government income and housing assistance programs.  

Da Silva, who is on the board of the FASD Network, said his interest in this area of research came from helping with a free USask dental clinic in Saskatoon. He said watching and helping patients navigate social assistance for dental care highlighted the interconnectedness of Saskatchewan’s social systems, as well as the need for more research into these areas. 

“Through our attempts to highlight a problem that is unique to this population, it leads to more resources down the road,” Da Silva said. “These clients need navigators; they can’t do it on their own.” 

Kotlar said many of their clients with FASD are part of the low-income demographic, and government supplemental programs — such as the recently changed Saskatchewan Income Support program — are not providing an adequate income for those affected by FASD.  

“Some people have to make the tough decision about, if they pay rent, maybe they don’t eat. Or if they decide to spend money on food or clothing, they can’t necessarily pay rent,” she said.  

The research project will examine a previously untapped area of focus by looking specifically at housing security.  

The project received funding of $9,832 from the University of Saskatchewan’s donor-funded Pathways to Equity initiative. Projects funded by the initiative involve collaborations between USask researchers and community leaders, aim to provide better understanding of a variety of housing issues for Saskatchewan residents.

Read the full story with news of additional Pathways to Equity research at news.usask.ca.