Our daughter loves learning and is a strong student but, over the years, her anxiety has become so linked with the over-stimulating school environment that she can’t even do schoolwork at home it is so stressful for her. In our entire region, there does not exist a program that she is eligible for, where she could attend school in a small classroom environment, with only a handful of other kids. This is how I see her being the most successful. There are also huge holes in the public health and school systems in terms of programming. Early on, she wasn’t eligible for any of the specialized programs offered through Alberta Health Services, or private programs, because they “only work with students whose academics are affected by their disorders”. Because she was strong academically, she didn’t qualify. Over the years, though, she has attended school less and less due to anxiety. Her academics are certainly affected now; she has not attended enough school this year even to pass her grade. She wants to go to school, and recognizes it is important, but struggles with it so much. We have worked with many levels of support over the years – from psychiatrists, to psychologists, to inpatient programming, to behaviour consultants, to family support workers – yet here we still are, in a situation where our bright, creative, nurturing daughter does not attend school. She feels shame, guilt, and depression, and questions what the point of living is. If you could see with your own eyes what she struggles with on a daily basis, you wouldn’t doubt for a moment what a critical issue this is, because our daughter is only one of many. And the impact of school refusal reaches beyond her. I have been off work now for two years to support her. I was a contractor before so there are no unemployment benefits that I can access, and no funding for parents in our situation. My husband has had to get a second job, beyond the full-time job he already has. The emotional impact of trying to support our daughter has taken a significant mental and physical toll on me, and our home environment is very challenging, as we all (my husband and I also have a son) cope with the fallout of her anxiety and school refusal.