The response to MCFD's announcement has been intense
November 13th, 2021
The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) recently announced an overhaul to its autism funding program.
Among other changes, it will include replacing the individualized funding that families receive with a hub model that requires no diagnosis to access, and will expand services to children with conditions other than autism.
While the ministry's announcement included several endorsements, we wanted to check with advocates and parents in the field to see what their reaction was.
Deborah Pugh, Executive Director, Autism Community Training
"The ministry hasn't increased funding for kids with special needs in years...why haven't they increased funding for structures that already exist if they want to help children?"
It's very complex to provide intervention programs for children with autism. On of my concerns with the MCFD announcement is that families will lose their ability to individualize the program for their child, and that these hubs will become one size fits all.
The economics of this bothers me too. Many families successfully manage their child's funds themselves. Now a lot more money will be spent on hub staff, buildings, and so forth rather than on direct services. If these funds are now also spread across a much larger group of kids, it runs the risk of everyone ending up with little.
The ministry hasn’t increased funding for kids with special needs in years. There are long waits for child development centres, respite, and occupational therapists. Why haven’t they increased funding for structures that already exist if they want to help children?
Cathy McMillan, Dyslexia BC
I would say for the Dyslexia community this announcement is a huge step back
The new statement does nothing for the Dyslexia community. It says more help to individuals without diagnosis and refers to autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, and Down's syndrome, which are all low incidence disabilities yet all come with behaviour and other characteristics that mean they will get noticed more.
Without a diagnosis, kids with dyslexia and other learning disabilities will still be left behind. Diagnosis and assessment is imperative in establishing early intervention and the right kind of supports for students with learning disabilities.
The announcement also says they are putting more money into mental health, which for our kids is the tertiary result of not having their disability met with the proper supports. I would say for the Dyslexia community this announcement is a huge step back and even go as far as saying that it doesn’t really include parameters that will work for us.
Michelle Martin, Advocate and mother of twins with complex needs
Often what government refers to as 'accessing services' just means accessing waitlists for years, and you're made to feel like you're ungrateful if you aren’t satisfied with that.
My reaction to this is so mixed. On one hand, I'm really happy to see something change in this sector because in BC there's been hardly any change in decades.
But there's also a lot of worry that I think most parents are sharing, those with children who receive autism funding and those like me who don’t. I'm worried that the new model will basically be what's already in place, which hasn't been the best.
It might sound like parents are being cynical, but it’s warranted. The government has said it will become easier to access services, but often what they refer to as 'accessing services' just means accessing waitlists for years, and you're made to feel like you're ungrateful if you aren’t satisfied with that.
What I would love to see is individualized funding, and if not that then parents should be able to direct bill the government rather than have it come out of pocket. I want to keep the private therapists we have and trust for the boys; it's so hard to find the right fit and a hub sounds worryingly one size fits all.
Michelle Angela-Rose, Advocate for complex needs families
Families are in need of a holistic approach. The parents are the CEOs of their children's show.
I appreciate that the need for changes to the current funding system is being looked at.
But families do not need to be under any more stress than they are. Families are in need of a holistic approach. The parents are the CEOs of their children's show. Their therapists are their frontline workers. The role of executive secretary is vacant…
Pay the families a monthly guaranteed amount once criteria is met, that they are legally entitled to. Mitzi is very quiet right now, after proposing an idea, with no frame work, and no budget. What is she waiting for?
Paul Caune, Executive Director, Civil Rights Now!
Why take away the individualized funding model for those families who were successfully using it? It makes no sense.
Some people have complained that they weren't consulted enough about these changes, but to me that's wishy-washy and not the big issue.
What bothers me about these changes is that families who had the capacity to manage their child's individualized funding, and to tailor the child's therapy to the child's particular needs, are having that taken away for no good reason.
It's true that some families may not have the capacity to manage their child's treatment and funding, and for them a hub approach may work better, but why take away the individualized funding model for those families who were successfully using it? It makes no sense.
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!