Moving away from the individualized funding model for families with neurodiverse children will cost $172 million over three years as BC transitions to delivering services through a “needs-based” community hub model.
It’s a system change that brought parents of autistic children, advocates and the official opposition to a protest outside the BC legislature recently, but it’s also a protest that the government, will be more accessible to families across the province.
The $172 million figure was presented in British Columbia’s 2022 budget, released Tuesday, February 22.
The majority of this amount ($114 million) is intended to initiate the transition to the needs-based system. The budget says this change, effective April 1 this year, includes full coverage of the cost of essential medical equipment and supplies, such as wheelchairs.
The remaining $58 million is earmarked for increased costs associated with the projected growing demand for children and youth in need of support.
Services for young people with autism and other support needs will be run from what the government calls Family Connection Centres. These sites will open in the northwest and central Okanagan regions in 2023, and they will serve as pilot programs that will inform province-wide implementation when it begins in 2024.
“These will provide accessible and inclusive services through a community agency to all families, whether or not they have a diagnosis, based on their child’s unique needs,” the budget says. British Columbia touted the new system not requiring medical diagnosis as one of its strengths.
Continued consultations with families, service providers and Indigenous communities “will ensure a smooth transition for all families,” according to the budget. At a recent protest against system change, parents told Black Press Media that consultation has so far been lacking and feels like a one-sided conversation where the province just says what it does instead than listening to concerns.
British Columbia budget