BC Announces Move to a New Model Community Center for Children with Special Needs

The first centers will open in 2023 and then launch across the province in 2025.

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BC is moving toward a new community center model that it says would help children and youth with developmental challenges get the support they need faster.


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At a press conference on Wednesday, the provincial government announced that the new program will replace the current “patchwork of programs” that many families find difficult to navigate.

“In the current system, if you are the parent of a child and you begin to notice that they are not meeting their milestones, you are worried about them, you think that maybe their speech is not going so well, it is really difficult to know where to turn to”, said Mitzi Dean, minister of child and family development.

Families of neurodiverse children and youth currently need a diagnosis to access funding, which can take a couple of years.

Under the new program, neurodiverse children and their families will be able to go to a comprehensive “family connection center” in their community where they will be able to access a variety of professionals and services regardless of whether they have a referral or a diagnosis, Dean said. .


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The first centers will open in 2023 in the northwest and central Okanagan, although exact locations have yet to be determined. The program will then launch across the province in 2025.

Parents who receive individualized funds for autism and extended therapy benefits for school-age children will have the option to continue their existing supports or switch to the new central system until 2025, when individualized funding is eliminated.

Zev Tiefenbach, a Salmon Arm father, said trying to get support for his son who has Down syndrome and epilepsy was challenging.

“We ended up having to go to the coast for services, which was incredibly disruptive for our family as we have three grown children,” he said, adding that services were so fragmented that he and his wife ended up having to act as “complete ”. “time” case managers for your child.


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Tiefenbach said he was “encouraged” by Wednesday’s announcement. “The centers will help British Columbia residents get services in their communities, which I think is really important.”

The British Columbia government has increased funding to support children and youth in support needs by $ 13 million in the 2021 budget, Dean said.

Approximately 30,000 children and young people access the services offered by the Ministry of Child and Family Development and its service providers. The ministry estimates that the new system will help about 8,300 more children and their families, an increase of 28 percent.

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