Critics voice concerns with B.C. government’s new service model for children with disabilities | Canadian

Various experts and stakeholders took part in a press conference on Wednesday, which criticized the B.C. government’s overhaul of its funding model for children with disabilities.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development is rolling out a centralized hub model that will include the opening of “Family Connection Centres” throughout B.C. Parents of children with disabilities will be able to access services at these centres.

The plan has come under heavy criticism but the province hasn’t budged.

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”When we give feedback that is saying, ‘what the ministry and the government is doing will either cause further harm or exacerbate the harm already happening,’ it should make there be pause,” said Nicole Kaler, a BCEDAccess spokesperson.

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Parents and other representatives at Wednesday’s conference pointed to low funding, a lack of consultation, complex bureaucracy, barriers for Indigenous families and the need for immediate short-term help as concerns with the new model.

”While I support long term change, (the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s) plan does nothing to support children and families who are struggling right now,” said Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth, a B.C. Representative for Children and Youth spokesperson.

”MCFD has said its plan will expand services to 8,300 additional children across B.C., but the ministry does not have the resources to properly serve the children currently on its caseload. How will even more families be served without more money or resources being put into a system that’s already very under-resourced?”

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The province said the upcoming changes will give families better access to care than the current model of individualized funding.

”We are deeply concerned about the bureaucracy of a centralized system, the lack of autonomy for disabled individuals to decide what type of care is good for them within the proposed framework, and the probable scarcity of specialized support for a relatively rare diagnosis like Down syndrome with a one-size-fits-all model,” said Tamara Taggart, Down Syndrome B.C.’s president.

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The province said the upcoming changes will give families better access to care than the current model of individualized funding.

The family connection centres are expected to open in 2025.

Global News has reached out to the Ministry of Children and Family Development for further comment.

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