Upcoming improved system for children and youth with support needs


Neurodiverse children and youth and people with disabilities will benefit from a new system of services that will provide support to children and youth based on their unique needs, with or without a diagnosis.

Currently, children have to wait for help until they are diagnosed. Many children, such as those with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, have very little support, even if they have high needs.

“The current patchwork of programs has left out too many children and youth with support needs,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Child and Family Development. “That’s why we’re putting children and youth at the center of our new system and making it easier for families to get the high-quality services they need, no matter where they live in the province.

Under the new approach, children, young people and their families will be able to quickly access information, expert interventions and therapy at new one-stop family connection centers. These supports and services will be available from birth to age 19 and will be based on the individual needs of a child or youth, regardless of whether they have a referral or a diagnosis. Initially, hubs will open in two regions – the northwest and central Okanagan – from 2023 before being launched across the province in 2024.

“No child should be denied help to meet their needs because they do not have an accurate diagnosis,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility and Deputy Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Council for children and youth with support needs. “Our approach will ensure children and youth have faster access to services and supports in one place, helping them achieve their individual goals. “

The new system will provide support to approximately 8,300 more children and their families, representing a 28% increase in the number of children who will be able to access supports and services for people with disabilities.

“My son has Down syndrome and very complex developmental needs. We contacted the ministry because the current system was not providing adequate support to our rural community, ”said Zev Tiefenbach of Salmon Arm. “We appreciate the ministry hearing that change is needed and that it is developing a comprehensive network that will help more families access the services they desperately need. For us, many of these services are essential for our son to enjoy a quality life, and it is heartwarming that the government is developing a program that puts his needs first.

When the two new hubs become available, parents and caregivers who receive personalized autism funding and extended therapy benefits for school-aged children will have the option of continuing with the supports they have or opting for. rather for the new services and supports of the crossroads. This choice will remain in place until 2025, when hubs will be available province-wide and individualized funding will be phased out.

In addition, changes to make respite services more flexible during the pandemic are being made permanent, ensuring that families can continue to receive services such as counseling, house cleaning and food preparation. Out-of-home stabilization services are being developed to further support parents of children and youth with significant needs.

“While this gradual transition is underway, we are committed to continuing to provide services and supports to children, youth and their families,” said Dean. “We will work with all partners, including Indigenous peoples and families, to make sure we get it right. “

The shift to a needs-based approach to development supports responds to repeated recommendations from the representative for children and youth, the Special All-Party Standing Committee on Children and Youth, and calls for change raised during the consultation with more. of 1,500 Indigenous and non-Indigenous families, advocates and service providers.


Satbir Cheema, President and CEO, Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) –

It can be extremely difficult for parents to have to seek out the best supports for their child, especially for families where English may not be their first language. Services that are culturally safe, inclusive, easy to navigate, and available in a convenient location are essential to ensure that all children and youth with support needs get the help they need.

Dr Matthew Chow, President, Doctors of BC –

“We are enriched as a society by neurodiverse children living with disabilities. I am very happy to see the provincial government move towards a needs-based support system for these children and their families. As a specialist in child and adolescent mental health, I know that neurodiversity and disability don’t always fit well into diagnostic categories. I look forward to the positive impact for everyone involved in the growth and success of our children.

Audrey McFarlane, Executive Director, Canadian FASD Research Network –

“As Executive Director of the Canadian FASD Research Network, I support the new direction the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development is taking to better support children and youth with the disease. of FASD and their families. The new plan is bold in its restructuring of these services and aims to reduce complicated application processes, improve equitable access to services, regardless of diagnosis, and address the levels of complexity that exist in many families.

Joshua Myers, Executive Director, BC Center for Ability –

“After many years of a fragmented and difficult-to-access system for families, we are pleased to see the significant changes proposed in this new approach. We are encouraged by the government’s commitment to improve access for children and families, to provide services based on needs rather than diagnosis alone, and to increase responsibility for providing high-quality and culturally-based services. safe from birth to age 19. These significant changes will require the transition time and resources to fully realize, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Child and Family Development to ensure that all children and youth with special needs additional supports and their families in British Columbia have access to the services they need when and where they need them. “

Christine Bradstock, CEO, Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia –

“Physiotherapists are eager to provide services in a more cohesive support system that removes the current major barriers for families and their children when they find and access the care they need. “

Fast facts:

  • In 2021-22, the province is investing $ 440.6 million to provide services to children and youth with support needs in British Columbia
  • Approximately 30,000 children and youth with support needs access services offered by the Department of Child and Family Development and its contracted service providers.
  • To better serve children who need specialized equipment, funding for medical equipment benefits will increase by $ 10 million as of April 2022.

Learn more:

For more information on the new support system, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/ChildYouthSupportNeeds

Questions about the new service approach can be directed to the child and youth support line resource line: 1 833 882-0024

To learn more about the research and consultation carried out in 2019, visit:

An information document follows.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.