ACT’s Free Fall-Spring Events Season – available live and online across Canada & around the world
Registration is open for ACT’s free Fall/Spring series of web streamed presentations by speakers who will inspire and inform. This initiative is in response to the concerns of families and individuals across the world, affected by autism and other special needs, who have been isolated by the pandemic. ACT is responding to their requests for practical resources that are accessible from their homes. These free events are open to anyone who is interested, internationally, but the focus is on supporting caregivers. View All Upcoming Events
ACT’s Fall-Spring Season of Free Events has been made possible by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Support Fund in collaboration with the Vancouver Foundation; the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders [POPARD], as well as our generous individual donors.
Please consider donating to ACT – as little as $10 a month is a great help. Support ACT’s work.
BC Election Disability Focus
As BC’s snap election campaign accelerates, many affected by disability are feeling disengaged, after months of being ignored by the current government during the pandemic, and years of neglect by successive governments. But there is time to ask the candidates where they stand. To help, ACT has put together a special Elections 2020 page. Here you will find links to the excellent resources put together by other BC organizations focused on disability rights in the run-up to October 24, Election Day 2020. ACT is also calling on professionals and para-professionals to speak out for change.
Survey Report: Pandemic Canadian Autism Needs Assessment
Over 1,000 responses to a national survey, carried out by McMaster University this summer, point to the severe impact of the pandemic on autistic individuals and those who support them across Canada. Particularly concerning is the impact on mental health.
BCEdAccess Exclusion Tracker
The hard working volunteers at BCEdAccess have published the first survey result for this school year’s ‘Exclusion Tracker’. Early indicators are overwhelming: schools are failing to ensure that ministry directives are being followed, more parents are reporting that their children with disabilities are being excluded from BC schools.
“[The survey] asked if the school-based teams had made the families aware of the BC Ministry of Education’s direction which stated:
‘Students who require more support in school must have full-time, in-class instruction available without any delays.’
Approximately 85% of our respondents stated NO, their school teams had not provided them this information.”
BCEdAccess’ Exclusion Tracker is an ongoing project. Add your experiences to the tracker here.
Registered Disability Savings Plan Awareness Month
October is Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) awareness month! If you are living with a disability and are under 50 years of age, you could be eligible for up to $90,000 in government grants and bonds through a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). If you need free help signing up for the RDSP, take advantage of a new program, including specialized supports for Aboriginal applicants. For more information, visit the RDSP website.
Difficulties Receiving Refunds for ACT Events from MCFD? Please let ACT know!
Last week ACT was contacted by a parent who was refused reimbursement by the Autism Funding Branch of the Ministry of Children and Family Development for the registration fees she had paid to attend an ACT event because she had not requested pre-authorization. We were shocked to hear this as for 15 years, and hundreds of events, families have not been required to have pre-authorization from the Autism Funding Branch for ACT workshops and we were unaware that the policy has been reinterpreted.
We have tried to resolve this with the Autism Funding Branch but their response has been to quote policy: ‘This is supported in policy which can be found on page 19 of “A Parent’s Handbook: Your Guide to Autism Funding Programs”, which states “Services are not eligible for reimbursement; only authorized travel, training and equipment purchases may be reimbursed.”’ This means that instead of continuing with the blanket authorization of all ACT events, which all comply with MCFD’s standards, and feature internationally respected presenters. With this change, each year many hundreds of parents will have to individually request pre-authorization for ACT events.
ACT deeply regrets this inconvenience to families, as we know it will put further stress on them and will waste the time of civil servants. Fortunately, most of ACT’s training this year is free. However, ACT does not want any parent to be out of pocket because we inadvertently misled them. So, if you have been refused reimbursement for an ACT event, ACT will refund your fee. If the Autism Funding Branch pays on your behalf, there is no change. Please just send us the email from the Autism Funding Branch with the refusal and we will process your refunds by the end of this month.
If you have any questions about this reinterpretation of policy, the person to contact is:
Community Liaison / Quality Assurance Officer
Ministry of Children and Family Development