In recent months, ACT has been supporting a refugee family to explain their case and the Autism Funding Program to the Civil Resolution Tribunal (formerly the Small Claims Court). In the absence of a contract, and with limited English, the father needed help to counter allegations by a behavior interventionist (BI) that she was owed $60 an hour for each hour worked with their twins – $30 from each child’s Autism Funding account. The Autism Funding Program is overseen by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).
The parent insisted that he had only agreed to a total of $30 an hour. Their Behavior Consultant agreed that a charge of $60 an hour was never raised by the BI before she submitted her invoice.
Through a lengthy process, which finally ended last week, the BI argued that the parent, by virtue of signing MCFD’s ‘Request to Pay’ form for each child, owed her money from both children’s accounts for the same hour. Trisha Apland, Tribunal Member disagreed. Importantly, Ms. Apland also stated that the family was not required to pay from their own funds:
“I find no evidence that the respondent agreed to pay from “his own pocket” or outside the funds allocated by MCFD. Therefore, I decline to order the respondent to pay the applicant’s fees from “his own pocket”.”
Providers should note that this decision also clarifies that the Tribunal will not order parents to pay from their own resources, if a Service Provider has billed more than the amount agreed in the ‘Request to Pay’ form, in the absence of an additional agreement. [Prior to 2017, ACT managed the complaints process for the Registry of Autism Service Providers and saw a number of cases where parents were subjected to considerable pressure by a small minority of service providers.]
The Importance of Written Contracts
This case brings home the need for parents and providers to agree contracts that outline the number of hours the provider may bill during a specific period and the amount they may charge per hour. Any additional work the parent requests should be agreed in advance, in writing. Providers should not expect to be paid for hours that they have not been contracted to work.
This was an unusual case because there was more than one child, but at least 10% of B.C. families have more than one child with ASD. A written contract protects both the provider and the family from misunderstandings. In situations where a service provider is dishonest [an infrequent occurrence], this decision provides families with an assurance that the Civil Resolution Tribunal can provide a ruling that takes into consideration the complexity of the Autism Funding Program.
A Remarkable Father
ACT acknowledges the commitment of the father in this case. He was so determined to protect his children’s autism funding that he continued to advocate, despite serious illness, lack of fluency in English, and his initial, unfounded fear, that if he lost, he and his family would be deported because of their refugee status. His remarkable courage has resulted in a decision that can now be relied upon by other families.
Read the full decision here
For more information on contracting with professionals on the RASP, visit Chapter 5 from ACT’s Autism Manual for BC. This chapter contains detailed information on:
- Autism Funding & the Responsibilities of the Parent
- The Importance of a Contract
- Paying your Service Provider Using Autism Funding
- Timesheets and Invoices
- Finding the Right Professional
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