In the last six days, ACT has received over 500 responses from parents to the announcement by BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development [MCFD] that Autism Funding will be phased out in 2025.
95% of the responses are critical. To allow parents to speak for themselves, we provide over 150 representative excerpts on a special page of ACT’s website. Most responses express common themes of frustration, fear, anxiety and anger that such a dramatic change is being contemplated without considering the implications for the thousands of families who have used autism funding to build effective, individualized supports for their complex children. We will be sharing these with all of BC’s MLA’s later this week.
Lack of Meaningful Consultation
Many parents query why families of children of autism were not consulted before deciding on such a radical departure. Minister Mitzi Dean’s response has been that they were consulted. It is true that MCFD has held broad consultations starting in 2019 about the many deficits in the services that are meant to serve children with neuro-developmental and physical disabilities. However, MCFD’s solution: ending the Autism Funding Programs and centralizing all services in “hubs” was never proposed at a community level before this announcement. Hence the outrage of families.
ACT’s Executive Director, Deborah Pugh participated in the Minister’s Advisory Council for the period after its establishment in the summer of 2021 but stepped down in July because of the superficial nature of what was being presented by MCFD. In ACT’s view, there was a lack of meaningful engagement with Council members, who were a group of well-informed community representatives with links across disabilities.
In the days and weeks to come, ACT will continue to work with the Representative for Children and Youth, autism organizations, and other disability organizations to listen to their perspectives.
Our focus will be on contributing to a united front of families who believe that all children in BC with neurodevelopmental concerns and/or physical disabilities have a right to early diagnosis and evidence-based resources, including access to individualized funding when it best meets the needs of their child and family.
There are a number of initiatives being organized currently. To see the latest, check ACT’s Facebook page.
Parent petition reaches 7,250 in five days
A petition to Premier John Horgan, MCFD Minister Mitzi Dean and others has reached 7,250 signatures and is continuing to grow, fueled by parent outrage at the lack of community consultation prior to the framework announcement last week. See the petition here