RICHMOND, November 25, 2022 – Only a week after Premier David Eby was sworn in as BC’s new leader, he reversed the October 2021 decision to phase out individualized autism funding in 2025. A meeting was held yesterday evening with Premier Eby, Minister Mitzi Dean, Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth, AutismBC, and the First Nations Leadership Council to discuss a new direction and a more collaborative way forward. The BC government has committed to co-developing a new system of support for children with disabilities over a 2-year engagement process. Today, they announced these changes to families across the province.
View the announcement
Premier Eby and Minister Dean have committed to:
- The maintenance of individualized funding for those with an autism diagnosis even after 2025, including those who are diagnosed in the future.
- An engagement process co-designed by First Nations leadership, the Representative for Children and Youth, and leaders from the disability community, in partnership with government.
- A pause on the roll-out of BC’s plan to establish a network of family connection centres, with the exception of the four pilots already launched. The four pilots will be evaluated during the co-development process of a new system.
- New investments in the interim as the new system is being developed to support children with disabilities and support needs that are currently underserved.
While we await more details on these changing plans, we are celebrating this win for the families that wish to keep their individualized autism funding and current service providers. We know that many families will be incredibly relieved that they will continue to have this choice.
“It has been a very tumultuous year for thousands of families across the province,” said Kaye Banez, AutismBC Board President. “There were many times when our advocacy seemed like an impossible mountain to climb, but as a community we stayed the course, adapted, and kept on navigating through the very challenging terrain.”
“With deep appreciation and gratitude, we thank the people who have listened to, supported, and championed this advocacy work and amplified the voices of our families,” said Julia Boyle, Executive Director. “We are fueled and empowered by the determination of parents and caregivers who refused to give up.”
There are still many autistic children and children with different disabilities that are currently underserved by the Children and Youth with Support Needs Framework. There is much more work to do to create more equity and access to support for children and youth that aren’t getting the services they need. AutismBC commits to supporting this ongoing work in collaborative spaces with families, organizations, and people with lived experience from all disability groups, Indigenous families and leaders, service providers, and government and non-government experts and leaders.
This new direction echoes some of the key recommendations outlined in AutismBC’s report, which found that only 4% of parents and caregivers of children on the autism spectrum feel the new Family Connections Centres will best meet their children’s needs.
Parent and Caregiver Perspectives on the Family Connections Centres: AutismBC Survey Results
Julia Boyle, Executive Director, and Kaye Banez, Board President, were in Victoria this week at the Legislative Assembly of BC to meet with Premier Eby, Minister Dean, and representatives from the Liberal and Green parties. Julia and Kaye presented the newly launched Parent and Caregiver Perspectives on the Family Connections Centres Report, which features the responses of 1,563 parents.
“We thank Premier David Eby for receiving our report and his commitment to adequately supporting the families of children with disabilities and support needs,” said Kaye Banez, AutismBC Board President.
“We look forward to building a trusting partnership with Premier Eby as we continue to work with the government and nurture collaborative relationships with disability and Indigenous organizations to ensure that all disabled children get the support they need to thrive,” said Julia Boyle, AutismBC Executive Director
Julia Boyle, Executive Director, AutismBC. [email protected] work: 604-434-0880 ext. 103
Kaye Banez, Board President, AutismBC. [email protected]