The British Columbia Disability Collective (BCDC) has written a media release to express their concerns regarding some serious shortcomings in the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD)’s proposed tools for determining which children with disabilities will qualify for support in the new Family Connections Centres (previously called Family Connections Hubs).
In late 2021, BC’s MCFD announced changes to how it provides funding and services to neurodiverse children and children with disabilities. The new system will eliminate individualized funding and pivot services to Family Connections Centres. Since the announcement, parents, advocates, and service providers have raised questions and concerns about the proposed system, including the online needs-assessment tools MCFD will use to determine which children with disabilities should receive support.
In a recent analysis of previous research, Dr. Pat Mirenda from the University of British Columbia identifies shortcomings in these assessment tools. For example, one of the assessment tools could disqualify up to 25% of children and youth from being eligible for services. These findings point to what families and advocates fear. Will my child be denied access to services because their support needs are less evident? How high do my child’s support needs have to be in order to receive services?
“The way MCFD assesses our kids’ needs is crucial to ensuring they receive appropriate, quality support,” says AutismBC Executive Director, Julia Boyle. Minister Dean states that the new Family Connections Centres will be a “provincial safety net to better support families” and all families of children and youth who are neurodiverse and those with disabilities can “visit the hubs and get supports” (Dean, 2021). But if 25% of kids are excluded, can it still be considered a safety net?
BCDC is a group of BC-based organizations, as well as clinicians, researchers, and businesses with hundreds of years of combined experience supporting tens of thousands of children and youth with disabilities and complex needs. As a result of the findings of Dr. Mirenda’s analysis, BCDC has issued a press release summarizing their concerns and the research findings. To view the full press release, click here.
Trigger warning: The language used in the linked report comes from a medical model of disability. At AutismBC, we follow a social model of disability that focuses on the strengths, identities, and inherent worth of all individuals.