Last week, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) hosted seven information sessions and invited parents, caregivers, service professionals, and sector partners to participate and learn more about the changes to the Children and Youth with Support Needs Framework. AutismBC representatives were in attendance for several of these sessions.
AutismBC rejects these information sessions as a form of meaningful consultation with MCFD. The sessions did not provide any new information and created even more distress among community members who attended. The representatives from MCFD missed the opportunity to sincerely engage with the attendees and failed to properly respond to questions raised during the sessions. We urge MCFD to involve the people they serve and represent in their decision making and recognize the importance and relevance of the disability community’s lived-experience.
We have included a survey for you to share your perspective on these information sessions and what MCFD could do differently in engaging with community members. Please take two minutes to complete the survey here:
The following statement is from Kaye Banez, President of AutismBC’s Board of Directors.
“Last week, I attended the information sessions hosted by MCFD. As each session had the capacity of only 350 people, many were not able to participate. Participants who managed to sign up were hoping to get answers, feel heard, and be seen. Instead, the information sessions left many people in the disability community feeling unheard, frustrated, confused, and some even traumatized.
My personal experience as an attendee was one of sorrow and agony. It felt like we were crying out into the wilderness hoping that someone would properly address our questions and concerns. It was distressing to hear the same recycled and overused script that we have heard many times before from Minister Dean, this time in the voices of her staff. It is an insult to the intelligence of parents, professionals, and sector partners, to say the least.
The examples they presented to parents of how their children will receive care through the hub-based model were unsettling. One example was of an autistic child who lived far away from a hub location whose services were limited to Occupational Therapy and virtual sessions for his parents once a month. Furthermore, it was unclear which hub location would be managing his support. If MCFD wanted to convince families that this framework was going to work, this is a bad example to use.
They could not think of a more thought-out case study and expected the service providers to come up with the “creative solutions.” I witnessed service providers asking question upon question on how they can fit into this new framework and MCFD did not give one concrete answer. The service providers were loud and clear in expressing their concerns regarding the threat of losing their business, their autonomy, their specialized practice, and relationships they have built with the families, but again MCFD dodged the tough questions and responded only to those they could easily answer with their script.
At the sector partner session, people were asking for sources of data that MCFD used for modelling to create this framework. Attendees questioned the capacity of the hubs as a “one-size fits all” model, and the validity of MCFD’s proposed assessment tools multiple times. They also shared their concerns about barriers families will face with this new framework. Again, I heard the same platitudes from the hosts.
If MCFD thinks that this is CONSULTATION, then they need to think again. This was a one-sided webinar or a two-hour informercial with little substance that left people feeling dejected and silenced. MCFD does not have to take my word for it. Listen to the voices of the people who attended these sessions last week.”
Kaye Banez President of the Board of Directors AutismBC, mother of an autistic child
Kaye at the BC Parliament, Victoria
Quotes from the community, shared with permission:
“The questions addressed in the Wednesday session did not actually get answered with any detail, and the entire process was a form of tokenism that wasted the time of hundreds of parents of disabled kids. It felt extremely patronizing, and I felt gaslit by the whole censored process.” – Helen EG
“I was shocked that they have zero plans for how any of this is going to go down.” – Aubrey D.
“The new framework is thus, not designed to meet the needs of all children, from waitlist, to meeting eligibility criteria, to waitlists, to types of supports offered not fitting the needs of all families. Thus, many children with disabilities will be left out and further marginalized.”– AnneMarie R.
“No new info, and raised more questions than answers.” – Hilary M.
“They didn’t tell folks in advance if they got into the session. If they didn’t see that this was insulting and a huge barrier if we could just drop everything for a last-minute meeting, then they definitely don’t understand how hubs promise to be full of barriers and hoops to jump through. The least they could do is honour and respect our time.” – Chantelle M.
“The session I attended did nothing but solidify for me that we will not be served by this new model, that we are on our own navigating a discriminatory society and that this government does not understand disability rights.” – Jenn S.
“They said the answers to questions they didn’t get to would be on the website, but there’s nothing there regarding CYMH or supports for kids with mental illness. It’s still unclear if this will even be part of the hub or stay a standalone part of MCFD so my time was wasted.” – Taryn S.
“Having the ministry offer these sessions that turned out to be a waste of time was egregious behaviour on their part.” – Sara RD
“My personal experience as a neurodivergent individual was that there were no accommodations offered. While answering questions, there were no slides (there could have been notes type to even just copy paste what they were answering) and there was no closed captioning offered. This made following their responses extremely difficult. Also, there was not an ASL interpreters in ours that others had mentioned being present in their meetings.” – Kelly C.
“They kept saying that the services will be trauma informed as they were bulldozing over us and censoring all parent and/or autistic voice. That session literally caused trauma to parents… As they were telling us that their hubs would not cause trauma to our kids.” – Heather H.
“It seems they believe that moving resources around without any means of increasing capacity will fill holes.” – Jacquelyn W.
“If the government is not able to answer basic questions, and they are afraid to listen to families voice of concern then this government is not in a position to roll out these policies and changes without a plan which now we clearly see they don’t have. I am infuriated and this is concerning.” – Sabrina S.
“It was the closest thing to an insult to these families that I have seen yet… and beating the Ministers daily regurgitation of weak talking points is tough.” – Mike S.
“No person starts a business without business plans or researching about the needs of their clientele, both of which is non-existent for this program that affects tens of thousands of lives…I have no idea what the purpose of the session was other than to cause more frustration, confusion and anger…” – Hedy T.
“A word that came up during the Service Provider sessions was ‘value’ – as in determining the ‘value’ of Service Providers. Even in the current system, there is an implied hierarchy of Service Providers. As someone who has focused on the promotion of social-emotional skills and independence in my caregiving work, I hope the collective vision of choice for families will stop devaluing some Service Providers more than others. Having ACCESS to OPTIONS for support is what’s valuable, rather than assuming the same kind of services or programs will be the right fit for every child or family.” – Cayley B.
“I’ve got concerns as to the effectiveness of the hubs once up and running and am very skeptical that it will actually benefit families (even those that currently don’t have funding).” – Jon P. OT (Occupational Therapist) and AutismBC director
So, what can we do?
MCFD’s information sessions have left community members feeling more distressed than informed. The continual dismissal of community members’ desire for meaningful consultation was apparent in these sessions.We have put together a short survey for you to share your thoughts and feelings, and suggestions on what MCFD could do differently. We will organize and send your responses to MCFD to call for change. Together, our voices are stronger. Let us join forces and advocate for real actions. Please take 2 minutes to fill out this survey: