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MCFD’s Autism Funding Changes and Family Hubs: What you need to know and what you can do

Nov 5th, 2021

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) recently announced a new service system using one-stop family connections hubs and ending existing services such as Autism Funding, the At Home Program, and others by March of 2025. This announcement has caused concerns for families across the province. As always, AutismBC is here to empower, support, and connect the autism community. We continue to search for answers to the pressing questions so many people have. 

*At AutismBC, we support our members by providing current, credible information and advice regarding autism. The purpose of this informative blog is to empower you to make your own judgments and choices. It does not reflect AutismBC’s stance and support toward the subject matter. 

Photo credit: Flickr.com  

 

What We Know 

 

Family Connection Hubs (FCH) 

  • Available to all families, no matter where they live  
  • Available from birth to age 19  
  • A referral or diagnosis will not be needed  
  • Families will access services at a family connections hub in their area  

When Will This Happen? 

October 2021 to March 2022: Information sessions and partner outreach will take place.  

Spring 2022: Medical benefits increase to fully cover the cost of basic essential medical equipment and supplies (accessed via provincial disability services).  

April 2022 to November 2022: The procurement process opens for the first two early-implementation regions.   

November 2022 to January 2023: Central Okanagan and the Northwest hub operators are identified and begin to set up their service hubs.   

February 2023: Hub services open for families in the Central Okanagan and the Northwest. Families in these regions transition to services at the hubs. Existing services continue for families in the rest of the province.  

September 2023 to April 2024: Province-wide procurement begins.   

May 2024: Procurement is complete and successful hub operators are identified.   

May 2024 to August 2024: Operators set up their service hubs.   

September 2024: Hubs open province-wide.   

September 2024: The individualized autism funding program no longer accepts new applications.   

September 2024: to March 2025: Families begin to transition to hubs.   

March 2025: All CYSN services end as family connections hubs become fully operational. All families receive services through a local hub.  

 

Service Provider Procurement Process  

Current community service providers will be able to submit proposals to create a new family connections hub via BC Bid. No date has been announced. 

 

Children and Youth with Support Needs (CYSN) Programs Ending:  

Autism Funding  

Families receiving individualized autism funding will transition to the service hubs where their children will continue to receive supports, including speech therapy, behavioural support, and other services that will help them continue working towards their goals. (Autism Funding ends March 2025)  

At Home Program (AHP) 

School-Aged Extended Therapies Benefit (SAETB)  

Flexible Respite Continues  

Respite funds provide eligible families with a direct payment of $225 per month. Eligibility is determined using a needs-based approach. Flexible use of respite funds applied during the pandemic will become permanent.  

Application for respite is currently done with a CYSN social worker.  

 

What Needs Based Will Look Like? 

Mental-health, behaviour, and family support – all in one place.  

Family Connections Hubs (FCH) will have 3 Different Categories of Services  

  • Goal-focused services 
  • Developmental services  
  • Disability services  

Goal Focused & Developmental Services: 

  • Needs will be assessed by a Support Worker (key worker) using a standard assessment which will identify abilities and support requirements. 
  • If needs are identified you will be assigned a Primary Support Coordinator (PSC) and create an Individual Service Plan (ISP). 

Children with permanent disabilities and significant functional needs will do further assessment using Vineland-3 & Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory Computer Adaptive Test (PEDI-CAT), to determine if they are eligible for Disability Services. 

Disability Services: 

  • If eligible for disability services you will be assigned a social worker who becomes your Primary Support Coordinator. 
  • They will conduct a needs assessment using a Prioritization for Service Tool (PST). 
  • The outcome of that assessment will decide your eligibility for Respite, Parenting Support or Priority Therapy. 
  • Children with significant functional needs may also qualify for Medical Benefits that provide mobility and medical equipment. 

 

What Hubs Will Look Like? 

Family Connections Hubs (FCH) will be run by one lead organization as contracted service providers within defined geographic areas. Hubs will also provide families in surrounding communities with the services offered in larger centers, either through virtual technologies or mobile services.  

Service Providers  

  • Occupational therapists (OT)  
  • Physical therapists (PT)  
  • Speech & Language Pathologist (SLP)  
  • Behavioural consultants  
  • Interventionists  

The first hub location will be in the Northwest and service the following areas: 

  • Smithers  
  • Hazelton  
  • Houston  
  • Prince Rupert  
  • Haida Gwaii 
  • Terrace  
  • Kitimat  
  • Stewart  
  • Dease Lake  
  • Stikine 

Expected to begin in the Northwest November of 2022, there will be a second location in the Central Okanagan as well. 

  

What Should You Do? 

  

DO NOT Cancel Your Assessment Appointment!  

A diagnosis is key to a person and their family’s understanding who they are and how to best support them.  

There are also many services and supports outside of MCFD that a diagnosis will help gain access to.  

Take Care of Yourself & Family  

The announced changes are big and they can feel scary. With so much uncertainty it can be hard to know what you are supposed to do. You are not alone. Some of the things our team and other families have suggested are:  

  • Reach out! To your parent group, your friend, a professional. Talk about how you are feeling.  
  • Focus on what you can control.  
  • Step away from the noise! Get off social media and turn off the TV, give yourself some space to breathe.  

Voice out your Concerns 

Email your Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and CC advocacy@autismbc.ca  

 

Join the Conversation!  

Voice & Choice for BC Families  

Consultation Before Change Petition  

Autism Community Training (ACT) 

8 Days of Action for Access with BCEdAccess 

Rally in Victoria with the Autism Support Network (ASN) 

 

Stay Informed 

Legislative Broadcasting and Webcasting  

“The change to a needs-based approach for developmental supports responds to the repeated recommendations from the representative for children and youth, the all-party Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth, and calls for change raised during consultation with more than 1,500 Indigenous and non-Indigenous families, advocates and service providers.” Minister Dean 

CYSN Summary of Engagement and Research Findings 

MCFD Service Plan 2021 – 2024 

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/managing-your-health/children-and-youth-with-support-needs/cysn_faqs.pdf – FAQ from Nov 15th 2021, MCFD 

Reports 

Children & Youth with Neuro-Diverse Special Needs 2019 

Pathway to Hope – 2019 

Representive for Children & Youth 

Excluded: Increasing Understanding, Support and Inclusion for Children with FASD – April 2021 

Left Out Report – December 2020 

Alone & Afraid – December 2018 

You can find other reports from Representive for Children & Youth here. 

Canadian Mental Health Association BC Reports 

Building an Equitable Foundation: Removing barriers to access for people with mental health and substance-use related disabilities 

Changing The Way We Support the Mental Health of Youth In Care and From Care 

Of Interest 

TogetherBC – Poverty Reduction 2020 

Annual Reports 

Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth – 2021 

 

MCFD Resources 

Children and Youth with Support Needs  

Children and Youth with Support Needs Service Framework  

Members of the Minister’s Advisory Council for Children and Youth with Support Needs 

 

Organizations Public Statements 

AutismBC Collective Response 

Autism Support Network (ASN) 

British Columbia Association for Behaviour Analysis (BC-ABA) 

BCEDAccess 

Down Syndrome BC 

Family Support Institute BC (FSI) 

Speech and Hearing BC 

 

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