Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development, has issued the following statement in response to the Dec. 3, 2020, report from the representative for children and youth:
“I would like to thank the representative for children and youth for this report, and I am especially grateful to the families who shared their personal experiences. Children and youth with special needs (CYSN) and their caregivers face daily challenges that most of us have never even thought about. The extra adversity they have had to deal with during the last nine months speaks to their resilience and inspiring commitment. We want to rebuild trust with families.
“A year ago, we lived in a different world. Our worries, fears and day-to-day challenges have been magnified, and we know this is especially true for families of children and youth with special needs. They have been waiting – since long before the pandemic – for better supports and services.
“Early on in the pandemic, many of the face-to-face services families depend on were reduced, so we put in flexibility measures and emergency supports to give as much added help as we could. Yet, despite these measures, I know families are still struggling.
“I share many of the representative’s concerns and agree we need to apply what we have learned from the pandemic experience. This ministry has been working to fundamentally change the system of supports for children and youth with special needs and their families.
“Government’s goal and my goal as minister is to support all people, especially those who are most vulnerable. I have been tasked by the Premier to support children, youth and families through the COVID-19 response and recovery, and with supporting families of children and youth with special needs and ensuring the new CYSN framework is designed to support a broad range of families. As we work to finalize this framework, we must listen to the voices and experience of the families we are trying to help.
“I want to hear directly from those who are affected. That’s why I have asked ministry staff to set up an advisory council to help ensure those voices are heard. I have also asked staff to expedite the implementation of the CYSN service framework and work to improve the system for struggling families throughout the province.
“Finally, I’d like to take a moment to recognize and thank all of the staff from the ministry and community partners who have worked tirelessly to adapt their services and adjust to a new reality. I deeply respect the work they do, and I trust in their commitment to B.C. families. That is why I encourage families who are struggling to reach out to your CYSN worker or call your local ministry office so we can work with you, explore all options and help connect you with the help you need.”