Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development, has issued the following statement about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention and Support Month:
“Living with a disability can be hard. It’s even more difficult when your disability is deeply stigmatized. Forty thousand people in B.C., many of them children and youth, live with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), a lifelong disability that is often hidden and kept invisible because of stigma and shame.
“September is FASD Prevention and Support Month: a time to recognize and increase our knowledge of a condition that remains misunderstood by many, including many working in the systems people turn to for help.
“The shame that surrounds FASD can make it harder for parents to seek help and services for their children. And when families do seek help, services that their children need are often gated behind diagnosis – and some services that would benefit them are not available to children and youth with FASD at all.
“Our government is committed to changing this. I’ve been tasked by the premier to improve services for children and youth with disabilities and other support needs, including children and youth with FASD. Our new approach will provide services based on the needs and goals of children, youth and their families, whether or not they have a specific diagnosis.
“Advice from my Minister’s Advisory Council and from advocates like the Canada FASD Research Network is helping to shape this new approach. The voices and experiences of families of children and youth with disabilities and other support needs have informed me every step of the way, and they will continue to be critical as we continue to shape the future of services. We know that for many families these changes can’t come soon enough, which is why we are working hard to make these changes a reality, while delivering services that children, youth and their families rely on today.
“All children and youth need supports to achieve their full potential. Children and youth with FASD are no different. When we make space for children and youth with FASD, we are creating supports that are stronger and more supportive of learning, development and education for every child.
“Children and youth with FASD also need to see adults with FASD thriving in our communities. They need to know that they can grow up and succeed in school and work and build healthy families.
“We all have a responsibility to make that a reality – to make our workplaces and communities more welcoming and accessible for everyone and to challenge the barriers and stigma that hold people back from reaching their full potential.
“As minister of children and family development, I am committed to making our services and supports work better for children and youth so they can grow up strong and thrive. Alongside community partners, advocates, guardians and families, we are building a brighter, more inclusive future for children and youth with FASD.”