Improved system coming for children and youth with support needs (flickr.com)

Media Contacts

Ministry of Children and Family Development

Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 356-1639

Backgrounders

Transforming services

The Province is transforming the way services are delivered to children and youth with support needs and their families to create a system that, when fully implemented in 2025, will better serve a more children and youth to reach their goals, no matter where they live in B.C.

Respite Care

Respite care is planned or emergency temporary care provided to the parents or caregivers of a child or youth with support needs. In April 2020, the ministry established the Emergency Relief Support Fund for children and youth with support needs and their families. The fund provided eligible families with a direct payment of $225 per month for three months to help them purchase supports to alleviate stress. Using a needs-based approach, the emergency funding, which was available until September 2020, supported 50% more of the eligible families that were awaiting services. Based on feedback from families, the ministry is making the flexible use of respite permanent.

Service changes for children, youth and families

Children, youth, and their families will be able to quickly access information, expert intervention, and therapies from birth to age 19, based on their needs and without a referral or diagnosis. For the first time, families will also have access to mental-health, behaviour and family supports – all in one place.

While diagnosis will remain an important tool that can help families and service providers to tailor supports for children and youth, supports will be designed to help children and youth with their needs even without a diagnosis, meaning children can get the help they need sooner. This will include three core streams – developmental and goal-focused services, disability services and provincial services – that will help support the developmental and functional goals of children, youth and their families.

One-stop family connections hubs

Families who have children and youth with neurodiversity, disabilities or other support needs – or who believe their child may need extra support – will be able to go to a family connections hub to access services. Their child's or youth’s needs will be assessed by a qualified practitioner using a standard assessment, which will identify the child's or youth’s abilities and support requirements. This process can be more straightforward than diagnostic assessments, providing support to families earlier and helping to reduce the wait times for diagnoses.

It has been a challenge for children, youth and families – especially those living in rural or Indigenous communities – to access stable, consistent services. All hubs will offer consistent services and supports, making the system easier for families to understand and navigate. Hubs will be run by one lead organization as contracted service providers within defined geographic areas. Each provider – which will be chosen via a procurement process – will be accountable to the Province to uphold the standards of delivery and ensure the required developmental and goal-focused services are provided within their area of responsibility. These hubs will also provide families in surrounding communities with the services offered in larger centres, either through virtual technologies or mobile services.

Families in the two early implementation regions, who are currently receiving individualized autism funding or school-age extended therapies, will be able to choose whether to keep the funding, services and supports they receive today, or instead opt into the new hub services once they open. Starting in September 2024, as the new hubs open their doors throughout the province, the ministry and the hub operators will work with families receiving individualized autism funding to help transition them, over a six-month period, 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.

Timeline:

  • October 2021 to March 2022: Information sessions and partner outreach.
  • April 2022 to November 2022: Procurement process is open for the first two early implementation regions.
  • November 2022 to January 2023: Procurement is complete in the Central Okanagan and the Northwest. Successful hub operators are identified and begin to set up their service hubs.
  • February 2023: Hub services are 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. Families in these regions can continue receiving the existing autism or SAET services they currently have or can opt to transition to the new hub services.
  • September 2023 to April 2024: Provincewide procurement is open.
  • 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 provincewide.
  • 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: Individualized funding for autism concludes. All families now receive services through the one-stop hubs.