CHANGES TO AUTISM PROGRAMS INCREASE FUNDING AND EQUITY
VICTORIA – The Minister of Children and Family Development Mary Polak announced changes today to services for children and youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families that are directed at equalizing access and maintaining and improving service levels.
“These changes are a reflection of government’s priority to provide – and protect – critical supports for vulnerable children and their families, including children and youth with special needs,” said Polak.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development’s budget for autism intervention and funding programs is more than 10 times the 2001 budget of $4.1 million, totalling more than $46 million in 2009-10, including a $1.6-million increase this year. As a result of these budget increases, more than 6,000 children and youth diagnosed with ASD and their families are served now, compared to only a few hundred prior to 2000.
Despite significant investments, we are still faced with increased demand that necessitates revision to current programs and services to ensure they are delivered in the most effective way possible.
Service changes include:
- Effective April 1, 2010, funding will be increased for children diagnosed with autism who are under six years of age – from $20,000 to $22,000 per year.
- Autism funding for children and youth aged 6-18 remains the same at $6,000 per year, which is in addition to the $16,000 special education funding that school districts receive for each child.
- Effective October, 2009, the ministry will begin moving families from Direct Funding to Invoice Payment in the Autism Funding Programs in order to improve accountability and increase efficiency.
– Direct Funding: Families manage their child’s funds and pay service providers.
– Invoice Payment: Families choose the service but the ministry manages the child’s funds and pays service providers when it receives an invoice.
Effective January 31, 2010, the ministry will discontinue funding the province’s Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI) programs that currently serve 70 children in seven communities at a cost of almost $5 million annually.
Approximately $1 million will be redirected toward the creation of a new provincial outreach program to improve access to professional services, particularly in rural communities. Savings will also be re-directed to fund the increase in ‘Autism Funding: Under 6’ to more than 800 families.
“In these challenging economic times, we have given priority to our most needy children and continue to provide immediate individual funding as soon as a child is diagnosed with ASD,” said Polak.
For more information, families receiving autism funding may call the Autism Funding Unit at MCFD 250 387-3530 in Victoria or toll-free at 1 877 777-3530.
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development
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