Provincial Government Press Release on Autism Funding

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.

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Contact: Christine Ash

Media Relations Manager

Ministry of Children and Family Development

250 356-1639

250 812-3616

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.

For the full news release, please click here.

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One Response to Provincial Government Press Release on Autism Funding

  1. Bob He says:

    You know we are living in dark days indeed when the government begins dismantling the therapy funding for helpless children. I suppose it is a smart move by the government as these children can’t voice their concern over the negative impact this will have on their future and huge increase in cost it will later have to society.
    Is this the type of government we voted for?
    Approximately one in a 150 boys is diagnosed with Autism and this continues to rise at an increasing rate.
    In a recent 50 million dollar Lotto 6/49 jackpot, the odds were one in 13,983,816. Hundreds of thousands of parents bet on this jackpot. Your odds are considerably better with an Autism diagnosis.
    Save your lottery money, you will need it if your child is diagnosed.
    The government of British Columbia offers these families $20,000/year to cover therapy up to the age of six. Therapy costs approximately $80,000/year. This therapy is scientifically proven to be effective and is well documented. This means families who have a child who has been diagnosed with Autism have to find $60,000 from somewhere. This is often debt.
    Most of these parents divorce. Selling the family house to fund therapy is common. The sale of most items of value to generate funds for therapy is a given. A life of guilt and depression is to be expected. Alienation from friends and family will occur.
    Their life as they knew it is now over.
    If they are lucky their child won’t bolt and get lost for days. If they’re lucky their child will learn to refrain from self damaging behavior. If they’re lucky, their child will learn not to throw up after eating. If they’re lucky, their child will learn to speak a few words. If they’re lucky their child will not be teased, ridiculed, beaten up and harassed on a daily basis at school. If they’re lucky their child will graduate from high school.
    Most won’t be that lucky.
    Last week, without any consultation or warning, the Mary Polak (Minister of Family and Children Development) pulled the rug out from under these parents who are already enduring so much by eliminating their ability to control these funds. The government, who have consistently failed to understand the needs of these families has taken it upon itself to eliminate the option to do Direct Funding (direct from the parents to the service providers) and has instead dictated that these parents have to tow the line of mandated Invoice Funding where the government pays the service providers. This will increase overhead costs, delay the payments, reduce the quality of care and will make paying these service providers extremely difficult therefore reducing the amount of usable funds and discouraging assistance.
    The frustration in the Autism community lies in the fact that these parents, who are on the brink of financial collapse, already spent precious funds to fight the government in the courts a few years ago to protect their children and won the Auton lawsuit (Auton vs BC Gov). The government at that time did finally put Direct Individualized Funding into place. This allowed parents to fund their child’s ABA programs and since that time parents have built a strong, quality base of ABA service providers that is making a real difference to these children. The ABA program takes a child who would otherwise be lifelong financial burden on the society and in many cases makes him/her self sufficient.
    In these financial times are we prepared to sacrifice the children? Do we want to go down this low moral road? Are we prepared to make the small amount of funds these parents receive that much less and that much more difficult to put into action? Why is the government spending more tax money just to make it difficult for these parents?
    For all that is good a decent, please spare the children.

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