Transition to community 'hub' model for supporting children with special needs

autisme

Families with children in need of special developmental support will soon have a new way of accessing that support in B.C.

The provincial government announced Wednesday that it plans to create "family connections hubs" for neurodiverse children and young people, as well as those with disabilities.

Such facilities will be run by existing local service agencies, and will connect families with resources without the need for a formal diagnosis.

This approach differs significantly from the current system, according to Mitzi Dean, B.C.'s Minister of Children and Family Development, who announced the planned changes during a news conference Wednesday.

"In today's system, if you're a parent of a child and you start noticing they're not meeting their milestones, you're worried about them, you think maybe their speech isn't doing so well, it's really difficult to know where to turn to," Dean said.

"If you think that they have symptoms of, say, for example, autism, then you need to go and get a diagnosis before you're able to access funding. That's the only program. And that diagnosis can take up to two years."

Under the new approach, the minister said, the same family would be able to bring a child into a hub and begin receiving assistance with that child's specific needs and goals.

The first two hubs are scheduled to open in the province's northwest and in the Central Okanagan region in 2023. Dean said those two locations were chosen because they offer an opportunity to see how the new model works in both a rural and an urban setting.

By 2025, there will be hubs available throughout the province, and direct funding to families whose children have been diagnosed with autism will end.

- with files CTV -