The long-feared announcement by the MCFD Minister Mitzi Dean has been made. Individualized autism funding will become a thing of the past by 2025.
Is this a good thing?
It could be if the BC government provides a massive increase in funding. However, I’m too old and cynical (or perhaps realistic) to believe that the government is going to get it right. Honestly, the writing has been on the wall for a long time. When was the last time your autism funding received an inflation increase?
Funding for our kids will now be divided amongst all disabilities. For example, a child with Down’s syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) may very well see an increase in funding and that is a good thing. A child with autism will more than likely see a decrease in funding. Given that autism funding was intended for evidence-based treatment, the inevitable result will be poor outcomes which are going to cost society in the end.
One thing is abundantly clear and that is that individualized funding is going away. The government will choose the services and level of support on behalf of your child. For some marginalized families who have difficulty obtaining services this is a huge plus. For families who know how to navigate the system and obtain the services their child needs, this is going to be a huge blow.
The new system sounds great in theory, but if the experience in Ontario is anything to go by, there is trouble on the horizon. Ontario moved to a “needs based” approach a few years ago and it was nothing short of disaster. The result was a massive increase in waitlists and less choice for families. How ironic that BC is following the lead of the Ford government.
Some points that greatly concern me are:
- The complete lack of consultation with autism groups
- Less choice for families
- Fewer hours of therapy available
- Who will decide the needs of the child? What will be the qualifications of Case Managers?
- Union wages and accompanying benefits for Interventionists leaving less funds available
- The possibility that home based therapy may be a thing of the past
- Will the “needs based” approach allow for Behaviour Consultants to work with the school districts?
- The possibility of many highly skilled Behaviour Consultants leaving the province if they are not well accommodated in the new system
During the news conference announcing the new system, Minister Mitzi Dean evaded questions relating to funding. This leads me to believe that there will be no real increase although they will tinker around the edges to give the appearance of increases.
For a more in depth look at what is wrong with the plan, The Autism Support Network has put together an excellent briefing.
Previous generations of families fought tooth and nail to get autism funding. You have been warned of the dangers. What are you going to do to fight this? Now is the time to show the government what the new generation of families are capable of.
A special “tip of the hat” goes out to the hard working volunteers of the Autism Support Network. The parent led organization previously known as The ABA Support Network has been re-branded to better reflect their role in British Columbia.
For years now, they have been tirelessly assisting parents new to the world of autism. The countless hours that they have spent on the phone have been completely unpaid and invaluable to families affected by autism.
They continue to expand their reach in B.C. with new parent support groups opening every month as well as focused topic meetings hosted in various communities. Other initiatives include expanding the role of ABA Therapy in schools, recruiting therapists and advocating for families in need.
They have merged with the Autism Education Society and have now achieved charitable status. Please give their website a visit and join their organization (it’s free!)
Well done and congratulations on your re-launch.
Join a parent support group. No really! You thought I was going to write about the AFU, taxes or some such thing didn’t you?
The benefits of joining a local parent support group are numerous and yes, financially beneficial.
Firstly, support groups will understand what you are going through better than any of your extended family. Only someone who has been there will understand the stresses that you are experiencing. As a guy, it pains me greatly to admit that sometimes it helps to talk about it.
OK, what about the money? You can learn many things from other parents in your community. Things such as:
- Who are the good Behaviour Consultants in your town
- Who is going to rip you off
- What does the local Child Development Centre offer (this one varies dramatically across the regions)
- What schools are supportive of ASD kids
- What kind of school aides you can expect
- What BI’s are good and available (yes parents do share this information)
Additionally if parents share the same Behaviour Consultant and live nearby, they can potentially save on travel costs.
I have benefited greatly over the years with the support offered by other parents in my community. My child has excellent aides some of whom we never would have found if not for the connections in our town.
OK then, which support group should you join? There are quite a few out there and I wouldn’t presume to know all of them. You should however vet the groups so their philosophy matches your own. Some are dedicated to Bio-medical treatments only while others are geared to more evidence based treatments such as ABA Therapy.
Two groups to check out are the Autism Society of BC or the ABA Support Network to see if they have a support group in your community. If there are no groups available, this is your opportunity to give back to the community by starting one. Contact either of the before mentioned organizations for assistance in setting one up.
The ABA Support Network is hosting a presentation that is very relevant to those us managing an ABA program using only the $22,000 or $6,000 available from the AFU.
It’s a challenging proposition and we are lucky to have some very respected Behaviour Consultants donate their time and energy to help us understand how to manage our programs under very limited budgets.
The following is from the ABA Support Network website:
Special Presentation – based on feedback from many parents, we are going to talk about the challenges of running quality treatment programs with limited funding from the government. What do families do that don’t have money over and above the $22,000 or $6,000 per year?
Topic: What Can My AFU Funds Do?
When: Tuesday Feb, 11 7-9pm
Where: Surrey Sport and Leisure Center, Arena Side Upstairs Meeting Room
(16555 Fraser Hwy, Surrey, BC V4N 0E9)
At this presentation, you will hear from a panel of BCBAs, and their experience with what you can expect from both over-6 and under-6 funding from the Ministry. Topics to be discussed include:
1. Quality vs. Quantity — sample ABA programs of different funding models.
2. Home vs. school — how to ensure that your child is receiving the best support and supervision with the funds you have available to you.
3. Collaboration — other resources which can be used to help pay for collaboration with other professionals, such as SLP and OT.
4. Goal setting — what to consider when setting goals with your consultant.
5. The ethical perspective of your BCBA — ethical considerations for your BCBA providing consultation on a limited budget.
6. Tips and troubleshooting — ideas to help use the funding creatively and maintaining a great team.
We will also end with a Q & A, and invite parents to share their feedback.
please rsvp to tamara_desilva@Hotmail.com
Two of my favorite subjects (autism and beer) are coming together in a fundraising night for the ABA Support Network. It is being held at the Central City Pub in Surrey on the 8th of May.
ABA Pub Flyer
The Central City Pub has won numerous awards for their craft beers. My personal favorite is the Imperial IPA. For every bottle sold, $5 is being donated to the Canucks Autism Network and Autism Spectrum Disorders Canadian-American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC).
This promises to be a fun night for a good cause.