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(Canada) BC launches support centers for ASD/ADHD; parents worried

May 16, 2022, Global News: B.C. to launch ‘circle of care’ for neurodiverse kids but parents have many questions https://globalnews.ca/news/8837816/bc-new-support-circle-neurodiverse-kids/

British Columbia is set to launch one-stop support centres for children with issues like ADHD, autism and Down syndrome, but parents say promises of a no-wait system that won’t require assessments or a diagnosis seem unrealistic due to a shortage of health-care professionals.

The plan is to open 40 so-called family connections centres, or hubs, across the province.

Four are slated to provide services under a pilot program from next year — three in northwestern B.C., and another in the central Okanagan.

The province has given community agencies until July to tender for initial implementation of the program, and contracts are expected to be awarded in the fall. More proposals will be sought for the remaining centres that are to begin operating by 2024 to support neurodiverse kids and youth up to age 19.

Families of autistic children will then no longer get the current funding of up to $22,000 a year until age six, and $6,000 annually to age 18. Instead, they will be provided services through the new system.

Julia Boyle, executive director of Autism BC, said the province has not provided information about staffing and protocols for the “complex transition” to a new system that could have parents of thousands of neurodiverse kids “knocking on the doors of these hubs.”

There is not enough time for consultations with advocacy groups before the pilot program starts, and to fully shift from individualized funding for autistic kids to the new hubs is another major change in two years, Boyle said….

Government “spin” over autism funding has created divisions about inequity because many parents of children with other needs have been paying out of pocket, Boyle said. That has led some to accuse the autism community of being “selfish,” she said.

“It’s on the government to come up with solutions,” Boyle said, suggesting funding could have been provided more equitably to all families in need, instead of being taken away from those who had fought to get it….

Dean said the goal of the new system is to give families access to a team of service providers from speech and occupational therapists to behavioural interventionists and replace a patchwork of programs that are “not working for far too many families.”…

“The problem at the moment is that services are locked behind a diagnosis,” she said. “And that limits access to services at the time that a parent or family might recognize that there might be a need or an issue. Then that causes that bottleneck as well. Then, even depending on what diagnosis you get, you still might not get services, or you become a case manager for your own child.”…

Dean said parents are “exhausted” trying to find and co-ordinate support on their own and will no longer need to make that effort under the new system, which aims to provide disability and support services to about 28 per cent more children earlier in their development….

Candice Murray, a registered psychologist and clinical instructor at the University of British Columbia, questioned how a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is her specialty, would get help at a hub without having had an assessment, which can be time consuming and complicated….