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Special-needs child care gets $30-million boost to reduce wait lists and more staff training

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Peng, Jenny
Publication Date: 
25 Oct 2018


VANCOUVER—The B.C. government is hoping new funding for 1,000 children with special needs will significantly reduce wait lists and provide more one-on-one help in care.

On Friday, the provincial and federal governments said $30 million will be allocated over three years to organizations like the Surrey-based Centre for Child Development.

The centre serves more than 3,100 children and employs occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, physiotherapists, early childhood educators, supported child development specialists and recreation specialists.

One of the centre’s current staff is occupational therapist Edith MacHattie, who has two of her own children enrolled in the centre’s daycare.

“I see every day how important it is to give kids the supports that they require to participate fully. That means sometimes special equipment, adaptive programs or one-on-one support … to make sure they can fit into the program,” she told StarMetro.

MacHattie said she’s seen how children can “blossom” by learning new skills and making friends when they’re given the support they need.

According to the B.C. government, the funding for “supported child development” could mean more one-on-one help for children who may need assistance during meals or to participate in activities. Other possibilities include information and training for child-care staff to help make programming more “inclusive,” such as creating a visual schedule to help a child understand their daily routine. It could also mean working with families and linking to other relevant local resources and support groups.

When Katrina Chen, minister of state for child care, was asked how the amount for each centre is determined, she said the government uses a “complicated formula.”

“It could be based on population needs, diversity, there could be Indigenous population. So there’s many factors that we’re looking into. It’s kind of a complicated formula, but we do work closely with child development centres and local providers to make sure we’re addressing local needs,” Chen told StarMetro.

The funding will extend to Indigenous child-development programs both on and off reserve while kids learn about their heritage and culture.

To date, the B.C. government said 83 organizations throughout the province have received part of the $30 million.

Last month, the province launched a revamp of the child-care subsidy with the Affordable Child Care Benefit. The benefit is the second part of a comprehensive overhaul of the province’s child-care system. The income-based benefit provides support to families who earn up to $111,000 per year and comes in addition to the child-care fee reduction program that the province launched in April, which is provided regardless of income.