Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth, Representative for Children and Youth
As British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth, it is my job to monitor the child-and youth serving systems in this province and make comments and recommendations on how these systems can be improved.
My staff and I take a global view, well-informed by data and evidence as well as by what we hear from Indigenous communities, community service agencies, and what children, youth, young adults and their families tell our Office about their experiences with the system.
Over the last 13 months, we have been carefully watching the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s (MCFD’s) effort to re-design the way it provides services to children and youth with special (support) needs and their families. This proposed change has been the subject of much discourse in the B.C. Legislature, in the media and on social media – but that discourse has rarely represented the entire picture. It has too often been boiled down to solely an autism funding issue which, of course, is vital but nonetheless only one part of a much larger story.
My Office, with some significant reservations related to funding and capacity, supported in principle the intentions of the proposed CYSN framework announced by MCFD in October 2021. That framework promised to expand supports and services to a much wider range of children and youth with special needs, including those who now receive nothing or next to nothing such as children and youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Down’s syndrome and a wide range of other neuro-cognitive-developmental needs…