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Number of families waiting for respite funding cut in half

Number of families waiting for respite funding cut in half

July 18, 2019 at 10:28 am  BC, News, Politics

More than 1,300 additional families with children who have special needs are benefiting from respite services by qualified caregivers, thanks to this year’s program expansion.

The expansion also provides an increase to the base funding amount each family can receive.

“We’ve heard how incredibly important respite care is for families,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Parents can get so caught up caring for a loved one that they forget to take time for themselves. They often don’t have the luxury of asking a friend, neighbour or relative to step in for them. Respite offers them a chance to recharge and the peace of mind that comes from having a skilled professional they can count on with the training to meet their child’s unique care needs.”

As of March 31, 2018, approximately 3,900 families were receiving respite services. This program expansion takes more than 1,300 additional families off the waitlist.

The $6.3-million boost to the Province’s respite program was announced in Budget 2019, and changes began to come into effect April 1, 2019. Five million dollars is being used to provide respite services for families who had previously been on the waiting list. The remaining $1.3 million is increasing the base annual funding amount each family can receive from $2,800 to $3,080, marking the first increase in respite funding since 1989.

Respite funding allows eligible families to purchase services from a qualified person who will care for the child while the parents attend to other family priorities. Services are provided in the child’s home, the respite caregiver’s home or within the community. Eligibility is not based on a specific diagnosis. Children may be eligible for the program if they are assessed as dependent in at least three of four areas of daily living (washing, bathroom assistance, eating and dressing), or have a palliative condition.

Once families become eligible for respite funding, they are also able to access a range of other programs, including access to a child and youth care worker, behaviour supports, parenting skills training, counselling, housekeeping and life-skills programs for children.

Government is developing a new plan to better support children and youth with special needs and their families. It will guide how the ministry invests in and delivers services for children and youth with special needs, and will roll out in spring 2020.


Jason Gordon, provincial advocate, BC Association of Child Development and Intervention —

“Respite is a necessity. It allows parents of children with special needs the opportunity to take care of the day-to-day things most of us take for granted, spend time with other family members or simply take the time to rest. Respite allows parents to ultimately give more, and as a result, it brings families closer together and makes them stronger.”

Dianne Cameron, senior director, Sunny Hill Health Centre —

“Children often bring outstanding joy to parents and families. Despite this, all parents need time away from their children to recharge. For parents and caregivers of children with developmental and/or medical challenges who devote considerable time caring for their child, time away is even more important. Access to regular respite care is essential for continued health, well-being and resilience so families can continue to provide care for their child.”

Learn More:

For more information on services available for children and youth with special needs and their families, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/healthy-women-children/child-behaviour-development/special-needs

For a traditional Chinese translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/NR_Respite_Budget_Increase_July_2019_Traditional%20Chinese.pdf

For a Punjabi translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/NR_Respite_Budget_Increase_July_2019_Punjabi.pdf

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