(Needpix.com)

(Needpix.com)

Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Children with special needs and their families are doing worse during the second wave of the pandemic than they did in the early months, according to Jennifer Charlesworth, the Representative for Children and Youth in B.C.

In a report released Thursday (Dec. 3), Charlesworth’s office said the “COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of our support systems for children and youth, exacerbating long-standing problems and layering on new ones.”

Charlesworth said measures need to be taken immediately, but acknowledged there was “no instant fix.” She said it was impossible to address only COVID-19 related issued, but that the approach would have to fix longterm issues with the system.

The report found that while there was some financial pandemic support, it “got off to a slow start.” Charlesworth’s office said that the $225 per month emergency benefit for children and youth with special need reached only half of the 2,672 families that were eligible.

“The benefit was prioritized for families deemed eligible for specific children and youth with special need family support services but not yet receiving them, but in some cases, families already receiving a service also received the benefit. However, the program was extended in July, and 2,581 families received it in that second period,” the report stated.

The report recommended a number of measures for immediate support, which included a more flexible, less rigid approach to aid. The report recommended extending all pandemic-related support until fall 2021 and “roll out a plain-language communication strategy” for the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Further recommendations included designating family caretakers as essential workers to make sure they can access all services even during lockdowns and heightened restrictions as well as funding and developing programs to replace those that children lost from school and community based groups.

Charlesworth said “the level of desperation and the sense of urgency” stood out the feedback her office received from families of children and youth, with the risk that some families with no respite during the pandemic may need to place their children in foster care.

“Families are hanging out by a thread. They are absolutely spent,” she said.

More to come.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: Snowballs fights and dead spiders

Even if it doesn’t end up how we hope, it’s the trying that matters most.

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Bay tennis player Grace Haugen takes part in an exhibition at the South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club in 2019, which also included Canadian legends Frank Dancevic and Daniel Nestor. Haugen has committed to further her career at the University of Montana starting next fall. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Bay tennis player prepares for next step in her journey

Grace Haugen commits to University of Montana

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Suspect causes pain and damage in incident downtown Friday morning

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Nursing staff at West Coast General Hospital celebrate the announcement of a $6.25-million expansion of the emergency department that will start in March 2021. (File photo)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

Most Read