(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

Undated Google photo of Safeway (20871 Fraser Hwy.).
Safeway, FreshCo, Shoppers and three Langley schools record COVID-19 cases

Two COVID-positive staff reported at same Safeway within days

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:30 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash blocking left lane in Langley

Incident at 264th Street slowing morning commuters

Aldergrove legion branch #265. (Aldergrove Star files)
Final phase of $14 million federal support fund rolls out to legion branches

Branches still reeling from pandemic receive remaining $3.8 million in emergency funds

Italian flat leaf parsley can be used in pesto, replacing fresh basil. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
ON COOKING: Chef Dez does parsley pesto

Pesto traditionally has fresh basil but it can also be made with another fresh herb

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
COVID-19 border closure stops B.C. family’s cross-country move

Maple Ridge couple, two kids, turned away at New Brunswick border

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna RCMP reviewing rough arrest after video shared on social media

The video shows an officer punching a man while arresting him for allegedly driving a stolen car

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

Michael Bublé in video posted to Arts Club Theatre Company’s Youtube channel.
VIDEO: Arts Club alum Michael Bublé backs theatre company’s re-opening campaign

Pandemic has caused 15 months of suspended operations for Arts Club, founded in 1964

Football player Christian Covington in photo posted to twitter.com/Chargers.
Surrey-raised NFLer Covington charged up to join Los Angeles team

Christian Covington, son of CFL Hall-of-Famer Grover Covington, grew up in the Sullivan Heights area

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
B.C. to provide three days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

(Pixabay)
B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

Most Read