BC Liberals: Government needs to improve care that children and youth with special needs deserve

KARIN Kirkpatrick, BC Liberal Critic for Children and Family Development and MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano, reacting to the report by the Representative for Children and Youth, Left Out: Children and youth with special needs in the pandemic, on Thursday said in a statement: “The pandemic has hit all British Columbians hard but this report by the Representative for Children and Youth illustrates just how much of an extra burden that families with special needs have carried.

“Reading the stories contained within the report … is heartbreaking and highlights the need to take immediate action. The government should not just accept the eight recommendations but commit to immediately implementing them.

“In particular, the minister needs to ensure all pandemic-related benefits for children and youth with special needs families be extended for one year till the fall of 2021. This is essential to protecting the physical and mental health of these children and ​their parents.

“The call of a pandemic election meant ​that when supports expired in September, there was no recourse for months and no services. The government needs to act quickly to provide the support that evaporated earlier this fall.

“As well, the government needs to follow through on the recommendations from the 2018 report, Alone and Afraid. There was supposed to be a comprehensive plan in place by the fall of 2019 and funding by April 2020. That hasn’t happened.

“Government needs to stop the delays, break down the silos between ministries and improve the care that children and youth with special needs deserve. This report too clearly shows that parents were turned away from the help they needed, not just by the Ministry of Children and Families but other ministries like education and social services, which should have been assisting them through the pandemic.

“No child deserves treatment that leaves them out in the cold. They deserve the backing and respect of the government, not just during a pandemic.”