I am writing this letter to raise awareness about the lack of funding for children with special needs in our communities. Did you know that Early Intervention and Supported Child Care Services have not received an increase in funding in the West Kootenay Boundary area for almost eight years?
Yet the number of children with special needs continues to increase every year! As a result, waitlists are growing exponentially, services are consultative, shared support seems to be more the norm and children’s special needs are going unmet for a ridiculous amount of precious time.
As a parent of a child accessing these services, I feel that this is totally unacceptable of our provincial government. Rather than investing in our children, our future, they are choosing to spend their money elsewhere. What’s truly disheartening is that some children have to wait 18 months to 2 years for certain services...which in some cases totally defeats the purpose of early intervention!!!
In essence, service need outweighs service ability and it’s not fair to make children and families wait for services that could potentially change their child’s developmental trajectory. In some cases, families have had to settle for the bare minimum of service that doesn’t optimally address their children’s needs, whereas other children and families seem to have “fallen through the cracks.”
It’s imperative that the province of BC show more of a commitment to investing in the early years. Early Intervention and Supported Child Care services should be seen as essential services and are in desperate need of increased funding.
Decades of thorough research indicate that children’s earliest experiences play a critical role in brain development, especially in the first 3 years of life. High quality early intervention services improve outcomes for children, families, and communities, and can reduce the incidence of future problems in learning, behaviour and health status.
Overall, intervention is likely more effective and less costly when it is offered earlier in life, when the brain is most capable of change, rather than later on down the road.
I’m sure our region’s story is not unique in this province. I encourage others to engage in advocacy efforts in this regard. We need to let the BC government know that investing in ALL of our children, regardless of ability, should be at the top of their agenda...ALWAYS!
All children deserve the best start in life, anything less is unacceptable!!
Laranna Androsoff, Parent
Grand Forks, BC
**Early intervention services include services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and Infant Development. Supported Child Care is the extra support a child with special needs receives in a daycare or preschool setting in order to meet their additional needs, helping them get the most from their learning environment.