The B.C. government has announced an emergency relief fund for parents and guardians of children with special needs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund will provide a direct payment of $225 per month to eligible families over the next three months, until June 30. The money, doled out to families on a need-by-need basis, can be used to pay for meal preparation and grocery shopping, caregiver relief support, counselling services and other services that support family functioning, the province said.
“We have been hearing from families of children with special needs that they are facing a lot of uncertainty right now,” Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development, said in a statement on Wednesday (April 8).
The emergency fund will help support 50 per cent more of the eligible families in B.C. that are still awaiting various services.
About 30,000 children and youth with special needs use services through the province.
The province also announced it would be relaxing a number of measures under the Children and Youth with Special Needs policy guidelines in order to offer more flexibility in the immediate future.
Those changes include putting a moratorium on monthly maintenance payments for families on special needs or voluntary care agreements, expanding staffing for programs directed to Aboriginal children and allowing more families to be eligible for the At Home Program medical benefits.
For families of children with autism, parameters under the Autism Funding program will be expanded so families can use up to 35 per cent of available funds to buy equipment that assists home learning, as well as redirect those funds to pay for family counselling and therapy services.