By Dr. Ron Unruh
This synopsis of government funding for families of an autistic child is specific to British Columbia with some occasional links to other Canadian provinces for follow-up by readers.
1. There is Autism Funding in British Columbia. The Ministry of Children and Family Development provides two funding programs, one for children under 6 years of age and another for children 6-18. These programs provide the means by which children may benefit from intervention to facilitate communication, social and emotional development as well as functional and academic skill development. The Funding is available in all regions of B.C. and is intended to assist parents to purchase the intervention services most suitable to their child, providing families maximum choice and flexibility.
2. If your child has received an ASD diagnosis, a parent may apply and enroll in the Autism Funding Program by contacting a local office of the Ministry of Children and Family Development to complete the funding agreement. Here is the MCFD page for regional office contact numbers.
3. For a child under the age of 6 (six), the funding must be used for those autism intervention services deemed to be eligible, such as behaviour consultants, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists who are listed on the Registry of Autism Service Providers (RASP). Also the funding is used for behavoural interventionists, administrative costs (as much as $100 per month) and other applicable employer expenses like Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, Employee Income Tax and Workers Compensation Board Premiums and 4% vacation pay.
4. For a child over the age of 6 (six) and up to age 18 (eighteen) the funding must be used for the following: Behaviour consultants, Speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, Behaviour interventionists, Life skills and social skills programs, Out-of-school support/tutoring (not part of regular school program), Specialized therapeutic activities and camps designed to address your child’s ASD, Dietary or nutritional counselling from a registered dietician/nutritionist, Family counselling/therapy, Other interventions recommended by a professional/specialist* (pre-approval suggested), Administrative costs (up to $50 monthly), applicable employer costs (e.g. employee income tax, Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance and Workers Compensation Board premiums, 4% vacation pay).
5. ‘A Parent’s Handbook: Your Guide to Autism Programs’ is available upon request at 1 877 777-3530. Here is the online version.
6. The handbook clarifies that not all interventions and equipment are eligible funding expenses and among these are such things as Home repairs/renovations/swimming pools/ hot tubs/trampolines/playground equipment; Household items, including appliances; General recreation and sports enrolment fees; Sports/fitness equipment, including bicycles; Electronics, including televisions, CD players, stereos, MP3 players, game systems, video games, tracking devices, and cellular phones/palm pilots; Non-ASD specific CDs, DVDs, and videos; Musical instruments; Vitamins/medical supplies/incontinence supplies/orthotics; Clothing/helmets; Food (small reinforcers for Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy may be eligible).
7. Autism Handbook is available in other languages than English:
Autism Funding Unit, PO Box 9776 STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC V8W 9S5
Telephone in Greater Victoria: 250 387-3530
Elsewhere in BC call toll free: 1 877 777-3530
Fax: 250 356-8578
9. ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder must be Properly Assessed and Diagnosed in order to quality for Funding.
In British Columbia assessment and diagnosis is conducted at no cost by British Columbia Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN) to which you are referred by your family doctor. For more information on ASD diagnosis and testing, visit the BCAAN website or contact BCAAN at 604 453-8343. If they so chose, parents may purchase a private diagnostic assessment but this must meet the same standards and guidelines as the BCAAN.
10. Children previously Diagnosed out of Province or out of Country or before April 1, 2004, must have a qualified BC specialist complete a Confirmation of Diagnosis form in order to apply for Autism Funding Programs.
11. The amount of the funding is substantial.
- Autism Funding for a Child Under Age 6
- The Under Age 6 program provides families up to $22,000 per year per child to assist in purchasing eligible autism intervention services and therapies. An intervention program for a young child with ASD must be based on a plan that takes into consideration the child’s unique strengths and needs and best practices. This behavioural plan of intervention is written by a Behaviour Consultant. Parents must select Behaviour Consultants, Physiotherapists, Speech Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists from the Registry of Autism Service Providers.
- The Autism Funding for a Child Between Ages 6-18
- The 6-18 program provides families up to $6,000 per year per child to assist them with the cost of purchasing eligible autism intervention services and therapies outside of school. This funding is in addition to the educational program and special education services provided through school boards.
- Forms for Funding for Under 6
- Forms for Funding Between 6-18
- Specialist Assessment Forms
- Service Providers
14. Again I refer you to the Ministry’s webpage entitled Autism Spectrum Disorder where I encourage you to scroll down the left hand index.
15. To make Yourself aware of the Tax Implications see this Canada Revenue page, T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate For additonal reading on this topic see J.C. Boyd’s BC Family Law Resource called Child Support Guidelines.
16. News Articles of Particular Interest
- B.C. Government axes intensive therapy program for autistic children, Sept 17, 2009 Kelowna report also CBC story
- A very dated 1997 Brief to Members of Parliament called ‘Solution to the Human Suffering and Social Cost of Autism’ by Families for Early Autism Treatment in BC (FEAT)
- Autism Funding in B.C. (or, Autism Funding for Dummies) not my subtitle but the website’s. This is a site about money and administration. A well-run therapy program will cost $50,000 per year. Where will the money come from?
- Milburn Drysdale, formerly a banker by trade, moved to BC a few years ago. He has one child with autism who has not yet reached school age. He has established a website that has fully developed a user-friendly informational approach to topics a parent of an autistic child will ask. Autism Funding in B.C. or, Autism for Dummies.
- A Behavioural Consultant will cost $110-$150 per our.
- A Behavioural Consultant’s observation of your child at school and a subsequent report will cost $500-$00.
- A Behavioural Interventionist can charge $16-$25 dependent upon experience.
- Speech Therapy is $110 per hour.
- Occupational Therapists cost $110 per hour.
- Consultation by a Naturopathic Doctor and all relevant testing is out of pocket.