Advisors to special-needs families getting cut
Published Saturday, October 3, 2009 1:49PM PDT
The B.C. government is planning to scrap teams of advisors who help families with special-needs children get in touch with the right child-care workers and who give guidance to those workers.
The provincial offices for the Infant Development Program, Aboriginal Infant Development Program and Supported Child Development Program are all affected.
They have been given one to six months to wrap up their work.
Dana Brynelsen, a provincial advisor who oversees a team of five regional advisors and an administrative assistant in the Infant Development Program, said her office has been in operation for more than 30 years and was receiving $300,000 a year.
Staff have three months to finish their work, she said.
In an interview with CTV News, Brynelsen said her team helps families find the right doctors and special therapists. They also keep up with the latest medical advances.
"That just doesn't grow on a tree somewhere. That's information, guidance and support that is directly translated into better services for families," she said.
In a press release issued this week, Brynelsen said the office has helped more than 80,000 families since its inception.
"It is designed so that families ... can receive the same quality of service regardless of where they may live," she wrote.
Brynelsen said the office also helps professionals who, for instance, need to know where to refer a newly diagnosed baby or to access up-to-date early-childhood intervention information or training.
But Mary Polak, minister of children and family development, told CTV News that because service programs are so well-established, there isn't as much of a need for the provincial advisors anymore.
Polak stressed that parents should not see any impact on front-line services.
And the $600,000 that will be saved from eliminating the advisory roles will be re-invested in front-line services, she said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's St. John Alexander