FREDERICTON (GNB) – A provincial program that supports children with disabilities and their families is being modernized with an investment of $1.5 million, Social Development Minister Madeleine Dubé announced today.

The Community Based Services for Children with Special Needs Program provides social work support and financial resources to assist families in meeting the special developmental needs of their children.

“By modernizing this program we are following through on a government commitment,” said Dubé. “Changing the program will help government better support families in accessing the programs and services they need to raise children with disabilities.”

The improvements being made are the direct result of feedback the department received through public consultation with individuals involved with the program.

The improvements will:

●    enhance the program philosophy;
●    increase accessibility for eligible families, and
●    expand the range of available services.

The program philosophy will be modified to reflect a family-centred, strength-based approach to serving children with disabilities and their families. To implement this philosophy:

●    the program will be renamed Family Supports for Children with Disabilities;
●    the program options will be more flexible and focused on the needs of the family, allowing them to customize support solutions to the needs of their particular circumstances; and
●    training opportunities will be provided to program staff.

To increase accessibility for eligible families:

●    enhanced communication will be provided on the program and services available;  
●    the application process will be streamlined;
●    there wil be new eligibility criterion;
●    a revised Family Financial Contribution Scale Policy will be introduced; and
●    As youth age out of the children's program, those eligible will be assisted with a direct case transfer to the Disability Support Program.

Available support services will be more flexible and responsive to the identified needs of the family and child. To increase support services, the following supports will be enhanced:

●    families admitted to the program will have the opportunity to participate in family-centred meetings. These meetings will create a team approach in assisting families and children with disabilities;
●    the new program will introduce the implementation of a two-pronged service delivery model which allows families to self-manage their case plan or request the ongoing support of a social worker;
●    enhanced service options will be available for families raising children with disabilities. For families with children with severe disabilities, this may include participation in specialized or intensive interventions, parent training or other applicable programs;
●    supplementary child care and special medical items will be available; and
●    reimbursement rates will be increased for eligible clients.

“The healthy development and well-being of children with disabilities should always come first,” said Dubé. “Families raising children with disabilities should have a range of quality services and support options. Families should have the tools to make informed decisions as they choose services to meet their needs.”