Starbright Children’s Development Centre announced it was closing this past week, sending shock waves through the autism community.
This non-profit centre has been operating since 1966, and has served thousands of families with children with autism.
Why are they closing?
Their funding agreement with the province has not been renewed.
The provincial funding system is a mess.
Last year, the province announced Family Connection Centres as a hub model for all autism care.
Then, after the outcry of families traumatized by this decision, Premier Eby announced in the fall that they would be reversing this decision, and going back to individualized funding for families.
Good news, right?
Not so fast.
The province kept four hub model pilot projects – and one of those is in the Okanagan.
So now we have Okanagan families once again going through the trauma of not knowing where their providers are going to come from.
We also have a nonprofit organization, namely, Starbright, who no longer has a contract and may not be able to serve the thousands of families that they currently do.
So, which way is the government going?
Are they going back to individualized funding with supports for organizations that are offering care and treatment for those with autism?
Or is the NDP government trying shutter the current care providers and create a hub model, while promising not to?
If the NDP government want to run the pilot program, then they should do so, while keeping all of the other methodologies in place.
This would allow a constant care model for those with current providers, while getting the other model up and running.
Alternatively, if the government is going back to individualized funding, then there is no need for the pilot project nor is there a need for the hub model in general.
Why are we paying 72 million tax dollars for something that is unnecessary under the individualized funding model?
Needless to say, parents in the Okanagan are feeling heartbroken, confused, and unsure of all of that this means.
This is yet another example of how government programs need to be better managed.
The people who rely on these systems of care and programming can’t be left stressed by disorganization and inefficiency.
Governments need to be clear, and communicate programs and policy in a way that people understand.
Saying one thing, and doing another, does not increase trust in our democratic institutions.
In this case, the government appears disingenuous.
Meanwhile, this inefficient and disorganized hub system pilot is going to cost the Okanagan one of its most utilized supports.
Starbright, and all of the families that it serves, deserved better.
My question to you is this:
Should there be a hub model in the Okanagan after Premier Eby said that we would be going back to individualized funding?
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