COVID-19 BC Family Survey Results: Children and Youth with Special Needs

Family Support Institute of BCInclusion BC/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">BC Parents of Complex Kids, and BCEdAccess heard from families about your experiences accessing emergency pandemic funding and/or services for your child or youth with disabilities through the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s (MCFD) Children and Youth with Special Needs (CYSN) Program. Our organizations hear regularly from families who struggle with accessing funding and services, and we know that the current pandemic has brought more pressure to many children and youth with disabilities and their families. In response, we worked together to create a survey to find out how families are coping with the extra pressures caused by COVID-19, and to hear about their experiences assessing emergency pandemic, funding and/or services for their child or youth with disabilities through MCFD’s CYSN program.= In 2 1/2 days we received over 1,000 families who responded to the survey. Thank you! We presented the results to Minister Conroy and MCFD on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

Survey Details: Who did we ask, and how?

This survey was distributed to our networks via email newsletter and across social media. It ran from 3:00 pm on Thursday, April 23, 2020, to midnight on Saturday, April 25, 2020. 1,055 B.C. parents and guardians of children and youth with disabilities/special needs responded to the survey. These parents and guardians are from every region served by MCFD.  The report shows how B.C. families are accessing, or not, emergency pandemic funding and/or services for their children or youth with disabilities. What do you need right now during the pandemic?

Full BC Family Survey Results


Top three needs for families dealing with COVID-19:

Flexibility: Flexibility in the use of funding (school-age therapy, autism funding, behavioural consultant, counselling) – 60.6% Financial Support: To cover expenses associated with my child’s disability 35.6% Clarity: To know if I am eligible for any pandemic supports – 57.8%;  and to provide clarity on how respite funds may be used – 39.2%


Our recommendations to the Ministry of Children and Family Development:

Flexible Use of Funding Provide broad flexibility in the use of funds families receive through different CYSN programs during the pandemic, following a family-centred approach. Financial Support – $525 per month Support the resilience of families by easing their financial burden. Provide $525 per month (to be used at the family’s discretion) for the next 3 months to support families to stay strong and together. Clear Communications Provide clear, written guidelines on emergency pandemic measures and supports.Ensure effective, clear, and responsive communication from social workers.Publish explicit health and safety protocols based on recommendations from the Public Health Officer to allow families to access in-person supports. Support those excluded from CYSN Recognize the many families of children and youth with disabilities left out of the CYSN funding structure and provide them with financial and other types of support during the pandemic. Child Opportunity Benefit Work in collaboration with the Ministries of Finance and Social Development and Poverty Reduction to introduce the Child Opportunity Benefit earlier – May 1, 2020.


Our Major Findings: 

Nearly 60% of families responding have not been able to access any of the MCFD emergency pandemic measures as referenced in this announcement. Nearly 70% of families responding who have regular access to respite funds (not including the Emergency Relief Support Fund) have not been able to use those funds during the pandemic. Does your family qualify to receive the emergency funding of $225
From the families responding who receive CYSN support, 55% were not receiving respite funding before the pandemic. These are the people the Emergency Relief Support Funding was meant to help. However, when we asked which of the emergency measures families were able to access, only 6.8% said they were able to access the $225. Only 50 families out of 1055. The measures that are meant to support them are not working for these families.   To view the full survey report click here.

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