The Family Voices Project
The Family Voices Project is a collaborative initiative aimed at gathering the invaluable insights, experiences, and desires of families with children and youth who have disabilities.
The Family Support Institute of BC (FSI) is embarking on a community engagement journey to gather stories on what has and has not been working in the current system for Children and Youth with Support Needs (CYSN). We want to hear from you on how CYSN services and supports in BC can be improved, so that our children and youth can get the help they so critically deserve. We will be gathering your stories and experiences in person and online, in a way that best works for you.
Want us to visit your community? We need your voice! Please take our Engagement Survey and let us know the best way(s) we can engage with you and your family.
Your Time, Your Impact
Your participation will make a significant impact in shaping a better future for individuals with disabilities and their families. We truly believe in the power of community, collaboration, and the richness of diverse perspectives.
Thank you for considering this opportunity to be a part of The Family Voices Project. Your input will help us bring about positive change, one story at a time. We look forward to hearing from you and hope to connect with you soon.
We value your opinion on how best to engage with your family. We want to ensure that your voice is heard in a way that makes sense to you. We have built in many options to try to meet the needs of the most families, and we continue to strive to be flexible and malleable going forward. We are open to meet virtually (online) and in person. We will offer 1:1 interviews, focus groups, or larger group meetings online and in person as well. We are also open to hybrid options, making available both online and in person combined.
In acknowledgment of the rich Indigenous heritage of British Columbia and the importance of cultural sensitivity, we are thrilled to include an Indigenous cultural component in our engagement choices. This component offers the opportunity to engage in ways that honour traditional practices and values, fostering an inclusive atmosphere for all participants. We welcome your thoughts on how we can best incorporate this cultural element into our project.
Here are a few ideas, including the Indigenous cultural component. We welcome any other suggestions you might have:
- Gathering at a local meeting space for a structured discussion that incorporates Indigenous storytelling and teachings.
- Meeting online in a focus group based on child’s need/disability.
- Meeting at a nearby park for a casual and open conversation that includes a connection to the land and nature.
- Meeting in a large group with a mixture of families from varying backgrounds with kids of various needs and disabilities (in person with hybrid option made available)
- Have an in person talking circle (hybrid option added to the circle).
- Hosting a session at a comfortable and welcoming home environment, integrating Indigenous cultural elements
- Sharing stories over a shared meal infused with diverse cultural culinary traditions, creating a warm and inclusive atmosphere.
Questions and Answers
The landscape of support services for children with disabilities in British Columbia (CYSN) has been undergoing changes. In 2020, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) launched a new service model with their intention of improving services for families and children with disabilities and support needs. During this announcement MCFD advised that Autism funding would also cease in the coming year for families who receive individualized funding, and all services would be delivered through “Hubs” or “Family Connections Centers” in communities. The announcement left many families with more questions than answers, feeling unheard, in an upheaval, and apprehensive about the future wellbeing of their loved ones. The new model, while aiming to streamline services, resulted in limited options and choices for families. Moreover, it became evident that the model lacked a culturally safe and trauma-informed approach.
In response to these concerns, Premier David Eby along with MCFD have re-set the Provincial roll-out to the service model, scaling it back to 4 pilot regions to better understand its impact. Premier Eby reinstated individualized funding for autism as well during this re-set. Recognizing the importance of directly engaging with families accessing Children and Youth with Support Needs (CYSN) services, a few organizations have been granted the opportunity to work closely with these families. The objective is to gain deeper insights into their experiences within the current CYSN framework and to gather their perspectives on shaping the future of these services.
FSI has been asked to engage with 4 groups of people:
- Families of complex kids
- Transitioning youth
- Families of kids who have dual diagnosis (a disability combined with a mental health condition)
As part of our grant, FSI has partnered with the UBC Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship (CIIC) to conduct research on the findings derived from these family engagements. The intention behind this collaboration is to ensure that the stories and data collected continue to drive ongoing strategies to hold MCFD accountable to what they hear from families now and into the future.
To achieve this, we plan to conduct an extensive research project, employing methods such as online surveys, one-on-one interviews (online and in person), focus groups (online and in person), large group meetings (online and in person), and a provincial tour (options for hybrid). Our aim is to connect with individuals and families in ways that resonate with them, ensuring that we capture the most valuable information possible. All options will be accessible, and we will do our best to reduce any and all barriers for families to ensure we can hear from those that want to participate.
Gift cards: For families that participate in the online focus groups or the 1:1 interviews, these will be conducted by the CIIC and follow research guidelines. These families will receive a $25 gift card for their participation.
For the families that participate in hybrid sessions and in person sessions, these sessions will be conducted by FSI and will utilize the same interview questions that the CIIC will be using. We may be able to also provide a $25 gift card to these families, but this will only be determined after we know how many people we will be meeting, based on your responses to the Engagement Survey, as this aspect is unknown and needs to be budget determined.
Childcare: FSI can provide childcare reimbursement to families who want to participate in this project (either in person or online). Please tell us your anticipated childcare expenses in the Engagement Survey as this needs to be pre-approved in advance.
Travel: We can reimburse mileage for those who need to travel to the sessions we book in person or online. Tell us in the Engagement Survey about your needs in this area. These will also need to be pre-approved in advance, since the project has a specific budget, and we have no idea the number of people who will request this funding. In order for us to manage this budget, we need to know in advance how much funding is being requested to be able to accommodate the requests. Much of our budget is going towards this budget item.