January 11th, 2018

Cuts to Direct Family Support program unacceptable

Nearly $1 million removed from support services

Halifax – Documents accessed by the NDP Caucus through a freedom of information request show that funding for the Direct Family Support for Children program has been cut by almost $1 million over the last four years. The program is accessed by families who need financial support for services respite care and support workers.

"The main government program for children with autism only covers them until age six. This funding helps families who need additional supports for their children at home and as they age," said Susan Leblanc, NDP spokesperson for Community Services. “Without government programs that support children beyond school-age, families are stuck finding services with limited financial support from the province.”

According to the documents, funding has diminished steadily from 2013/2014 ($7.64 million) to the 2017/2018 budget ($6.70 million). The number of families who received support from the program has also dropped.

"Funding from the Direct Family Support program is vital for my family,” said Crystal Way, whose 14-year-old son has autism and requires continuous supervision. "We use this funding for support workers that provide respite care and give us a chance to go out as a family or spend one-on-one time with my younger son.”

Way’s son is non-verbal and needs a support worker with him when out in public. Without funding from the government she would have limited access to respite care.

"We've heard from many families who are desperate for better services for their children. For the Liberal government to cut funding to this existing program when families already have limited options is unacceptable," said Leblanc.
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