(File photo)

Over 1,300 families who have children with special needs are expected to benefit from increased funding into BC’s family respite services.

A total of $6.3 million is being added to the province’s respite program, which will cut down the waitlist for families looking to receive respite services by half, according to the province.

BC’s respite services offer families time with qualified caregivers who come to their homes as they attend to other family priorities, behaviour support, housekeeping, parenting skills training, counselling, life-skills programs for children, and more.

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“We’ve heard how incredibly important respite care is for families,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development.

“Parents can get so caught up caring for a loved one that they forget to take time for themselves. They often don’t have the luxury of asking a friend, neighbour or relative to step in for them. Respite offers them a chance to recharge and the peace of mind that comes from having a skilled professional they can count on with the training to meet their child’s unique care needs.”

The $6.3 million boost will help cut the number of families waiting for respite services in half, and will also increase the base funding amount that each family can receive by almost $300, up from $2,800 to $3,080.

The increase is the first time that the base funding amount has risen since 1989.

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The investment went into effect on April 1st, 2019, and is expected to reach 1,300 families by spring 2020.

“Respite is a necessity,” said Jason Gordon, provincial advocate for the BC Association of Child Development and Intervention.

“It allows parents of children with special needs the opportunity to take care of the day-to-day things most of us take for granted, spend time with other family members or simply take the time to rest. Respite allows parents to ultimately give more, and as a result, it brings families closer together and makes them stronger.”

For more information on services available for children and youth with special needs and their families, visit the BC government’s website online here.

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