Families with children under six diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can now officially apply for individual funding that was promised in April’s provincial budget.
The province allocated $2.8 million in this budget year to provide up to $4,000 in individual funding for children with ASD under six.
In a news release, the provincial health minister said the government remains committed to improving services for children with ASD along with their caregivers and families.
“Individualized funding will provide more choice and flexibility for families, and improve access to supports,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said in a news release.
Advocates described the funding as a start but questioned what services would be covered. Now the province is providing an answer.
After several months of consultation with affected families who were part of a working group, the province will now begin accepting applications for the funding based on a list of registered eligible services.
The application form is available online and families can apply at any time.
Families who apply and meet the criteria will receive the first payments under the program in August.
The government estimates about 700 children will be eligible for the funding this year to cover part of the cost of therapeutic interventions and family supports based on their individual needs.
The $4,000 can be used to put toward the cost of paying for professional services such as behavioural consultants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers and speech pathologists.
The money may also be used to pay for respite services, therapeutic equipment and even training for parents or caregivers.
A registry of eligible service providers will also be posted on the government website in August.
The province is encouraging private service providers to sign up to be included in the registry.
The ASD Individualized Funding Program is in addition to autism support services which are already provided by the province at a cost of $8.5 million.