December 2, 2023

Services to help children and youth with support needs and their families are being boosted through $7 million in grant funding to community-based service providers and advocacy organizations.

“Community service providers are essential partners in government’s work to make services for children and youth with support needs more flexible and responsive for families,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “These grants will help service providers help more families and make sure that children and youth are supported between now and when our transition to needs-based services is complete in 2024.”

The Ministry of Children and Family Development is awarding four one-time grants to:

  • Vancouver Foundation ($2.76 million);
  • the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation ($215,000);
  • Inclusion BC ($2 million); and
  • Sunny Hill Health Centre ($2 million). 

These one-time grants are part of government’s work to establish a new system of support for children and youth with support needs and their families that will allow better and more consistent access to information, expert intervention, mental-health supports and therapies at new family connections centres being established throughout the province.

Grant funding for Vancouver Foundation will support its work with respite service providers to extend respite services to families of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Under the patchwork of programs government inherited, many families have not been able to access these services. The $2.76-million grant will help about 400 families access much-needed respite services until the new system is implemented.

“We’re acting quickly to respond to a recommendation from the representative for children and youth to close the gap in services for families of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder,” Dean said. “For too long, these families have been left out and left behind, despite their children having significant needs. That’s one of the key reasons we’re building a new system of supports and services for children and youth with support needs – to make them inclusive and based on each child’s unique needs.”

Grant funding for the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation will support the launch of a three-year pilot program that aims to deliver consistent, timely and direct support tailored specifically to children, youth and young adults with Down syndrome. The program will be run out of the foundation’s Burnaby office and will inform future provincial direction for these supports as government moves toward the new service approach for children and youth with support needs.

Grant funding for Inclusion BC will support a community-development approach to the new system of services.

Finally, grant funding to Sunny Hill Health Centre will support the creation and delivery of assessment training for family connections centre staff and clinicians to ensure families receive a consistent approach to services throughout the province.


Kevin McCort, president and CEO, Vancouver Foundation –

“Vancouver Foundation believes that collaboration between government, charities, and families and caregivers of children and youth with support needs will deliver real benefits to young people and their communities throughout British Columbia. We are proud to be a partner in this new initiative as we work to deliver positive impacts for families.”

Wayne Leslie, chief executive officer, Down Syndrome Resource Foundation (DSRF) –

“This funding is vital for DSRF to be able to meet the growing needs of B.C.’s Down syndrome community. As a charity, we subsidize all our services through fundraising to make them as accessible as possible for families, many of whom face significant financial strain as they raise a child with a disability. Generating the additional funds required to introduce and ultimately sustain new services, such as behavioural health support for children and youth with Down syndrome, can be prohibitively challenging. New partnerships, like this one with MCFD, are essential to ensuring that every child receives the support they need to thrive.”

Karla Verschoor, executive director, Inclusion BC –

“The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, the BC Association for Child Development and Intervention, the Federation of Community Social Service Providers of BC, and Inclusion BC have come together to promote a collaborative, community-led approach to the implementation of the new service framework for children and youth with support needs. Our collective goal is to bring members of the community and local organizations together to support a process that harnesses the existing strength throughout the province, community by community, to ensure the best possible system of support for children and youth with support needs and their families.”

Sarah Bell, chief operating officer, BC Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre –

“The teams at Sunny Hill Health Centre at BC Children’s Hospital are excited to be involved with the new family connections centres. Sunny Hill staff have been at the forefront of using a trauma-informed, culturally safe and respectful approach so that children and youth feel they are receiving welcoming, safe and inclusive care.  We’re happy to partner with the Ministry of Children and Family Development and other child-serving services to benefit families and our health-care partners across the province. We are grateful to the Province of B.C. and the Ministry of Children and Family Development for supporting this important initiative.”

Learn More:

For more information on the new system of supports, visit:

Questions about the new service approach can be directed to the Children and Youth with Support Needs Resource Line: 1 833 882-0024


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