Table of contents > Chapter Eight: Partners in the Educational Journey


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If there is a partner that you can’t find in this chapter and you would like to learn more or suggest adding it to this chapter, please send us an email to

In this chapter: 

  1. School-Aged Therapy
    a. Speech and Language Pathologists 
    b. Occupational Therapists 
    c. Physiotherapists
  2. Health Services and Supports
    a. Family Doctors and Paediatricians 
    b. Nursing Support Services (NSS)
    c. Indigenous Patient Liaison Programs
    d. First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) 
  3. Ministry of Children and Family Development
    a. Children and Youth with Support Needs (CYSN)
    b. Early Childhood Intervention Programs
         i. Resources: Early Years
    c. Autism Spectrum Disorder
         i. Resources: Autism Spectrum Disorder
    d. Complex Health Needs
         i. Resources: Complex Health Needs
    e. FASD Key Worker and Parent Support Program
         i. Resources: FASD Key Worker and Parent Support Program
    f. Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafblind, Blind, and Partially-Sighted
    g. Intellectual Disabilities
         i. Resources: Intellectual Disabilities
    h. Child and Youth Mental Health 
  4. Behaviour Consultant or Analyst 
  5. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapist/Support Worker/Consultant 
  6. Child Care Centre and/or Supported Child Development Program or Aboriginal Supported Child Development Program 
  7. Family Support Worker 
  8. Services to Adults with Developmental Disabilities (STADD) 
  9. Peer-to-peer support networks 
  10. Mapping out your child’s team


“It takes a village to raise a child.” 

By the time a child enters school, their parents or caregivers may have already built a network of professionals around them, or as their child grows, other partners might join this network. These community partners who have gotten to know the child and their family will likely play an important role in their education and life. As the child enters school, these professionals can work together to integrate resources and strategies to support them in different areas of their life.    

reference to other chapter iconRead more about how these partners may contribute formally through a school-based team (Chapter 3)

The community partners listed here work within or partner with the school system to support students with disabilities and additional support needs.  

“In my experience, therapists have always played an important role in my child’s education team. Long before my son entered school, I developed trusted relationships with my therapists. They became a lifeline to me, teaching me valuable strategies to support my son’s learning. They helped me through the transition to kindergarten and beyond. Therapists offer valuable input to the school team and often help guide a new way of looking at a student. Therapists are highly skilled at delivering quality programming on a 1:1 basis and have different abilities then educators have. They are able to look at the child where their skills are lagging and offer strategies of support, with a plan on how to move forward. It may not work the first time, but it is important to keep trying. It is also important to have communication between the school and home teams so that a child is receiving the same language. Therapists offer collaborative strategies between home and school. When there has been disagreement or barriers to inclusion, they have supported me to advocate for effective solutions.” — Parent

Here are a few of the partners that can help or be involved with your child during their educational years. 

1. School-Aged Therapy

a. Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP)

Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP) identify and evaluate a student’s communication delay/disorder that may interfere with their academic progress and/or social-emotional adjustment.  

Though some children access this support before they start school, others will see the Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) through the school. This usually happens in the early grades, before grade 5. After evaluating the child, the SLP helps design an intervention program to help them succeed. Some SLPs are more involved than others, depending on the needs of the child and/or the amount of support available within the district.  

SLPs often attend IEP meetings and work closely with the classroom teacher to support the child. When parents are denied the service or when the hours are insufficient, some choose to pay privately. reference to external resource icon Learn more about Speech and Language services here. 

b. Occupational Therapists (OT)

Occupational Therapists (OT) will assess the child’s school environment and recommend a plan that includes strategies and accommodations to help school personnel work with the child.  

Sometimes the Occupational Therapist (OT) will observe the student in class and other times the strategies are based on feedback from school personnel. Occupational Therapists can work with children who have physical disabilities and need support with feeding and mobility. They can also help to understand the sensory and self-regulation needs of your child and can suggest strategies and tools for the classroom.  reference to external resource icon Learn more about what occupational therapists do here. 

c. Physiotherapists (PT)

Physiotherapists (PT) help students participate physically throughout their school day. School-based physiotherapy is somewhat different than medical physiotherapy that you might access in a clinic.  

Where medical physiotherapy focuses on fixing the physical limitations of the child, school-based physical therapy is meant to ensure that the child has physical access to their education. A physiotherapist might recommend adaptive seating or may educate the staff on ways to enhance physical participation. Learn more about reference to external resource icon what physiotherapists do here and an example of what physiotherapists can do in schools here. 


2. Health Services and Supports

a. Family Doctors and Paediatricians

Doctors are often important partners with parents and schools. They can identify the need for additional supports, share relevant information with schools, meet with IEP teams, use school information to inform diagnosis or treatment and help improve how schools can support your child.  

Many paediatricians require a referral, which can be given by your family doctor or walk-in clinic. 

b. Nursing Support Services (NSS)

A provincial program that is overseen from BC Children’s Hospital and has a regional coordinator in each Health Authority. 

Nursing Support Services “helps parents and caregivers of children and youth (0-19) with medical complexities to lead active healthy lives in their communities.” Through this program, families have access to support from nurses who come into the home to provide respite care. When a child enters school, nurses can develop an individualized care plan, which will help school staff provide diabetes care, seizure care, and tube feeds. 

In cases where the health care procedures are complex and cannot be delegated through a care plan, nurses may be required to provide direct care in the school. 

Nurses can also help families apply and qualify for the reference to external resource icon At Home Program 

The regional coordinators are usually the direct contact for families and support them in a variety of ways – understanding the system, equipment, and supplies requests, coordination of care, etc. 

While families may qualify for a certain number of hours through Nursing Support Services, it is not always available for a variety of reasons. In some cases, this might need some advocacy support, you are welcome to reach out to our Community Inclusion Advocacy program for support.  

c. Indigenous Patient Liaison Programs

There are a variety of these programs by each Health Authority and sometimes within specific programs or hospitals. For example, the program from the Northern Health Authority offers in-hospital and community support to help Indigenous people and their families with accessing culturally safe healthcare services.  

Through the program, “patient navigators” work with health care staff to help patients with “health care and discharge planning, hospital stay information, completing forms, referrals to community services, and with navigating the health care system.” reference to external resource icon You can learn more about the Aboriginal Patient Liaison Program here. 

d. First Nations Health Authority (FNHA)

“The FNHA plans, designs, manages and funds the delivery of First Nations health programs across BC.” (First Nations Health Authority website) 

The FNHA has a section which offers Maternal, Child, and Family Health information and resources. It includes information about Aboriginal Head Start On-Reserve, and Jordan’s Principle, among others. reference to external resource icon You can learn about their resources here. 


3. Ministry of Children and Family Development

 a. Children and Youth with Support Needs (CYSN)

For many families, one of the first professionals they see is the CYSN worker, through the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The CYSN worker can play a relevant role in the child’s education. Whether it’s helping with notetaking in school meetings or brainstorming what types of programs can complement learning outside the school, the worker is an important community partner and resource.  

A CYSN Worker can help you: 

  • determine eligibility for CYSN supports and services, 
  • provide information and referral support, 
  • work with multidisciplinary care teams, 
  • plan for transitions. 

CYSN services eligibility 

The Children and Youth with Support Needs (CYSN) program is available for children 0-19 years of age who are residents of British Columbia and meet certain criteria. CYSN has been going through changes since 2021. These changes have not been completed by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. We will update this section when the new service framework is announced.  

Up to January 2024, programs and services offered for children and youth with support needs are organized by specific needs in these categories: 


b. Early Childhood Intervention Programs 

These supports and services available in the early years when parents notice their children are not meeting some of the developmental milestones and might need some assessment and early intervention.  

These services happen before a child enters the school system and can play an important role when planning the transition to Kindergarten. Most often, the people who have been working with your child at their childcare centre participate in a transition meeting with your child’s new school team.  

reference to other chapter iconFor more ideas about the transition to Kindergarten go to Chapter 6, section 4 on Planning for Kindergarten. 

reference to external resource iconResources: Early Years


c. Autism Spectrum Disorder 

Children diagnosed with Autism have access to the Autism Funding. There are several guides on how to get an assessment, access the funding, and build your support team.  

Your child’s team will play a key role in supporting your child’s transition to Kindergarten and also throughout the educational years. They can offer recommendations for your child’s IEP or strategies that can be helpful in the classroom.  

reference to external resource iconResources: Autism Spectrum Disorder 


d. Complex Health Needs 

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) includes in this group supports to assist families with children with unique and complex healthcare needs. Some are provided through MCFD while others are provided through the Ministry of Health. 

  • Brain injury 
  • At Home Program for medical benefits, respite care, and specialized services 
  • Nursing services through the Nursing Support Services program 
  • Specialized developmental assessments and rehabilitation through the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children 

If your child receives services and supports through any of these programs, they will also play a role during your child’s educational years. Their supports could be critical to ensure that your child has equitable access to their education. Some of them are included in the development of your child’s care plan for school.  

The At Home Program is designed “to support children and teens with a severe disability or complex health care needs.” This program provides funds for respite, medical supplies, and services for children who show dependency in four aspects of daily living: feeding, dressing, toileting, and washing. Children need to go through an assessment to qualify for this program. 

Once the child enters school, funding through the At Home Program (School-Aged Extended Therapies program) can help supplement the school-aged therapy provided through the district. (more here) 

Many parents and caregivers have reported difficulty accessing the program. If you believe you have been unfairly denied access to the At Home Program you can contact your local At Home Regional Contact. If this does not work, you can contact the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Client Relations Branch (1-877-387-7027) to ask about a complaint resolution process.  

reference to external resource iconResources: Complex Health Needs


e. FASD Key Worker and Parent Support Program 

Children who have confirmed or suspected Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder can access a key worker through the Key Worker and Parent Support Program. This key worker can help by: 

  • finding ways that parents, family members, caregivers, and service providers can adapt the child’s environment, 
  • giving emotional and practical support to families along with education and information tailored specifically to their needs, and 
  • referring families and parents to resources like training, support groups, or mentoring programs. 
reference to external resource iconResources: FASD Key Worker and Parent Support Program


f. Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafblind, Blind and Partially-Sighted 

The Provincial Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services can offer support for: 

  • Families with deaf and hard-of-hearing children 
  • Youth and young adults planning for their future 
  • Dorm students attending B.C. School for the Deaf 
  • Connection to community partners and family networks 
  • Family navigation and professional consultation 
  • Indigenous Deaf Collaborations 


Families of young blind or partially-sighted children (birth to school-age) are connected with these organizations for available services: 


When children are school-age, families are connected with the corresponding Provincial Outreach Program from the Ministry of Education and Child Care: 


g. Intellectual Disabilities 

An intellectual disability is diagnosed based on a person’s intellectual functioning and adaptive functioning according to the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5 Criteria). The Ministry of Children and Family Development offers respite services and other types of support services like “access to a child and youth care worker; behaviour supports; parenting skills training and support groups; counseling; household management services; and life skills activities or programs for children and youth.” 

reference to external resource iconResources: Intellectual Disabilities 


h. Child and Youth Mental Health 

The Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Child and Youth with Mental Health (CYMH) provides community-based mental health services for children, youth, and families.  

Teams located across BC can help with assessments and treatment for children and youth and their families at no cost. The Ministry also has teams who work specifically with Indigenous children and youth. 

A CYMH professional may be a psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental health clinician. These professionals are often in a child’s life for a specific period of time before the file is closed.  

Many parents and caregivers have reported difficulty accessing the program, with children being denied based on specific diagnoses.   

Waitlist times vary among different regions but can be long in some regions.  

  • reference to other chapter iconSee also: mental health resources (Chapter 10 coming soon)


4. Behaviour Consultant or Analyst

If a child needs behaviour services as part of their IEP, a Behaviour Consultant or Analyst will design and manage an intervention program or a positive behaviour support plan.

Behaviour Analysts and Consultants are responsible for assessing and evaluating students and developing a plan with teachers, caregivers, parents, and family members. These strategies help everyone support the child by first understanding their behaviour.  

Some families have a private team that includes a Behavioural Consultant or Analyst who works with their child outside of school. The more collaboration there is between home and school teams, the more consistency it creates for the child supporting their learning and growth.  

The Analyst or Consultant is often quite involved in the daily life of the student, attending IEP meetings and helping train teachers and support staff to work with the child.  


5. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapist/Support Worker/Consultant

An ABA professional uses applied behaviour analysis as a form of treatment for children, most often children with Autism. Some school districts have an ABA professional on staff who uses the method to help the classroom teacher support children with Autism. An example is the Surrey School District, you can learn about their reference to external resource icon District Behaviour Specialist -ABA Autism here. 


6. Child Care Centre and/or Supported Child Development Program or Aboriginal Supported Child Development Program

Child care workers or consultants from the Supported Child Development Program (SCDP) or the Aboriginal Supported Child Development Program (ASCDP) can be valued members of the school team, providing insight gained from years of knowing and supporting your child.  

If your child has been attending before/after school care, the care provider can work with the school to integrate goals and create a seamless transition to and from school.  



7. Family Support Worker

Many organizations that provide community living services have family support programs to help families of children with disabilities and/or additional support needs. Staff in these programs can help you navigate systems, access information and services, and plan for the future. The title of the position varies but is often called a family support worker. Support may be flexible and individualized, depending on the needs of the family.  

The service is free, and families can usually self-refer. Here are some examples: 


8. Services to Adults with Developmental Disabilities (STADD)

STADD navigators support youth with developmental disabilities and their families with transition planning to adult services. They support the youth to identify their goals and needs, develop a plan, and to connect the youth with supports from government and in the community. They can help with bringing people together to create a team and coordinate the supports and services. You can read more about reference to external resource icon STADD Navigators here. 

The youth or young adult can self-refer to access a navigator, or they can be referred by: 

  • School teacher 
  • Facilitator from Community Living BC 
  • Worker from the Ministry of Children and Family Development 
  • Worker from a Delegated Aboriginal Agency 
  • Health clinic worker 

Navigators are not available in all parts of the province. To understand the referral process and see if there are navigators in your area, you can go to the reference to external resource icon Find a Navigator site here. 

reference to other chapter iconSee also Chapter 6, section 8 for more information and resources for planning the transition from high school to adult life. 

9. Peer-to-Peer Support Networks

Connecting with other families who have similar experiences can be extremely valuable. Many formal and informal groups provide free peer-to-peer support for families supporting a loved one with a disability and/or additional support needs.  


10. Mapping out your child’s team

You might have a few or many of the partners mentioned in this chapter involved in supporting your child. This can feel overwhelming and confusing at times. It is also a network of support, services, and professionals who can be part of your child’s team to make sure they have equitable access to their education and are given the best opportunities for their future. 

It is helpful to put all the members of your team onto a map which can be useful as a visual for you, and also to show the members all the people involved and how important it is to be coordinated in efforts and actions. 


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