New “Emergency Fund for Children with Special Needs” in BC – COVID-19

April 8, 2020: Ministry of Child and Family Development

New Emergency Fund for Children with Special Needs: $225/month

Emergency Funding: $225 per Month
The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) is establishing an Emergency Relief Support Fund for children and youth with special needs and their families. The fund will provide a direct payment of $225 per month to eligible families over the next three months (to June 30, 2020).

How to Apply: Contact your CYSN Worker
Families are encouraged to reach out to their Children and Youth with Special Needs (CYSN) worker to see if they can benefit from this emergency help during the COVID-19. Using a needs-based approach, the emergency funding will support families that are currently awaiting services. This payment can be used to purchase supports that help alleviate stress. These could include:

  • meal preparation and grocery shopping assistance;
  • homemaking services;
  • caregiver relief support (e.g., funded support to allow a family member to provide temporary care for a child or youth);
  • counselling services, online or by phone; and
  • other services that support family functioning.

Flexible Guidelines: Emergency Access
Policy guidelines for many Children and Youth with Special Needs services will be more flexible to ensure families continue to benefit from other funding and supports, even as access to many in-person school and community-based services remain limited:

  • Families with children in care on a special needs agreement or a voluntary care agreement will not have to make monthly maintenance payments for the duration of the pandemic period. This will provide temporary relief to parents who may be struggling with income or housing insecurity related to the pandemic.
  • Supported Child Development and Aboriginal Supported Child Development programs will be able to extend extra staffing during school hours to help with the reduced availability of school-based services. Children of parents who are essential service providers and need extra staffing supports for their child will continue to receive those throughout the pandemic period.
  • Eligibility and access to At Home Program medical benefits will be relaxed, and any families receiving benefits will continue to do so without the need for a reassessment during the pandemic period.
  • Parameters on services purchased with Autism Funding will be expanded, allowing families to use up to 35% of funding to purchase equipment and items that assist in home learning and virtual instructional approaches.
  • Families may direct their child’s Autism Funding to access family counselling and therapy services with a qualified provider for all age categories accessing the Autism Funding program.

The ministry recognizes that each child and family faces unique circumstances and has unique needs. Families are encouraged to reach out to their CYSN worker to see if they can benefit.

See more: Province provides emergency fund for children with special needs


COVID-19 News and Links

Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)

  • Strengthening Families – Federal COVID-related Benefits & People with a Disability
    CACL highlights some of the benefits that are already available to people with a disability and some of the ideas we’re working on to make federal programs more responsive to the needs of people with an intellectual disability and their families.
  • COVID-19 Triage Protocols & the Rights of People with Disabilities:
    An open letter to Prime Minster Trudeau — As COVID-19 spreads across our communities, medical resources are being overwhelmed. Consequently, healthcare providers are preparing to implement triage systems to prioritize the provision of care. In fact, we are already seeing such triage systems being implemented in some jurisdictions. Decisions are being made about who will get access, who will live, and who is likely going to die.

Human Rights Statement – Canadian Down Syndrome Society

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Province of British Columbia

Government of Canada:

  • Emergency preparedness guide for people with disabilities/special needs:
    Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility. All Canadians are encouraged to be prepared to cope for at least the first 72 hours of an emergency, while emergency workers focus on those in urgent need. This guide provides information on preparing an emergency plan and kit for people with disabilities / special needs and for caregivers.

Ontario COVID Response 


Canadian Government: CERB

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

What is is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit? 
If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

Apply Now: If you have lost employment or self-employment income due to COVID-19 (Note: You do NOT need to apply if you are already receiving EI Benefits.)

Find out more: