Manitoba

Province decides to 'take a breath' on hold on child care support funding for kids with special needs

A Winnipeg child with autism will be able to start daycare this fall after all, after the province reversed a decision not to provide additional funding for a child care support program for kids with special needs.

Government to support all pending applications that meet program criteria during ongoing review

Rebecca Chambers said her family is over the moon after the province overturned a decision not to provide new childcare support funding for children with special needs. Her son Henry, who has autism, can now go to daycare. (Submitted by Rebecca Chambers)

A Winnipeg child with autism will be able to start daycare this fall after all, after the province reversed a decision not to provide additional funding for a child care support program for kids with special needs.

Earlier this month, Rebecca Chambers' family was left scrambling when they learned the province wouldn't pay for an aide to go to daycare with her 4½-year-old son, Henry, because funding for the support program had already been allocated.

But on Sunday evening, Chambers got a voicemail from a government official saying the province would, in fact, provide the extra money needed for Henry's aide.

"Elated," Chambers said. She's spent the last four weeks crunching numbers and consulting nanny agencies trying to wrangle the best child care.

Previously, the province told CBC News funding for the program had remained consistent with previous years at $12.5 million.

In an email to CBC News on Monday, a spokesperson said Families Minister Scott Fielding had discussed the issue with Premier Brian Pallister.

"We want to take a breath on this and feel it is important we listen to our citizens and support the most vulnerable Manitobans," read the statement sent by the spokesperson and attributed to Manitoba Families Minister Scott Fielding.

"Our government will support all pending applications that meet program criteria."

The spokesperson said a provincial official had tried to contact Chambers on June 21 to tell her Henry would be funded, but wasn't able to get a hold of her.

Chambers said the news means her family can function like any other family.

"It's exciting that we can just be like other families, and we can work our jobs and have care for our children and move forward," Chambers said.

Program under review

The province is conducting a review into the inclusion support program looking for ways to streamline the process and stretch dollars, and has previously said it plans to ask the federal government to do the same.

"We do see potential partnerships with the federal government to find solutions," the statement said.
 
"We look forward to meeting with the child care association later this week to discuss options."

Chambers said she posted about her family's funding in a Facebook group for parents of children with special needs.

"When I posted that there was this eruption of glee," she said.

"There's a lot of families that are still waiting for funding, there are a lot of families who have been told this is not coming, and so this gives them new hope, and hopefully new certainty that it actually is happening."

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