Early-years programs for deaf and hard of hearing children in B.C. saved with one-time funding bump

British Columbia’s provincial government is making a one-time funding bump to ensure access to early-intervention programs for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

It comes after families of children with hearing impairment warned that a growing funding gap could result in kids losing access to services, and the possible closure B.C.’s only school that uses American Sign Language as its primary mode of instruction.

Early-intervention programs include sign language instruction, speech pathologists and deaf mentors, and parents say they are essential to preparing children so they can meet their peers on a level playing field when they are of school age.

The B.C. Family Hearing Resource Society, which holds the contract with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to provide early-intervention services for kids says the province has given it a one-time payment of $750,000.

The society subcontracts to the Deaf Children’s Society of B.C. and the Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of B.C.

“These funds will help cover the immediate shortfall currently facing service providers in B.C.”

The MCFD said demand for services for children who are deaf and hard of hearing has “grown significantly” in the past decade.

It says it is considering that pressure as it continues to develop a framework for children and youth with special needs.

The MCFD says the B.C. Family Hearing Resource Society will be responsible for deciding how to allocate the new funding.

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