FSCD Survey: Preserve the Integrity of the Program by Ensuring your Voice is Heard
The Alberta Government has posted an online survey on FSCD (Family Support for Children with Disabilities) that is open until February 1. It is very short and will only take a few minutes to complete but the responses have the potential to change FSCD for the worse. You do not need to be a parent currently using FSCD to complete the survey and given the risks the survey presents we would encourage everyone with an interest in ensuring FSCD maintains and improves its commitment to each and every family complete the survey.
Since its inception over 40 years ago, FSCD has been a family support program available to any family with a child with disabilities. It is, in effect, a universal program as it should be and must remain. However, the program has become more difficult to access and waiting lists are growing.
Needed changes must ensure FSCD:
- is responsive to parents
- treats families with respect
- readily provides needed supports
- is a family-friendly way of acquiring supports
- is transparent
- operates on sufficiently allocated government funds
If the government of the day can choose to lower business taxes and risk billions more on pipelines that might not get built, it can certainly choose to allocate adequate resources to support Alberta families who have children with disabilities. FSCD’s challenges are fundamentally choices the government is making as to who and what it values and who and what it does not – in this case children with disabilities and the supports Alberta families require. Parents should never be forced to plead for supports or present their children in the most negative way possible to have get needed supports.
This survey threatens the integrity of the FSCD program by its choice and presentation of the questions you’ll see below. The questions below are framed as “… looking at ways to make FSCD operate more effectively and efficiently…” yet the questions do not address either objective. Effectiveness should be measured in terms of whether families are receiving the supports they require to sustain families and advance their children’s inclusion. Efficient would mean FSCD becomes easier for families to access and a quick turnaround from when requests are made to when funding and supports are approved.
Using ‘improving effectiveness and efficiency’ in the context of ‘current resources’ is effectively asking families to agree to limiting the number of families who would be eligible for FSCD and reducing supports due to inadequate resources.
Our position on the 7 questions above for your consideration:
1. Strongly agree.
2. Strongly disagree. Agreeing would:
- dramatically alter the nature of FSCD and supports and funding would no longer be distributed on the basis of every family being equally and equitably entitled to supports on the basis of need.
- mean some families will never get support or never get adequate support.
- pit family against family. Families would have to compete on the basis of arguing their needs are greater than another family. FSCD would need to develop some means of making this determination as to which families are deserving relative to another family. There would be no control over how FSCD would make decisions as to who gets supports and which family is left without.
- provide permission to government to limit the funding it ought to provide to families.
3. Strongly disagree. Same issues as noted above in question #2.
4. Strongly agree. Families know their children best. Strongly agreeing could move FSCD to listen better and more respectfully to families.
5. Strongly disagree. Same points as identified in question #2. Further, it fails to recognize the many additional expenses families experience when they have a child with disabilities – a fact well supported by research. This would potentially allow FSCD to gradually narrow the number families eligible for support based on income by lowering income threshold’s and requiring families to pay increasing amounts. Similar to question #2, this question fails to consider the increased costs to Alberta when families are denied or limited in terms of needed supports – family breakdown, more children in child welfare and increased family financial stress. FSCD’s data shows that very few wealthy families’ access FSCD which means Alberta families are not utilizing FSCD when they don’t have to.
6. Somewhat or Strongly disagree. The survey provides no information on what services would be changed or eliminated. The question lacks the necessary transparency and information relative to what services would be changed or how they would be changed in order to provide an informed response.
7. Strongly disagree. FSCD already has a process to engage experts for recommendations for specialized services when necessary. Decisions as to what services are needed and to what degree must never be based on costs but solely on what the child and family requires consistent with FSCD legislation. What may be considered a more costly service is not identified and there is nothing to prevent the addition of more services being added to the list of what is considered costly.
You should be aware the survey also has a section where you can add your own suggestions for improving FSCD. Please use the space to add your ideas.