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Concerns raised over eligibility for autism individualized funding benefit
Published Thursday, March 21, 2019 3:38PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, March 21, 2019 6:55PM CST
The Saskatchewan government delivered their 2019-20 provincial budget on Wednesday and it’s giving more support for families who have children under the age of six with autism.
The province increased the autism individualized funding benefit by $700,000. This new funding will increase family’s benefit from $4,000 to $6,000. Families who have a child under the age of six who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder qualify for this benefit.
“Families that are getting their child diagnosed on the spectrum in Saskatchewan it is actually very rare that they get diagnosed under the age of six,” said Katie Emde, has a child with autism. “It’s making it really tricky for them to access that funding since it’s under the age of six.”
The provincial government said this funding announcement was an election promise for the Saskatchewan Party.
“There are some services provided for school age children in the education system but there wasn’t for pre-school so this was to deal with pre-school children,” said Jim Reiter, Minister of Health. “When you look at the services we provide, I think in health care the budget this year, with the increase we just announced for autism services is going to be around $12 million dollars. The individualized funding is going to cost around $3.5 million dollars, the balance of that funding about $8.5 million dollars is autism supports for all ages its right across the board.”
The government is also giving an additional $200,000 split between the Autism Resources center in Regina and the Autism Services of Saskatoon to each hire a mental health professional who specializes in autism treatment.
“It is the starting point and I think that's what's so exciting,” said Lynn Latta, Executive Direction, Autism Services of Saskatoon. “Would anyone say that’s enough and it will meet all the needs absolutely not. But it's a starting point and it does put is there in the field as mental health services are being looked at and added to in our province.”