Letter: Underfunding for children’s needs widespread

Response to: ‘Provincial funds not adequate for four-year-old boy’s health needs,’ Nov. 30, by Barb Brouwer.

Sadly, the experience highlighted in this article is not news for our association.

Like Salmon Arm, there are many communities in B.C. that are drastically underfunded and also face continued challenges in access to timely services that meet the needs of the child and the parent.

Occupational therapists (OTs) assess children’s function in daily routines and living skills and take into account social supports and environment to ensure kids are offered an optimal opportunity to thrive. OTs work with children in the home, classroom and community, and provide recommendations for changes to these environments that will support kids like Oli to maximize their independence and social engagement.

Related: Provincial funds not adequate for four-year-old boy’s health needs

Currently, access to occupational therapy for children and families is limited, leaving families with an extra challenge of finding and funding their own services.

Without access to occupational therapy, children like OIi will transition into adulthood without having had the opportunity to learn and build critical daily living skills such as feeding, bathing and grooming, therefore relying more heavily on caregivers.

Inclusion BC’s report “Kids Can’t Wait” (2016) found there are excessive wait times for early intervention services provided by OTs. Our association calls on the Ministry of Children and Family Development to increase access OTs for B.C.’s underserved communities so that Oli and other children get the services they desperately need. The time to invest in children and their families is now.

Occupational Therapy has a focus on enabling people to engage in necessary daily activities following injury, illness, disability or other barriers; occupational therapists are a vital health-care team member. Occupational therapists help individuals overcome these challenges to maximize their participation and function in their daily activities as well as optimize their quality of life.

Sarah Charles, OT

Service Coordinator, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

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