Mothers of disabled twins call British Columbia’s childcare system “the opposite of inclusiveness”

Michelle Martin takes care of her three-year-old twin boys Axel and Jaxon every day.

They all suffer from cerebral palsy and Jaxon is also blind, which means it is difficult to get childcare services. This British Columbian mother found multiple daycare sites in Langley, but due to the boy’s disability, they cannot go to school unless they get support staff through the province’s child development support program.

The twins have been on the waiting list for support staff for more than two years.

As there was no childcare service, Martin left her company to work after the maternity leave ended. But the family needs a double income to help pay for the children’s needs, so she opened two small businesses to make ends meet. Now, 7 days a week, after sleeping the children, she works as a copywriter and marketing consultant. All day long.

Martin said she hopes that Axel and Jaxon will have the opportunity to play with other children and learn new things.

“They say you are on the waiting list and have no other choice. This actually means the opposite of inclusive childcare, because they are excluded because of their disability,” Martin told CBC News.

Martin is a freelance marketing consultant and copywriter, and also owns a screen printing shop she runs at home. (Sean Foss/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News)

Advocacy organization Inclusion BC estimates that thousands of children with disabilities are waiting to receive support through the province’s program.

Karla Verschoor, executive director of Inclusion BC, said: “I do believe that it is very unfair for us to ask families to wait for basic community services (such as childcare).”

There is also no standardized waiting time in the province, because the waiting list is attached to a specific child development center. Verschoor said this means that in northern British Columbia, support personnel may be found immediately, but in the Lower Mainland, it may be much more difficult to find people.

The province says it supports more families

According to the Ministry of Children and Family Development, supported child development programs provide counseling and support services for families and childcare centers to enable children with disabilities to participate in day care.

The ministry stated that it will support another 2,000 families to participate in the plan based on the 2021 budget.

The ministry also stated that the program does not have a provincial waitlist because each contracted agency that provides a supported child development program manages its own enrollment.

But as Martin continued to defend her twins, she worried that she would face more years of unhelpful situations.

“I can’t do this anymore…I need them to take care of the children,” she said.

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