Speech-Language Services for Young Children in BC: Key Messages

Current Situation in British Columbia

British Columbia (BC) has the second lowest number of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) per 100,000 people in Canada.
Source: Speech-Language and Audiology Canada. (n.d.). Speech-language pathologists and audiologists per 100,000 people in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.sac-oac.ca/sites/default/files/resources/Stats%20Map%20Canada_EN.pdf.

“More than 85% of [BC preschool] SLPs reported caseloads that exceed the recommended caseload size of between 25 and 40 children (per: Therapy BC)… The most commonly reported caseload size was 60-80 children with some caseloads exceeding 160 children (when scaled for 1.0 Full Time Equivalent (FTE)).”
Source: Communication Matters, Speech-Language Pathology Service Provision for Young Children in British Columbia Survey Results, December 2015.

“Only 5% of [BC preschool] SLPs said they were able to provide a level of service they would recommend to the majority of their caseload.”
Source: Communication Matters, Speech-Language Pathology Service Provision for Young Children in British Columbia Survey Results, December 2015.

“85% of [BC preschool] SLPs reported some sort of waitlist to access SLP services. This area requires further investigation.”
Source: Communication Matters, Speech-Language Pathology Service Provision for Young Children in British Columbia Survey Results, December 2015.

“…wait times for supports and services are impacting the ability for families to receive the assistance from Government programs that will support them through this critical period in their children’s lives. The majority of survey respondents, approximately 64%, had to wait more than 3 months to access a program/service. 20% of respondents waited more than 6 months and 10% more than one year. The wait times for speech-language pathology and for respite services are particularly lengthy, with many families waiting more than 2 years for these services. In some cases, families never received the service they were referred for due to the excessive wait. Many families ended up paying to access services in the private sector.”
Source: Family Support Institute of BC. (2016). Parent Feedback Project Results. Retrieved from http://familysupportbc.com/wp-content/uploads/Parent-Feedback-Project-Report.pdf.

At least 9.4% of kindergarten students in BC demonstrated vulnerability for language and cognitive development (i.e., interest in books, reading, language skills, literacy and math-related activities).
Source: Human Early Learning Partnership. EDI [Early Years Development Instrument] British Columbia Provincial Report, 2016. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia, School of Population and Public Health; October 2016.

At least 14.2% of BC kindergarten students are vulnerable in the area of communication skills and general knowledge (i.e., ability to clearly communicate one’s own needs, participate in story-telling, and general interest in the world).
Source: Human Early Learning Partnership. EDI [Early Years Development Instrument] British Columbia Provincial Report, 2016. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia, School of Population and Public Health; October 2016.

Investing Early Helps Children Beginning in the School Years

“The ability to communicate through speech and language is fundamental to a child’s literacy development. Children are more likely to benefit from treatment when communication disorders are identified early on.”
Source: Speech-Language and Audiology Canada. (n.d.). Language and literacy skills are just the beginning. Retrieved from http://www.sac-oac.ca/sites/default/files/resources/literacy_poster_letter_en.pdf?_ga=2.226671384.469567464.1506657399-888862476.1505835416.

“Children with language impairments are 4 to 5 times more likely to have reading difficulties while in school.”
Source: Speech-Language and Audiology Canada. (n.d.). Language and Literacy Skills, Speech-language pathologists can help. Retrieved from http://www.sac-oac.ca/sites/default/files/resources/literacy_info_sheet_en.pdf?_ga=2.233534235.469567464.1506657399-888862476.1505835416.

“Up to 30% of children with speech disorders also have a reading disability.”
Source: Speech-Language and Audiology Canada. (n.d.). Language and Literacy Skills, Speech-language pathologists can help. Retrieved from http://www.sac-oac.ca/sites/default/files/resources/literacy_info_sheet_en.pdf?_ga=2.233534235.469567464.1506657399-888862476.1505835416.

“Recent research indicates that reading difficulties are primarily language-based.”
Source: Speech-Language and Audiology Canada. (n.d.). Language and Literacy Skills, Speech-language pathologists can help. Retrieved from http://www.sac-oac.ca/sites/default/files/resources/literacy_info_sheet_en.pdf?_ga=2.233534235.469567464.1506657399-888862476.1505835416.

A UK study found that approximately 36% of 11-year-olds with specific language impairment (SLI) were at risk of being bullied.
Source: Knox E and Conti-Ramsden G (2003) Bullying risks of 11-year-old children with specific language impairment (SLI): Does school placement matter? International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 38: 1–12.

“Early experiences and the environments in which children develop in their earliest years can have lasting impact on later success in school and life. Barriers to children’s educational achievement start early, and continue to grow without intervention.”
Source: Center on the Developing Child (2009). Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development (Brief). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

Investing Early Will Help in the Long Run

Every $1 spent on early childhood health and development saves up to $9 in future health, social and justice services.
Source: Canadian Public Health Association (2013, June 18) Public Health: a Return on Investment [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVZxtuZhN_M.

“Providing young children with a healthy environment in which to learn and grow is not only good for their development—economists have also shown that high-quality early childhood programs bring impressive returns on investment to the public. Three of the most rigorous long-term studies found a range of returns between $4 and $9 for every dollar invested in early learning programs for low-income children. Program participants followed into adulthood benefited from increased earnings while the public saw returns in the form of reduced special education, welfare, and crime costs, and increased tax revenues from program participants later in life.”
Source: Center on the Developing Child (2009). Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development (Brief). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

In Canada, boys with language impairment have higher rates of arrests and convictions than boys who do not.
Source: Brownlie E.B., Beitchman J.H., Escobar M., Young, A., Atkinson, L., Johnson, C., Wilson, B., and Lori, D. (2004) Early language impairment and young adult delinquent and aggressive behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 32, 453–67.

A Canadian study found that young adults (between the ages of 18 and 24 years old) who had a history of language impairment had one of the highest rates of psychiatric disorders in the community: 37%
Source: Beitchman, J.H., Wilson, B., Johnson, C.J., Atkinson, L., Young, A., Adlaf, E., Escobar, M., and Douglas, L. (2000). Fourteen-Year Follow-up of Speech/Language-Impaired and Control Children: Psychiatric Outcome. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 75-82.

Children’s Rights

Article 23 You have the right to special education and care if you have a disability, as well as all the rights in this Convention, so that you can live a full life.
Source: United Nations (n.d.). Convention on the Rights of the Child In Child Friendly Language. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/rightsite/files/uncrcchilldfriendlylanguage.pdf.

Article 24 You have the right to the best health-care possible, safe water to drink, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, and information to help you stay well.
Source: United Nations (n.d.). Convention on the Rights of the Child In Child Friendly Language. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/rightsite/files/uncrcchilldfriendlylanguage.pdf.

Article 28 You have the right to a good quality education. You should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level you can.
Source: United Nations (n.d.). Convention on the Rights of the Child In Child Friendly Language. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/rightsite/files/uncrcchilldfriendlylanguage.pdf.

#CommunicationMattersBC

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Edited on October 11, 2017 to include additional information.
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Author: Communication Matters

An SLP Advocacy Group for Young Children #CommunicationMattersBC