When we started Communication Matters, an SLP Advocacy Group for Young Children, in 2014, one of the first things we did was to decide on our Vision. Since January 14, 2015, our Vision has been, “We believe it is important for all preschool-age children in British Columbia to receive the speech-language pathology services they need.” We acknowledge that this view is shared by many other speech-language pathologists (SLPs), other professionals who work with preschoolers, as well as other members of the public at large.
This year is the first time we have encouraged people to participate in the Select Standing Committee on Finance & Government Services public consultations to advocate for young children with speech-language needs. Based on feedback from our volunteers and other interested speech-language pathologists, we want to share a specific ask so that everyone can feel comfortable answering these questions and understanding what we are truly advocating for. Therefore we have provided the following as our official ask for 2017 that you can feel free to quote, use as your own ask, or modify to use as your own ask.
Our Ask for 2017 directly relates to the Communication Matters Vision:
What are we asking for?
Communication Matters, an SLP Advocacy Group for Young Children, is asking that all children in British Columbia (BC) who need speech-language pathology (SLP) support have access to timely and effective service. This means additional SLPs immediately, and a mandate to collect more data to determine the further need.
How many SLPs are needed?
Based on our province-wide survey results and population estimates, Communication Matters has estimated that funding for at least 200 additional SLPs is needed immediately. The number of additional SLPs needed is actually higher than this, but this would be a start.
Where will the SLPs come from?
Some may be recruited back from private practice, others would come as new graduates, others may move from other provinces with the appeal of working with more manageable caseloads, others may be privately contracted similar to those contracted through At-Home or Autism funding.
How would data be collected to determine exact need?
First, ensure all publicly funded SLP programs for young children in BC are using the same records management and data collection system to track demand/need (e.g., NucleusLabs, which is already in use by several Ministry of Children & Family Development funded agencies). Then, use evidence-based practice guidelines to determine the exact need. This could be accomplished by an expert working group comprised of representatives for all stakeholders.
This is a learning process for us, and it is possible that based on the outcome of the 2017 public consultations, we may need to revise our ask for 2018. Thank you to everyone who has provided us with input, including our 2015 survey respondents, and supported this initiative. This is for you!