Vancouver family frustrated with province over care for autistic teen
The parents of a teen diagnosed with severe autism are frustrated the B.C. government has denied their request to place their son in a preferred residential treatment program.
Peter Sklavenitis’ family is seeking to have the 17-year-old receive full-time care at Glen Eden Multimodal Centre in Vancouver.
Peter has been receiving educational support at Glen Eden for 12 years but aggression problems have kept him at home for the past year.
Peter’s parents spoke out publicly at a news conference with New Democrat MLA Jenny Kwan in Vancouver today (April 12).
They have been pleading with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to sign a contract with Glen Eden to place Peter in the $15,000-a-month program.
His family believes he needs the kind of care and stable environment offered at Glen Eden, an opinion supported by Peter’s psychiatrist.
“We constantly feel like we’ve been in limbo for the last over a year,” said Peter’s mother Angela Sklavenitis, while sitting beside her son at the news conference.
“You start to get very, very scared as to what is going to happen. You think, ‘Is there a hope for this child? Will he have any better quality of life?’”
She criticized an offer from the ministry to place Peter in an alternate residential program that does not provide educational support.
“His school and his residential program would be different and they are not people that Peter knows,” she said, also noting Peter has difficulty with travel.
Angela Sklavenitis said she trusts the Glen Eden staff members and commended the quality of their care.
“He was been with these people for 12 years. They are his family,” she said.
Mary McNeil, the minister of Children and Family Development, responded to the family’s complaint in a statement today.
“Any time we look at developing a plan of care for a child our goal is to ensure service providers are able to provide the supports and care a child needs,” McNeil said.
“At this time, we do not believe this facility is the appropriate placement for this child and have shared our reasons with the family.”
“In order to ensure the child’s needs are met, we have increased in-home supports while we continue to work closely with the family to identify appropriate alternatives that meet the family’s needs."
Peter’s family hopes he will one day be able to live semi-independently and be an active member of his community. They see treatment at Glen Eden as a step toward that goal.
Kwan, a Vancouver MLA, expressed support for the Sklavenitis family and praised them for sharing their story.
“We’re asking the government to do what is right for the family and to support this family to access the program that they need so that Peter can have optimal success in his life,” Kwan said.
She said ministry staff has met with the parents but not with Peter.
“How do they know what is in Peter’s best interest when they haven’t even met him? And so you have a huge disconnect in how the government is making these decisions.”
MLA Jenny Kwan speaks at a news conference with the Sklavenitis family.