The Ministry of Social Development has increased and fast-tracked the school start-up supplement for British Columbia’s income assistance and disability assistance recipients.
The supplement is provided to assist with extra costs associated with a dependent child’s schooling, such as school fees and supplies. Families on assistance will now receive $100 for every child five-11 years (from $84) and $175 for each child 12 years and over (from $116).
School District #27 vice-chair Pattie Baker says she feels the province’s support for students and families stems in part from the local community working together.
“We have a really large base of people who are committed to our children here in this community, and I think this is reflective of that, even though it is provincial.
“I know [Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett] has played a large part in recognizing the needs of the community.”
The ministry has also added hardship (temporary) assistance recipients with children in school to the list of those who can receive the back-to-school money.
Baker adds it’s also the collective voice of the community that has made a significant difference in some opinions about local needs.
“We’re recognizing that we do have children in poverty, and as we speak out against this, I think resources are being directed that way. I think our government is listening to us.”
Payments will also be issued earlier this year and were attached to the regular assistance cheque at the end of July.
With the expanded benefits for hardship assistance, the supplement will benefit approximately 23,000 children this school year, which Baker says is “wonderful.”
The school board vice-chair offers some advice to local residents in order to keep key funding flowing: “Please be vocal about our needs here in this area.”