Children and Youth with Special Needs

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) funds a range of programs and services for children and youth with special needs and their families. Services and supports are intended to promote children’s healthy development, maximize quality of life, assist families in their role as primary caregivers and support full participation in community life.

MCFD works in partnership with the Ministries of Health and Education, and regional and community agencies throughout the province, to plan and coordinate services. Our goal is to deliver accessible high-quality intervention and support services for children and youth with special needs and their families through an integrated service delivery approach.

A Child with Special Needs

The term children and youth with special needs refers to those children and youth up to 19 years of age who require significant additional educational, medical/health and social/environmental support — beyond that required by children in general — to enhance or improve their health, development, learning, quality of life, participation and community inclusion.

When a child is diagnosed

When a child is diagnosed with a disability, or identified as at risk for developmental delay, parents and other family members are understandably anxious. You may want to begin by identifying available programs and services based on the individual circumstances and needs of your children and family. Information on intervention and support services is available on this website. Some of these services are administered centrally and others are delivered at a regional level. In addition to this, other parents can often provide practical information and emotional support. See the CYSN Links page for contact information on community resources.

Who Does What?

Depending on the needs of your child, your family may require the services of one or more special needs professionals. Click here to see who does what.

Photo of mother and child


For an overview of CYSN services, please read the

Community Engagement Workshops

Do you have a child with developmental disabilities who will soon be an adult? If so, the BC government wants to hear from you. See the Transition Planning web page.

Related MCFD Sections