VICTORIA -- British Columbia's mental health and addictions minister says the province will expand services for young children, school-aged youth and their families.

Sheila Malcolmson says 60 new full-time family support workers will be added over the next three years to help deliver services for children with emotional, behavioural and developmental challenges.

She says that would give families better access to mental health care during children's formative years.

Five integrated child and youth teams currently exist, but the province is aiming to add more teams to another 15 communities by 2024, based on where need is greatest.

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says that would provide students, parents, teachers and education support staff with the services they need.

Malcolmson says school administrators, staff and parents have made it clear that the pandemic is impacting the mental health of students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

“To get help, many families and youth have had to knock on one door after another, after another, losing critical time when help is urgently needed,” she said,

The programs will receive $56 million in funding, as announced in last week's budget.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2021.