(Canada) Cambridge, Ont: Program for students with serious behavioural and mental health problems

Aug 22, 2017, Cambridge Times, Cambridge, Ont., Canada: Children with complex issues need complex assessments in order to get treatment Special assessments of children with mental health issues helped 25 children last year in the Encompass Learning Program, but more funding is needed in order to help more children.... “We’ve been running intensive treatment programs for children with complex mental health issues and significant trauma for many years … but more and more over the years we saw children coming to us with puzzle pieces missing,” Barraball said. Some were experiencing serious, reoccurring problems associated with learning disabilities and mental health issues…. The pilot program funded by the Ontario Trillium foundation was based in St. Agatha and brought in professionals including psychologists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists. … Breathwaite said there is now more knowledge about autism spectrum and sensory issues, as well as speech and language development. The professionals they brought in to assess the children were able to help in those areas. The Encompass Learning Program in St. Agatha is for children with serious behavioural and mental health problems who go there for a year instead of their regular school. They're brought by taxi from all over the region and return home for evenings and weekends. Carizon provides family support, like counselling, at home as well. … Carizon's goal is to get children back into their regular schools and regular lives, happily and comfortably. ... Although the pilot program achieved short-term outcomes and taught them a lot, Barraball said assessments need to be made much earlier in children’s lives, before they come to the school. If they are experiencing issues, children should be seen by a number of different professionals. “Very often our children are facing an array of learning disabilities, mental health diagnoses, family related challenges, a history of trauma … their worlds are complicated,” she said. They hope to be able to provide more assessments in the future for the children enrolled in their program, and make changes to accommodate the costs necessary if they can't find more funding.