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(Canada) Ontario: 60K kids on waitlist for autism core services

Apr 6, 2023, Toronto City News: Legacy funding ending for thousands of children with autism

VIDEO: The Ontario Autism Coalition sounding the alarm here at Queen’s Park today. They say about 4,000 children with autism are going to have their funding reduced, and as a result, will be moved into the school system.

They fear the schools won’t be ready for them.

Parent: IF they are put into a regular stream classroom, I don’t know if they’ll have the support

My biggest fear for my girls is the safety, being flight risks and having no fear.

Reporter: Michelle MacAdam has two daughters with autism. They are among the lucky few thousand children who have been in the Legacy Program. That means they receive full funding for therapy based on need.

But the Ford government just ended that program, and Legacy funding will now be capped. Michelle’s daughters will receive the same as other children who are enrolled in core services, which is a fraction of what they had before.

Parents like Michelle and Kate don’t object to sending their children to school, they just fear the schools won’t have enough education assistance to help them.

Parent: Zero transition plan has been made for these kids, and in fact, school boards have not even been informed that these kids are coming. Nor have they been given any additional funding to ensure that these children have adequate supports in place.

We have great concern that schools are not going to be able to handle the sudden influx of kids with high needs that are coming.

Parent: They’re being thrown to the wolves essentially.

Reporter: The education minister’s office maintains they have been planning for the Legacy children and have increased special ed funding to accommodate them. …

NDP Leader: An education system that is being squeezed so hard already. We have staff that are leaving our schools they can’t keep up, they’re exhausted. They feel disrespected by this government. And now we have an additional pressure coming into those classrooms. Reporter: Michelle’s daughters are non-verbal. They require help to eat, get dressed and for all of their other needs.

Parent: The stress that this has added to my life is tremendous, but there’s still so many unknowns.

Reporter: Now a spokesperson for the Toronto district school board tells me they’re not aware of the government giving them the heads up that more children with autism could be entering the schools, nor are they aware of any extra funding to deal with this.

The Ford government has struggled with the autism file since 2018, when it was elected.

The number of children waiting for core services has almost doubled or more than doubled, to 60,000, and there are now four different ministers that have in charge of the file.

It’s no wonder parents have difficulty trusting that the Ford government is going to get this right.


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