Ontario pours $200 million more into autism care in response to parents’ anger

Posted on June 28, 2016 in Child & Family Delivery System

TheStar.com – News/Canada – ‘Regardless of age, every child will get the services,’ new Children and Youth Services Minister Michael Coteau said, after protested that some children were being left behind.
June 28, 2016.   By ROB FERGUSON, Queen’s Park Bureau

Children of all ages will get treatment for autism as the Ontario government makes changes, worth $200 million over four years, to a controversial revamp of the program that infuriated parents.

“The supports that were put in place were not adequate,” new Children and Youth Services Minister Michael Coteau acknowledged Tuesday, just two weeks after taking over the portfolio in a cabinet shuffle.

“Regardless of age, every child will get the services,” he told reporters. “We’ve made some changes. We’ve invested some more money in resources.”

Coteau, who replaced Tracy MacCharles in the post, said the changes were made “after listening closely to families,” which had protested vocally several times at the legislature with concerns that some children were being left behind.

The previous program rolled out earlier this year to start in 2018 stopped funding for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) for kids 5 and older, and moved them to a treatment called “enhanced Applied Behavioural Analysis” or ABA.

It will be moved ahead one year to June, 2017.

Delaying that change to 2018 prompted parents and critics to say “autism does not end at 5” and left them furious, because some had spent years on waiting lists for the IBI treatment only to be kicked off.

Families of the 835 children affected by that move were given $8,000 to pay for private treatment, but complained that the money would not be nearly enough, as it would only cover the costs of a few months of care.

Under the new measures, children with autism will get treatment involving “the level of intensity they require,” Coteau said, and payouts will be boosted to “successive payments” of $10,000, so kids get the care they need.

That will “support even the most intensive level of therapy for roughly 10 weeks” for families and provide “continuous funding until their child is able to enter the new program.”

“In other words, there will be no gaps in service,” Coteau said.

Parents of children with autism will get an information package in the mail in two weeks and can call a toll-free number at 1-888-284-8340 for help.

Another 45 “family support coordinators” will be hired to offer one-on-one support to help about 3,600 families whose children are transitioning to the IBI waitlist.

Coteau said the Ministry of Education will “strengthen in-school supports” for children with autism.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown tweeted that he is “pleased” that Coteau “listened to what we’ve been saying all along, that autism doesn’t end at 5.”

The changes are “a victory for families” and proof that speaking up and protesting can pay dividends, said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

“Parents and children across Ontario living with autism stood up to fight for the services they need,” she said. “While this is an important win, there is more work to do so that Ontarians with autism can succeed throughout their lives.”

She called for more special needs supports in schools and help for people with autism into adulthood.

< https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/06/28/ontario-pours-200-million-more-into-autism-care-in-response-to-parents-anger.html >

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One Response to “Ontario pours $200 million more into autism care in response to parents’ anger”

  1. Dixie O says:

    While I applaud the advocacy of the parents in this story, I am troubled on two fronts. First, the funding increase applies to children who are experiencing the most severe of challenges and that funding is for IBI. Second, do we want to design policies that exclude the voices of autistic adults? With respect to the former, policy makers are determining who should receive service based on the severity of their symptoms. Those who do not qualify for such funding languish on wait-lists and are subject to almost insurmountable paperwork to obtain supports and ultimately fall through the cracks. As for the latter, autistic adults are not well represented in existing policies or research, nor do they sit on any advisory committees. This type of involvement is crucial for policy to be effective, so when will the voices of autistic adults be heard?


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