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Board trustees say autism funding, training inadequate

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Durham District School Board trustees have voiced a number of concerns with Ontario’s new autism funding model.

Over the past month, the province unveiled significant changes to the model including shifting funding from service providers to directly to families.

School boards will receive $12,300 for each autistic student entering into the system.

A letter from trustees, sent to the Premier, Minister of Education and local MPPs, states this amount “does not allow the board to provide necessary supports and specialists students require,” and the required funding is five to six times more than what the province will provide.

Concerns were also shared about caps placed on funding.

The province is planning a $140,000 lifetime cap in autism service funding, and also annual caps of $20,000 per year for children under six years of age and $5,000 for children under six.

“Based on this cap, and the cost of services, most families will not be able to afford the therapy and early treatment programs that are critical and effective to their child’s success,” the trustees’ letter reads.

Trustees also warned providing one day of training to support students with autism is inadequate.

“It is unfair to expect teachers and all staff to be able to teach a full class of students and provide the specialized complex programming that students with autism need,” trustees wrote. “This puts staff in a very difficult position and they cannot meet the needs of all students.”

Trustees called on families to contact their MPPs and the Ministry of Education to share their concerns.

“Families and school boards need to be provided with the true cost to support students with autism spectrum disorder and all students with special needs.”