Families of children with autism are looking for answers from the McNeil Liberals after recent cuts to the Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention program for children as young as two. Without a solution, parents fear their children could be forced into school when they aren’t ready.
“Children whose programs were cut short due to COVID-19 should have the opportunity to complete the remaining months of their program before entering the school system,” says Halman.
Concerned parents have recently contacted local officials and the media to call attention to these cuts. They’re concerned that children with autism will not be able to complete the rest of the Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention program if they are scheduled to start school this fall.
The EIBI program exists to aid in the development of the children's communication, play and other functional skills in preschool.
In the PC’s Ready For What’s Next plan for education, which was sent to Premier McNeil, PC Leader Tim Houston called for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to convene a panel of parents with diverse needs children to determine what can be done to provide them with the most effective education.
“We need to see some leadership,” says Progressive Conservative MLA Tim Halman. “The government currently has no plan for children with diverse needs for September.”
Because children are legally required to start school in the year they turn six, it appears that two-thirds of the children benefiting from this program will not be able to continue the program this fall. Some parents fear that this will result in their child not being prepared to function in the classroom.
“The COVID-19 disruptions are not the fault of the students,” says Halman. “I urge the government to work with parents and students to ensure that children are not left behind or put at a disadvantage this fall as a result of this pandemic.”
The government recently began charging students for the Credit Recovery program and the DELF French assessment, which were rescheduled for the summer due to COVID-19. These programs were previously run at no cost to students.