Funding for autism supports in schools falls woefully short

Marit Stiles, Ontario NDP Education critic, said the Ford Conservatives’ announcement falls woefully short of what will be needed as cuts to autism services send an influx of kids with high needs into the school system on April 1.

 

Educators and parents have been raising concerns about a lack of resources in schools with increasing urgency since the Ford Conservatives announced cuts to autism services last month. Today, following weeks of pressure, the Ford Conservatives extended the deadline for per-student funding for children with autism entering the school system for the first time April 1.

 

“Today’s announcement does little to reassure educators and parents who are worried about how our under-resourced school system will support the influx of kids with high needs who will be spending more time in the classroom starting in April,” said Stiles. “Lots of classrooms are already struggling with big class sizes and diverse student needs. Teachers and support workers are already run off their feet. This moderate change to how funding is accessed in not unwelcome — but it’s cold comfort to students, teachers, support workers and parents.

 

“It’s callous for the Ford Conservatives to allocate so little money toward supporting kids with high needs who will soon be transitioning into the school system,” said Stiles. “This decision comes amid other cuts, and all kids will be hurt as everyone gets less attention in the classroom and children with autism get less support than they need.”

 

Last week, hundreds of parents gathered at Queen’s Park to protest changes to the Ontario Autism Program that will rip services away from kids with high needs and give everyone else less. The NDP has raised the experiences and fears of family after family at Queen’s Park — but Ford has refused to reverse the cut.

 

“Every child should have an opportunity to go to school, and children with autism deserve to be properly supported inside the classroom, and out, so that they’re able to do that,” said Monique Taylor, Ontario NDP critic for Children and Youth Services. “The Ontario NDP will keep up the fight to give back to families with children with autism the services and supports their kids need to reach their fullest potential.”

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