Special needs changes not enough: CACL

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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AMHERST  Changes to the provinces special needs program are going to do little to stop young people from falling through the cracks, says the president of the Amherst branch of the Canadian Association for Community Living.

AMHERST  Changes to the provinces special needs program are going to do little to stop young people from falling through the cracks, says the president of the Amherst branch of the Canadian Association for Community Living.

Its not good. I havent read the whole report but education as a whole has gotten hit and this does nothing to add anything to the system, Evelyn Bradford said.

The Ministers Review of Services for Students with Special Needs was released to Education Minister Karen Casey on Wednesday and includes a series of recommendations, including: reaffirming the departments support for inclusive education, appointing a provincial learning disabilities consultant by fall 2008, doing a board by board audit of the role and responsibilities of teacher assistants and ending the tuition support program by 2010.

For Bradford, whose special needs son graduated from Amherst Regional High School in June, theres very little in the report that will help with the transition of students to the community, meaning the job is being left up to parents, some of whom dont have the resources or the ability to go out and find work for their children.

Theres a real need with transitioning kids from the school to the community and this report, from what Ive seen of it, does none of that, Bradford said. If theyre cutting, which appears theyre doing, theyre taking something thats not very good and making it even worse. Instead of being progressive, Bradford feels the recommendations do little more than offer special needs students the bare minimum. She feels maintaining the status quo is simply not adequate. Kids are already falling through the cracks and thats just going to continue, she said. Theres very little in the community for kids when they finish school. The education system had a responsibility to help with transitioning and theres not nearly enough money allocated to doing that. She said transitioning is very important but very inconsistent across the province and while there are good programs in the Metro area theres very little in place in rural areas such as Cumberland County. Unfortunately whats happening is many of these kids are left sitting at home with nothing to do and thats an unhealthy lifestyle, she said. dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Canadian Association for Community Living, Services for Students, Amherst Regional High School

Geographic location: AMHERST, Cumberland County

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