The Ontario government missed its goal of funding 8,000 children to receive core autism treatment by the end of the fall, though the amount was not disclosed.
A spokesman for the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services said the state’s goal had indeed been achieved, but it was a different goal from what the government had publicly been working towards for a long time.
In 2019, the Progressive Conservative government set out to revamp Ontario’s autism program. After the first trial of the new program earlier that year, there was a great outcry and condemnation that few children were getting the level of care they needed.
Despite delays in rolling out new programs, the government this year committed to “funding core clinical services for 8,000 children by the fall of 2022,” as worded on its website and press release. I was working towards
A spokesperson for Minister Mary Fullerton said in a statement: “We can confirm that we have reached our goal of enrolling 8,000 children and adolescents in core clinical services.
However, registering is a separate step from getting the service funded.
Once the family is enrolled in Core Services, the child will be scheduled for a Needs Determination Interview. During that meeting, the funding level will be calculated based on several different factors, and the family will receive it shortly thereafter.
The government did not respond to follow-up questions
But people in the autism community say these interviews are scheduled months in advance, and there is a gap between the number of children “enrolled” in core therapy and the number of children who actually receive funding. I believe there is a significant gap between
Angela Brandt, President of the Ontario Autism Coalition, said in an interview, “I don’t believe there are actually 8,000 children receiving treatment under the Core Services program.
Fullerton spokesperson Patrick Bisset did not respond to follow-up inquiries about the number of families being funded for core services.
Since the Canadian Press reported in August that enrollment in the new program was off to a slow start, the government refused to update the number, with 888 children receiving core treatment at the time.
Bisset said earlier this month that 16,575 invitations to major services had been issued, making significant progress, but declined to say how many people had actually been registered.
Families on the “Brink of Financial Collapse”
Tom Wadden, a father of two 7-year-old boys with autism, said he received an invitation to core services in early November and is scheduled for an interview in late March to determine his needs. rice field.
He eventually moved it up to January thanks to a waiting list, but his sons are on the waiting list for services by the time they can get government-funded treatment. During that time he’s been paying out of pocket for them to get treatment, still providing the least amount of funding possible while still seeing progress.
“This situation over the past five years isn’t just us. It’s brought us to the brink of financial ruin,” Wadden said by phone from his home in Stony Creek, Ontario.
The Waddens had exhausted all their savings and inheritance from their grandmother, had four credit cards and two lines of debt, and tried to sell “everything in the house without ties.” He estimates he spent about $220,000 on treatment.
“I wake up at night trying to find money, but it’s been on my mind for a long time…it’s too heavy to carry,” he said.
“Fundraising is not the end of the road. We have a long way to go from now to get out of the hole we are in, but at least we have a plan.”
“capacity fully decimated”
More than 60,000 children are currently enrolled in the Ontario Autism Program. The majority do not receive funding for core services, but most receive a lump sum payment, and thousands have access to other parts of the program, including early services, basic family services, and admissions programs.
Even as more families start receiving funding, Blunt of the Ontario Autism Coalition worries about what happens next. We were unable to find a provider who would accept new clients.
“With so many delays over the last five years and capacity completely reduced, some families have cash on hand but nowhere to spend it,” she said.
“My biggest concern is that the ministry will use this as an excuse to cut the budget. They’re like, ‘Look, we sent money to my parents and they didn’t spend it.’ ‘s budget needs this much money.”