On December 16, 1999 Elizabeth Witmer, the Minister of Health & Long Term Care (MOHLTC) announced the government's commitment to provide School Health Support Services to all independent school and home educated school aged children in the province. This new initiative will come into effect in September, 2000. The expected cost to start up this program is between 3 & 4 million dollars. These services would be identical to those the public school children already receive since 1984. All costs will be covered by the MOHLTC through the local Community Care Access Centres (CCAC).
For all you history buffs, you may recall that the health services issue has long been a contention between independent educators and the government. It was part of the independent school funding issue that went to the Supreme Court a few years ago. That is known as the Adler case. The independent schools (OFTP was a party to this case) lost in their bid under the Charter of Rights & Freedoms. The Supreme Court ruled that the issue should be settled politically as there was no legal format for the court to force the Ontario government to fund independent education. Further pressure was brought on the government when the United Nations considered the issue and decided that there were discriminatory actions by the provincial government. To placate the independent education sector, Premier Harris decided the time was politically correct to extend the health services to the independent and home schooled children.
Since early January, the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents has been engaged in a series of implementation meetings with the various stake holders and the Ministry of Health. There are still a good number of details to iron out including the final wording of the regulation that will be put into effect this summer. However, our last meeting on June 20, 2000 allows OFTP to make the information available to our members.
It is estimated that about four percent of home schooled children will be able to benefit from this extended service. As well, it is understood that some of your children who can benefit from this service are already doing so. That is good.
Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology, Nursing, Physiotherapy, and Dietetic Services.
How do you access this service?
Educators, school principals and parents can refer a child to the local Community Care Access Centre for an assessment. When you believe or have reason to believe that your child may qualify for any of these services, contact your local Community Care Access Centre. Set up an appointment with a case worker there before September 1, 2000 if possible. Identify yourself as a parent whose child is in an independent school or is taught at home and that your school aged child may qualify for the school health support service. If the case worker does not consider your child to be eligible, ask for a referral to a professional or other agency who may be able to help. Do not be shy.
What are Community Care Access Centres?
In 1996, 43 Community Care Access Centres were created to consolidate health care services provided by 38 home care programs and 36 placement services. They are responsible, in part, for determining eligibility for, and buying on behalf of consumers the highest quality best priced visiting professional and homemaker services provided at home and in publicly funded schools as well as service planning and case management for each client. It must be remembered, however, that regardless of the amount of money willing to be spent, it is the availability of the right professional people that will determine the success of the programs offered. Unfortunately there is a great shortage of professionals in the fields of the services extended.
Who pays for this service?
The government is willing to commit whatever dollars are required to make this service work for you. All costs will be paid for by the Ministry of Health through the local Community Care Access Centre. You will receive no invoice for the service whether your child qualifies or not.
Where do I get further information?
A list of all Community Care Access Centres is included below. The local CCAC can provide you with a list of the services offered or refer you to someone who does. If problems are encountered please contact your local OFTP contact. The Ontario Community Care Access Centre website is www.oaccac.on.ca.
[The article included a list of all the CCACs. You can find that information in its most current form on the website of the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres.]
In the August 2000 issue of Home Rules, it was reported by Albert Lubberts, President of OFTP, that School Health Support Services would be extended to all independent schools as well as home educated school aged children in the province. This new initiative came into effect on September 2000. The services covered are: occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, nursing, physiotherapy and dietetic services.
Unfortunately, several OFTP members have tried to access this service and have run into road blocks with this new arrangement several in connection with speech therapy. Albert Lubberts has stated that the government has been slow in informing (educating) its officials about the new policy.
Please note that a home educated child does not have to be registered with a school board in order to access these services which is what homeschooling parents are being told when they contact the Access Centres. Many of the Access Centres know nothing about this new arrangement.
In order to cut through the lethargy on this issue and get your children the services they need, OFTP suggests that you write to the address below provided by Albert Lubberts:
Susan Donaldson, CEO,
Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres,
1940 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 500,
Scarborough, Ontario, M1C 4R1,
Email: sdonaldson@ (add oaccac.on.ca to complete the email address),
Phone: 416-750-1720, Ext. 23,
Her assistant is Lori Hay,
Phone 416-750-1720, Ext. 22,
lhay@ (add oaccac.on.ca to complete the email address).
[website manager's note: contact information may have changed since this article was published]
Explain your particular situation and refer them to the page on our website, indicated above, for specific details. OFTP would like to receive feedback on your dealings with Ms. Donaldson and any success you may have had at obtaining services for your child at one of the Access Centres.
The August 2000 issue of Home Rules published an article on the extension of school health support services by the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) to independent and home school children. Phase 1 of that initiative took effect in September, 2000. Children taught at home and those in independent schools finally have the same rights to health care services as those children taught in public schools.
But the Ministry of Health & Long -Term Care was not yet finished. In the May, 2000 budget, Ernie Eves, then Minister of Finance, announced an extension and an improvement in these health care services. There would be a total amount of $11,000,000 annualized spent on the improved program, up from the $3 to $4,000,000 of the original program. This new phase, phase 2 would be implemented effective January 1, 2001. OFTP has been part of the working group implementing both phases of this health support services.
It must be kept in mind that this program is entirely the initiative of the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care. All costs and administrative functions are being borne by it. Our Ministry of Education has nothing to do with this program. School boards have nothing to do with this program.
In the earlier edition of Home Rules, all the Community Care Access Centres were listed along with street addresses, phone numbers and, where applicable, e-mail addresses. As before, the only way to access the services provided is through these Centres.
The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents, at its expense, sent out a Ministry of Health & Long Term Care survey and information package to all the members and other home schooling organizations including OCHEC. The MOHLTC would have mailed these to OFTP members but OFTP does not divulge its membership list to anyone. The response to this survey was negligible. Therefore, we do not have a good handle on how many children might benefit from these services. This will impact future spending on this program.
Who benefits from this expansion of services?
Children with medical problems or physical disabilities attending home schools may receive personal support services and/or medical/personal equipment. For example:
- Children with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy or other medical problems may have a personal assistant to help them with eating, dressing and toileting.
- Children receiving a therapy service through the school health support services provided by the CCAC may require a personal assistant to follow through on the exercises or activities set up by the therapist. For example, the physiotherapist may teach range of motion exercises to the personal assistant to carry out with a non-ambulatory child on a regular basis through the school day.
What services are provided?
Personal Support Services: These include assistance with eating, dressing, toileting (including clean catheterization), personal hygiene (including shallow suctioning), mobility, transferring, positioning, and routine exercises taught by a physiotherapist, occupational therapist and/or a speech-language pathologist.
Medical and Personal Equipment: Purchase of equipment that is related to the provision of personal support services to a child. For example:
- medical or personal equipment that is covered by the MOHLTC's Assistive Devices Program (ADP) that is required for the home setting and where portability is problematic (e.g.: suction machine) and/or
- medical or personal equipment not covered by ADP but is needed to support the provision of personal support as a result of a professional assessment (e.g.: transfer boards, grab bars, raised toilet seat).
Costs related to changes in the home's infrastructure are not provided: cardio-pulmonary resuscitation equipment, elevators, stair glides, special toilets, hand rails for stairways and locked medication cupboard.
Educational equipment that allows the student to access the curriculum is not provided - FM systems for the hard-of-hearing, Braille printers and specially designed desks.
For parents who provide home schooling, funding is flowed through a local CCAC. This means that parents cannot receive funding directly from the CCAC. Through consultation with the parents the most efficient way to provide funding will be determined. Parents will be required to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the CCAC. Parents are required to submit receipts on a quarterly basis to the CCAC. Family members cannot be paid to provide service unless a service agreement has been reached between the agency and the local CCAC under the RFP policy.
Notwithstanding the above, home schooling parent(s) may enter into an agreement with a private school through which services may be funneled.
The information above is taken directly from a MOHLTC memorandum.
Unfortunately, the MOHLTC has taken the official, albeit erroneous, position
obtain a letter from the school board for the purposes of
determining satisfactory instruction.
This may prevent some deserving parents of receiving the rightful help for their child. School boards do not provide such letters since school boards do not have the jurisdiction to determine satisfactory instruction. As well, parents have no obligation to submit their home schooling programs to school boards for approval.
It is of interest to note, however, that some CCAC personnel do not agree or act in agreement with this policy directive from their own ministry.
Stay tuned for further developments in this area.
And again, if you encounter any difficulty with any CCAC please let me know. As with any new program it takes some time to iron out all the problems. There are still a number of "bugs" to work out. There are further meetings scheduled to do this.
[The article included contact information for Albert Lubberts. If you have any information or experiences to share, please contact OFTP through general enquiries.]