Wednesday, October 5, 2016

simply listening and giving a voice to them isn't enough we need deliverables and begin with acknowledgements--------"Poverty is the No. 1 problem" for people with disabilities, with many relying on welfare to subsist, says Michael Mendelson, a senior scholar at the Caledon Institute of Social Policy.--------------In Ontario, 21,000 people were waiting for assistance in 2014. Last July, the provincial government dedicated $810 million over three years to help reduce wait lists.----“I’m just jazzed that we’re going to be able to provide this opportunity to our high school students,” board chairman Michael Janz said. It’s a chance for students to hone communication skills and learn how to function in a corporate environment, all while improving their schools, he said.--------Youth with neurodevelopmental disorders, like autism or Down syndrome, often stay within the structured confines of school until they're too old to attend at 21. Parents often struggle to help their children, who are now considered adults, find their place in the world. "Before 21, there's always something to do," says Graeme S. Treeby, founder of the Special Needs Planning Group, which helps families plan for the financial futures of their children with disabilities. "Then, at 21, you walk into a big abyss."---------"I still encounter far too many families where the person with the disability is sitting at home watching the TV," he says of families of children with special needs that he visits for work. "That's not appropriate."---------Treeby wants to see more programs geared towards helping young adults with special needs become part of their communities, through volunteer opportunities or day programs, like his daughter attends.------'Consistent' support needed People with disabilities need to have a sense of belonging, like they did among a peer group in school, says Briano Di Rezze, a scientist at McMaster University's CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research. He studies how special needs youth transition into adulthood. That becomes challenging when "there really is nowhere to go" after high school. Families are often left to with the "daunting task" of navigating what services may be available to their child after they turn 21, he says. Parents have to figure out not only what help is out there, but also if their child qualifies to receive it.------------This shift from a supportive education system to "realizing there is nothing after 21 and high school" can overwhelm families, says Di Rezze. Programs and funding differ by province and territory, he says — even some communities are better equipped than others to integrate special needs adults. Families deserve "a seamless and a consistent continuum of support" that integrates community and health services, he says. They should be provided with a clear list of choices for their child's activities after school. Those services should incorporate children of different abilities, he says, and not place restrictions on eligibility based on criteria like IQ level. Schools should also prepare youth for independent or community living at an earlier age to help prepare students for life after graduation. "It's a human right to be part of communities and to be engaged. And for people to be held back because of systems or barriers, I think that needs to be changed," he says. "We want to give them opportunities to maximize their strengths in a community."----

it is another day in Alberta
and I get to read about death and abuse

the stories are harrowing
and all for a lack of intelligence

in a system that doesn't get better
we read about staff at the hospital

who can't tell a patient isn't breathing
because a fan is blowing her bed sheets


we read about a child placed
with her aunt with her own problems

who ends up beaten to death
(this is no joke)    we read about a severely handicapped woman

who  we are told      has capacity when this isn't clear
and as such can decide the route of premature termination all on her own

it's an odd world we live in
meanwhile the folks at all levels in government

produce positive politics and student trustee positions
to give the powerless a voice that has no voting power


it's a beginning I guess
to have the students at least   chatter in public but what is it we will hear?

will we hear about the explosion of anxiety disorders in Alberta?
will we hear about the deaths of children in care who miss school and no one cares?

will we hear about the problems of special needs children
who have to drop out because there are no supports and services to help them?

what will the student trustees tell us about their peers?
and what will be the surface of the debate that is coordinated behind closed doors?

surely y'all see this is all a fiction?
we're seeing the drama that is played out for real       in our families


we're seeing the politicians provide us the good news stories of performance
but unfortunately the reality is that families aren't being served and the appeals

yes the appeals are simply more hoops that families jump through
to the same ends that government decides for them

you only have to look at the situation of the no zero teacher to have the power imbalance
made clear   or perhaps see what happened to Shauna McHarg to see that the government

at all levels plays one tune in public   of democracy in action
but the reality is quite different       these student trustees are newbies to the action

but I have witnessed the show for years now
and I can't be convinced that the voices of our families will be heard

simply listening and giving a voice to them isn't enough
we need deliverables and begin with acknowledgements

of failures in the system
but of course government is never wrong

we only have the fatality reports
to refute this             as well as the stories of families

who have to home school their kids
or take them the private route for success

these are real problems 
we want real solutions and not chatter



http://www.edmontonsun.com/2016/04/05/student-trustees-to-join-edmonton-public-school-board

Student trustees to join Edmonton public school board



FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 05, 2016 07:30 PM MDT
Edmonton public school board chairman Michael JanzEdmonton public school board chairman Michael Janz says he's "jazzed" about a new student senate that will see three students serve as non-voting student trustees on the school board. Greg Southam / Postmedia News
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Three high school students will take turns as a non-voting Edmonton public school trustee next school year.
A teen-made plan to strike a senate composed of students from the city’s 24 public high schools earned unanimous passing grades from the public school board Tuesday. That senate will choose three representatives to represent them during at least three school board meetings next year.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for students to express their voice freely at that kind of level,” said 17-year-old Harry Ainlay student Alison Caulfield. She’s one of 33 students who came from across the district to hammer out a plan to get student perspectives to the board table.
The board’s experiment in student representation began in September 2014, when 17-year-old Johannah Ko became the first student trustee in a year-long experiment that was a first for Alberta.
Although the board thought it was a good start, trustees wanted more students to have input, rather than asking one teen to represent 93,000 pupils.
Students from across the city enrolled in a “district legacy” course hosted at McNally High School were asked to study the options and propose a model to the board, which they did Tuesday.
After questioning the students about whether teens are really that interested in sitting through senate and school board meetings, elected trustees agreed to scoot over and make room at the table for a student at a minimum of three regular meetings next year.
“I’m just jazzed that we’re going to be able to provide this opportunity to our high school students,” board chairman Michael Janz said.
It’s a chance for students to hone communication skills and learn how to function in a corporate environment, all while improving their schools, he said.
“These skill sets are so foundational when you look at how many boards, and agencies, and commissions there are in Alberta, and how foundational good democracy is, not just to our parliament and legislatures, but to the full functioning of civil society,” Janz said.
This spring, each Edmonton public high school will elect up to two representatives to serve on the student senate. That senate will elect three representatives to serve as student trustees during the 2016-17 school year. Each of the three will take a turn sitting at the board table, with the other two present in the audience to answer questions when requested.
The senate will also serve as a resource to board members who want student feedback throughout the year, the plan says.
Some B.C. boards also have a student trustee, and Ontario has enough student trustees to form an association of members.
Harry Ainlay student Jacob Dunn said he hopes Edmonton public’s new arrangement will inspire students in other school districts to push for a similar seat at board tables.
“We had a board that is very, very forward thinking, that is very awesome at recognizing the contribution of students, and this is really the perfect time for something like this. This is really a huge step forward for students across Alberta,” Jacob, 16, said.
The board agreed to spend an extra $26,000 next year to give the students administrative support. District staff will evaluate the project before the board decides whether to keep the model when the year is up.
jfrench@postmedia.com
https://www.pressreader.com/canada/edmonton-journal/20160330/281672549079945


Poll reveals mixed views on special-needs issues

 

      Nearly one out of every 100 Alberta kids is classified as having special needs.
   
     Pamela Francis, a Calgarian with a 12-year-old daughter who has Rett Syndrome wasn't surprised by the numbers.

    Francis said before her daughter Emma was diagnosed, she didn't know anyone with a child with special needs. After the diagnosis, it took time and effort to navigate the various supports available.

  "Before Emma was born, we knew nothing about this whole community," she said.

  "In the beginning, you're floundering, you don't know where to turn... Talking to other parents was the greatest resource for us."

  Francis has since met parents who've moved to Alberta with their special-needs child because of the government support here, but she noted programs and funds aren't always easy to access.

  "We feel like we have to fight for every dollar of funding. We have to validate that we need it," she said. 

      Among the poll respondents who had formed an opinion, 55 per cent said the government isn't doing enough when it comes to education for special-needs kids, 37 per cent said the same for recreational services, 42 per cent for housing  and 33 per cent for accessibility.


    In a separate statement, Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir said the safety and well-being of children with special needs is a priority for the provincial government.

 
 "We are committed to ensuring that every Albertan has the resources and support they need to reach their full potential," he said.

  But Liberal interim leader David Swann said he believes there are insufficient supports across the province for people with special needs, especially serious physical disabilities and autism.

  "Anecdotally, I've heard from many parents with special needs kids who feel very stretched, distressed and lacking in the support, whether it's the emotional support, financial support, transportation support, "he said.


http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/special-needs-youth-face-big-abyss-after-leaving-school-1.3095279




Special-needs youth face 'big abyss' after leaving school


Long wait times for costly programs create financial burdens

By Aleksandra Sagan, CBC News Posted: Jun 02, 2015 7:01 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 02, 2015 9:08 AM ET
After students with special needs leave high school, families are often faced with having to navigate what services and funding may be available for their child.
After students with special needs leave high school, families are often faced with having to navigate what services and funding may be available for their child. (iStock)
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Youth with neurodevelopmental disorders, like autism or Down syndrome, often stay within the structured confines of school until they're too old to attend at 21. Parents often struggle to help their children, who are now considered adults, find their place in the world.
"Before 21, there's always something to do," says Graeme S. Treeby, founder of the Special Needs Planning Group, which helps families plan for the financial futures of their children with disabilities.
"Then, at 21, you walk into a big abyss."
He has a 28-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy who is also on the autism spectrum.
Treeby and his wife, Anne, helped by a transition program at their daughter's school, searched for a suitable placement for her after graduation. They eventually secured Jenny a spot in a nearby day program. But, for some time after school, Jenny didn't have anywhere to go.
"I still encounter far too many families where the person with the disability is sitting at home watching the TV," he says of families of children with special needs that he visits for work. "That's not appropriate."
Often, it's because there are no sufficient community resources near the family's home or they have long wait lists, he says. In Ontario, 21,000 people were waiting for assistance in 2014. Last July, the provincial government dedicated $810 million over three years to help reduce wait lists.
Treeby wants to see more programs geared towards helping young adults with special needs become part of their communities, through volunteer opportunities or day programs, like his daughter attends.

'Consistent' support needed

People with disabilities need to have a sense of belonging, like they did among a peer group in school, says Briano Di Rezze, a scientist at McMaster University's CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research. He studies how special needs youth transition into adulthood. That becomes challenging when "there really is nowhere to go" after high school.
Families are often left to with the "daunting task" of navigating what services may be available to their child after they turn 21, he says. Parents have to figure out not only what help is out there, but also if their child qualifies to receive it.
"It's a human right to be part of communities and to be engaged."– Briano Di Rezze, CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research scientist
This shift from a supportive education system to "realizing there is nothing after 21 and high school" can overwhelm families, says Di Rezze.
Programs and funding differ by province and territory, he says — even some communities are better equipped than others to integrate special needs adults.
Families deserve "a seamless and a consistent continuum of support" that integrates community and health services, he says.
They should be provided with a clear list of choices for their child's activities after school. Those services should incorporate children of different abilities, he says, and not place restrictions on eligibility based on criteria like IQ level.
Schools should also prepare youth for independent or community living at an earlier age to help prepare students for life after graduation.
"It's a human right to be part of communities and to be engaged. And for people to be held back because of systems or barriers, I think that needs to be changed," he says.
"We want to give them opportunities to maximize their strengths in a community."

'A big financial strain on families'

But even when families manage to find a program, the biggest concern is often cost, says Treeby. Day programs can cost upwards of $100 daily.
"It's a big financial strain on families."
Martha Galloway 2
Martha Galloway's family can't afford to pay $15 to $25 an hour for a caregiver from the $4,000 a year provided by the Ontario government. (CBC)
There isn't sufficient funding to help parents pay for support or basic living expenses after their kids are considered adults, he says. In many cases, he says, parents are held responsible for providing long-term quality of life for disabled kids who won't become independent by their late 20s, like most other children would.
Not everyone qualifies for existing funding schemes like the Ontario Disability Support Program or the province's passport funding to help pay for extra support, he says.
Even those who do, may find the maximum payouts not very generous when rent, utilities, transportation, food and other expenses are taken into account.
He says there's not much planning parents can do other than "squirreling away as much money" as possible, like through an RDSP or using life insurance to fund a Henson trust. They need to make sure their savings don't exempt their child from government funds, and staying informed about local services.

Basic income plan proposed

"Poverty is the No. 1 problem" for people with disabilities, with many relying on welfare to subsist, says Michael Mendelson, a senior scholar at the Caledon Institute of Social Policy.
He believes Canadians with severe disabilities should be guaranteed a basic income in a plan similar to the country's income guarantee for low-earning seniors through the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
Mendelson co-authored a 2010 report calling for the government to introduce such a program. The report suggested offering a single person with a severe disability $12,160 annually.
Initial interest in the proposal fizzled, he says, but increased public awareness about the economic disadvantages facing people with disabilities could help make such a plan feasible.
Now, the Canadian Association for Community Living is advocating a similar idea. The organization wants to push during the upcoming federal election for a national benefit program for disabled people.

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