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Parents of special needs kids worried they'll need to fight even harder for support in B.C.

Last Updated Nov 19, 2019 at 6:13 am PST

Students in an art class. GETTY IMAGES/Caiaimage/Robert Daly
Summary

The parent of a special needs teen is worried a new funding model in B.C. could impact support levels

The provincial government is reviewing special needs support using statistical data rather than student numbers

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –┬áSome parents and teachers are worried they will need to fight even harder for classroom supports as the British Columbia government wraps up a review of how it funds education in the coming months.

Laila Yuile is a writer and political blogger who is also the mother of a teen with special needs. She has spent years advocating to ensure her son gets the support he needs.

She recently posted that she believes parents will need to be even bigger advocates for their children if the province’s education funding review results in what is called a “prevalence model,” relying on statistical averages rather than the actual number of students designated as special needs.

Yuile says it’s time for other parents like her to get loud.

“We’ve already seen big issues in B.C. schools this fall, and it hasn’t even begun to make news like it should. Despite injections of cash, B.C. education is still grossly underfunded and understaffed,” she writes.

“There is a shortage of educational assistants in many, if not most districts, including my own, which means kids with special needs are still being sent home when no EA can be found. There still isn’t enough staff or funding under the current model! The only losers here if this prevalence model passes will be kids, and this is going to blindside thousands of parents.”

British Columbia Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring says the union shares those worries.

“We are concerned with any kind of prevalence model being used. We concerned with severing that tie between the needs of students in classrooms and funding. One of the biggest problems we see currently is that there just isn’t enough funding. The funding formula review did not address the level of funding whatsoever — it was not a part of the terms of reference and that is a big problem,” she tells NEWS 1130.

“The fallout for students, and teachers, is that teachers rely on those assessments in order to develop effective programming for students and parents, who are understandably concerned about their child’s learning, may need to seek private assessments which are very costly,” Mooring adds.

“That is currently a bit of a problem because there is a backlog in terms of assessments because the system is underfunded. Most districts just don’t have the funding to adequately assess all the students who need to be assessed in a timely manner. We think that will become even worse under prevalence because there isn’t any funding directly tied to those designations. We are concerned it will have a real impact on student learning in classrooms because there will be less information for teachers to work with.”

Mooring says the public school system should provide what all students need in order to learn.

“We really do need to make sure those assessments happen, that they are timely, that teachers and parents have the information they need to properly support students in classrooms.”