School Health Support Services Phase 2

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.

The case manager may determine that a child initially requires the services of a therapist, through the school health support services, to determine how to promote the child's independence and/or the appropriate equipment prior to authorizing the provision of personal support services and/or equipment.

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).

Other examples of medical and personal support equipment related to the provision of personal support services that can be provided include: standers, grab bars, commode chairs, walkers, change table, suction machine, adaptive feeding equipment, adaptive seating equipment, lift, wheelchair table, and percussor.

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 that parents 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.

Since this report was written, there has been a change in government policy towards homeschooling. School boards are now directed by PPM131 to reply to a parent's Letter of Intent with a letter of acknowledgement, which CCACs will accept as verification of "school board 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's Special Needs volunteer at specialneeds@ontariohomeschool.org.]

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Topics: Laws & Policies, OFTP's Work, Special Needs