(PERTH) – Randy Hillier (MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington) expressed his disappointment with the recent refusal for key players involved in the delivery of programs for children with mental health disabilities to meet for open and frank discussion on how to provide these services in the next school year. On March 30 of this year the UCDSB notified Hillier they had terminated their delivery of these services effective the end of June.
Schedule 23 Programs are delivered to children who have been removed from schools due to behavioral disabilities, or other challenges. In Lanark and Leeds & Grenville Counties, these services have historically and successfully been provided by a private, not-for-profit organization called the Dalhousie Group, who has delivered the Cordick Education and Treatment Program to over 600 children and youth from our communities in the last 19 years.
By all standards of measure, and most importantly, by those of the children’s parents, the Dalhousie Group has provided exceptional service and educational assistance to their children, improving their ability to adapt and function and return to regular schools.
“It is disappointing to see UCDSB terminate this partnership and turn their backs on disadvantaged children because of a political/ideological preference,” observed Hillier. “It is clear from the refusal to engage in these discussions that the quality of the program delivery is less important to both the Ministry and the Upper Canada School Board than the bureaucratic convenience to administer it.”
“It certainly appears that the money for the Cordick Program will now be diverted and used to reduce the operating deficit of another agency, Open Doors Lanark. It’s a travesty to harm our children and their potential due to a lack of fiscal management at an unrelated agency.
“It’s unacceptable that parents and some of the most vulnerable students in the Upper Canada board are being put in this situation. Parents are justifiably concerned about what will happen to their children in September if they lose access to these exceptional supports and programming,” said Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark.
“To decline the opportunity to discuss how to maintain a program that is helping these students achieve their full potential is shocking. I can’t imagine anything that would be a greater priority for these officials and I’m calling on them to reconsider and get to the table with an open mind.”
“I am extremely frustrated that our public institutions refuse, for ideological and political reasons, to meet their responsibilities to the public,” added Hillier. “These changes will not only affect families, but will also affect teachers and educational assistants, none of whom know what program might be available in September, where it might be delivered, or who the mental health partner will be.”