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2013-12-12 at 16:04

‘Negative impact’

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
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Day-care centre officials in the region say a recent decision by the local social services board is bad for special needs children and their families.

There are currently 18 resource teachers in the region funded through the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board through the provincial Ministry of Education. Those teachers work out of various day-care centres throughout the district helping children with special needs and their families.

Footsteps Family Centre executive director Colleen McBain said resource teacher helps with everything from making sure appointments are booked to gathering the proper resources for a child in the community.

"They are essential for a child's success," she said.

In July DSSAB was given a report saying the organization should shift to third party management and resource teachers should be used on a consultative basis instead.  

It argued that some centres are overstaffed and underutilized with resource teachers while others don't have any. The idea of the current model, adopted in 2009, was to have all centres in the district share resource teachers.

"Clearly this has not happened and has led to very expensive and inefficient model of service," the report states.

The board voted in favour of the third party plan in July.

All of this was news to the supervisors network committee of day-care centres, which was informed of the decision this past September. McBain said no consultation was ever done with any daycare before the report was offered up to the board.

"That was upsetting to us because we felt that we couldn't fix the problem because we weren't made aware of the problem," McBain said.

On Thursday resource teachers and daycare supervisors packed the DSSAB board room to ask the board to reconsider or at least give them more time to respond to the report.

"We have a great fear that it's going to have a negative impact on our families," Little Lions Waldorf Daycare and Kindergarten CEO Marilyn Grudniski said. "They're so reliant on this daily contact they have with their resources teacher."

"We felt we've been blindsided."

Grudniski said she doesn't blame the board for making a decision on good faith assuming that research and consultation was done.

"But that was just not the case," she said.

Board members seemed to be receptive to the idea of giving daycares more time. Mayor Keith Hobbs said it looked like DSSAB didn't do their homework before making a decision that could affect a lot of people in the community.

Also at the DSSAB meeting Thursday the board appointed long-time acting CAO Bill Bradica.



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