Mary Guldemond is reminding schools to connect with their Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) case manager and apply as soon as possible for School Health Support Services (SHSS).
Guldemond, special education consultant for the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS), says schools unsure about meeting the needs of a new student should promptly explore the needs, submit an application and talk about it with the case manager.
As of Sept. 1, 2011, the Ontario independent and private school SHSS fund merged with that of publicly-funded schools. This means the waitlists for approved services are the same for public and private schools, and independent schools will likely experience increased wait-times, says Guldemond.
While Ontario independent schools do not receive any funding through the Ministry of Education, through the Ministry of Health, schools can receive funding for some occupational therapy, speech therapy, physiotherapy, personal support worker (PSW) therapy and nursing.
“That has allowed us to provide an education to lots of children that otherwise we would not be able to serve in our schools, so it’s a wonderful gift,” says Guldemond.
She recently wrote a memo to schools to remind the special education teacher and/or principal to arrange a review meeting in the spring with their CCAC case manager. She notes protocols may vary in different regions, but most case managers appreciate an invitation to review services and discuss applications.
“I find the results are much better if you can develop a relationship with the case manager,” says Guldemond.
At one school, a recent meeting with the CCAC case manager saw the manager appreciative of summary notes prepared by the special education teacher on each student’s needs and progress. The case manager offered additional services for particular students and suggested applying for PSW services for some students not yet served.
When applying for PSW and other services, Guldemond says a diagnosis helps, as well as noting difficulties with activities of daily living. The word “behaviour” should not be used, as it can be seen as a teacher issue. Instead, focus on the child’s needs such as safety risk factors, anxiety and fatigue.
Guldemond suggests schools fill out an additional summary sheet that can be added to the SHSS application describing more about who the child is and his or her needs. To learn more, contact Mary Guldemond by e-mailing maryg(at)oacs.org.