Children on a rehabilitation wait list are eager for services to become available as new provincial funding is announced.
More than 900 children in the Waterloo region are still waiting for speech and occupational therapy from children’s treatment center, KidsAbility.
After still being on the wait list, parents are concerned the announced funding from the provincial government will not be enough.
“You think they would want to accept you and help you,” says Sheila Ims, grandmother of Abbygial, a five-year-old autistic child. “When you are turned down, there is no answer as to why.”
Abbygial’s family was on the wait list at KidsAbility for more than two years before she was removed from the list.
Once a child reaches the age of junior kindergarten, the child is ‘age-out’, meaning the child is too old to receive therapy.
Abbygial was ‘aged-out’ when she turned four.
The Minister of Children and Youth Services announced in August the additional funding would be used to shorten the KidsAbility wait list each year. This is on top of the $7 million the company receives from the government annually.
“It will help take one hundred children off the wait list,” KidsAbility media spokesperson Dayna Giorgio says.
With removing one hundred children from the wait list costing $310,000, KidsAbility will need over $2.5 million from the government to remove the remaining children off the wait list.
“We are committed to enhancing service delivery,” KidsAbility director of client services Jayne Matzeg says about the group’s aim to accept more children.
But for Abbygial and her grandmother, the additional funding won’t help.
Abbygial was not accepted into junior kindergarten last year because she lacked communication and life skills.
“We need help for these kids to reach their maximum potential,” her grandmother Sheila says.
Aside from Sheila frequently taking time off work to attend appointments for her granddaughter, she also seeks additional help.
Due to Abbygial being non-verbal, Sheila pays up to $43 an hour for private speech therapy.
“It is very upsetting because I would have preferred [for her] to go to KidsAbility,” Sheila says.
Aside from being denied at various autism therapy programs, she cannot change addresses or phone numbers in fear of being inaccessible to the wait list callers.
“It is very tedious and frustrating,” Sheila says.
After waiting for a spot in the Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy at Kerry’s Place Autism Services for the past year, Sheila says she finally received an acceptance call.
Beginning at the end of September, KPAS (joint with KidsAbility) will lead workshops geared at teaching Abbygial the life skills she needs for school while she waits for better therapy programs to become available.