What improvements are being made to the program?
- Increasing the average annual funding per child from $27,500 to $33,000 per child;
- Developing and providing training for parents to increase parent involvement;
- Aligning the new model with the school districts to ensure a smooth transition to school for children and consistency throughout the province. This means that children will receive services by the agency in their school district;
- Increasing wages and travel reimbursement for intervention staff which will reduce turnover and improve services;
- Increasing quality and consistency of service to children through a pod staffing model that serves 25 children with set ratios of professional to paraprofessional staff to ensure sufficient clinical supervision;
- Use the Comprehensive Assessment for Learning and Independence and the Comprehensive Curriculum for Learning and Independence as assessment and intervention tools for the child. These tools were developed by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) and the Lovaas Institute in Minnesota and are currently being used for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in New Brunswick schools;
- Providing training to all agency staff in new intervention strategies and tools to increase the rate of learning for children and help reduce turnover in staff.
Preschool autism online training has also been developed for autism workers. This training will align with the ASD online training for educational professionals available across the Atlantic Provinces.
Why are you making these improvements to the program?
These changes will improve the quality of intervention to children with a personalized plan, trained staff and continued communication with parents and will result in increased learning and development for children who participate in the program.
Will these changes result in less funding?
No, in fact, funding will increase on average from $27,500 to almost $33,000 per child.
Why did you need a new contract for services when there are already agencies?
The Public Purchasing Act requires that large contracts be filled through an open Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The successful agency was selected through this rigorous and transparent process with the goal of ensuring that high quality services are delivered to children.
Who was consulted about the changes?
EECD did a program analysis in 2014. Parents and agencies were consulted at different times during the analysis and development of an action plan. New Brunswick and international experts provided input about how we could improve the effectiveness of the program.
What feedback did you receive from parents about the program during the consultations?
EECD consulted parents through a focus group, survey and regional presentations. In general, parents asked for training for themselves, increased training for staff, reduced staff turnover, standardized intervention across the province, and improvements in the transition to school process.
Will there be a disruption in service?
No, we do not anticipate any disruption in service. The department will work with the agencies to ensure that the transition between contracts is as smooth as possible. The department and the successful agency will communicate with parents through the transition time to help them with the transition.
How will you manage the transition for the children receiving services through the changes?
The successful agency will establish a transition plan with the department for each school district to ensure that files and intervention services are transferred. The department and the successful agency will communicate with parents during this period to help them with the transition.
Will the program continue to provide 20 hours of intervention per week?
Yes, the focus is on improving the quality and consistency of the intervention.
When will these changes occur?
New contracts are effective in February. The updated services will begin throughout this time period to give a transition period that will allow for continuity of service for children. EECD will contact parents directly with information about the agency that will provide intervention.
Who will work with my child?
The new agency within the school district will assign staff to work with your child. New Brunswick has a large group of highly trained staff providing intervention. Every effort will be made to ensure a smooth transition for children and their families.
Will staff working for the previous agencies lose their jobs?
The personnel working in the field of autism are a highly skilled and specialized workforce. While the contracted agency is responsible for managing its personnel, we do not anticipate widespread job losses since many of these highly trained workers will be hired by the new agencies offering services.
Who will answer parents’ questions during the transition?
Parents can contact the new agency providing services with any questions about changes to services through the transition.
Parents may also contact the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development by phone at 1-844-377-3819, by e-mail at Autism.Autisme@gnb.ca.