July 2019 - Update
On July 29, the Ontario Government announced new steps to provide continuity of service to children with Autism. Based on this announcement, a new needs-based autism program will be designed by April 2020. Ontario is also investing an additional $278 million in the province's autism program, bringing the total amount of funding to $600 million annually. Read news release.
The Toronto District School Board is waiting for additional information in order to assess the potential impact of these measures on its schools and students. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.
Here is a preliminary analysis of the announcement regarding the Ministry’s plan for supporting students with Autism (March 11, 2019). Below you will find related info regarding school board funding to support Autism and how it applies to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).
Ministry’s Announcement on 2018-19 Per Pupil Funding
Ministry Announced: To address school boards’ in-year needs, the Ministry intends to provide for an extended count date for those students who have been receiving OAP services and are newly enrolling in the April to June 2019 school months. School boards will report enrolment as of March 31 as usual. However, an extended count date will allow school boards to receive full school year funding for eligible, newly enrolled students for the remaining months of the 2018-19 school year. This mechanism will provide an average of $12,300 per pupil to allow boards to plan supports for the remainder of the current school year.
TDSB: The Board would receive additional funding for new students who register between now and June 30th. That means that students, for whom the Board would normally receive partial or no funding at this time of year, will receive the full Grant for Student Need (GSN) funding. The Ministry is not providing additional funding for students who are currently registered with us and transitioning from part-time to full time status as a result of this announcement.
This is a one-time funding for students registering this spring and does not represent any further or additional funding into the 2019/20 academic year. In the weeks ahead, we’ll have an estimation of the number of new students we’re expecting.
2019-20 School Year
Ministry Announced: For the 2019-20 school year, the ministry intends to provide additional funding, and continued funding, to support school boards and students with ASD.
TDSB: Additional funding will be focused on professional development and after school skills development. Continued funding means that come next school year, all students will receive the same per pupil funding allocation. There is no additional funding allocation for ASD students to further support transitions for students already registered or into the 2019/20 academic year.
Promoting Professional Learning
Ministry Announced: The ministry will provide $1 million in annual funding to fully subsidize teachers who wish to acquire the Teaching Students with Communication Needs (Autism Spectrum Disorder) additional qualification. The ministry anticipates that this support would allow up to 4,000 teachers to acquire this qualification over the next three years. The ministry will also increase training opportunities available to school boards by doubling annual funding for the Geneva Centre for Autism to $2 million to provide training opportunities for educators, including teachers and EAs.
In 2019-20, the ministry will request that school boards focus the special education topic on the list of Professional Activity Day permitted topics on supporting students with ASD. Policy/Program Memorandum 151 will be amended to include this direction. In 2020-21, the ministry will mandate that school boards support learning opportunities for all educators in supporting students with ASD, within a professional activity day. The ministry will support new teachers by revising the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP) Induction Elements Manual to include increased ABA-based training opportunities.
TDSB: The TDSB continues to be committed to providing quality professional development (PD) focused on supporting students with Autism through behavioural supports and PD focused on Educational Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA). We offer courses through Key to Learn, and have long partnered with the Geneva Centre to provide courses to support staff capacity from basic to advanced understandings of Autism, ABA, and behavioural strategies. Our goal is to meet staff where they are at to increase their capacity to serve locally. Any additional funding to support this work is appreciated.
We will continue to partner with the Geneva Centre to provide such PD opportunities. In the TDSB, we provide PD to support ABA and behavioural strategies for central, school staff, and leaders through workshops as well as in schools as central staff work collaboratively with staff locally. Financial support for teachers to take Additional Qualification Courses focused on Autism is welcome. The additional financial support for teachers to take Additional Qualification Courses focused on Autism is indeed new money as a result of this announcement to support teacher PD. Such PD is teacher-initiated, rather than offered through TDSB professional development.
Funding for Special Education and Student Supports
Ministry Announced: Special education funding is projected to be $3.01 billion in 2018-19, which will continue in 2019-20. A number of components of special education funding are claims based and responsive to changes in enrolment of students with high needs. School boards are encouraged to access these allocations and to engage the ministry if additional flexibility is required to ensure this funding is fully available for students with ASD. In particular, school boards are reminded of existing components of special education funding, which may be particularly relevant in supporting newly enrolled students with ASD.
TDSB: This information references existing funding such as Special Equipment Amount (SEA), Special Incidence Portion (SIP) as part of special education funding and do not represent new or additional money for school boards.
Expanding After School Skills Development Programs
Ministry Announced: The ministry has been supporting a pilot program in many boards to allow the provision of the After-School Skills Development Program. The ministry will make an investment of $6.1 million to allow this successful pilot to be extended to all school boards across the province in the 2019-20 school year.
TDSB: We have completed two After-School pilot programs in this 2018/19 academic year for students with Autism focusing on social skills and self-regulation strategies. Additional funding to support this program will allow TDSB to explore expanding this program to more locations throughout the TDSB.
Ministry Announced: The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services will continue supporting transitions of children with ASD to school through the Connections for Students model, during the transition to the redesigned OAP. The ministry will also host a series of virtual sessions about exclusions and modified days to engage parents, educators, administrators and others in a dialogue about these complex issues. The details will be communicated at a later date. The ministry will survey school boards regularly to assess the impact of increased school enrolment and attendance by children and youth with ASD as they transition into the school system. The ministry will also ask boards to provide information on their websites for families seeking to enrol their children and youth.
TDSB: Information about how to register and initiate any transition process from therapy to full time school has been posted on our website with links to the centrally assigned principal in each Learning Centre who can assist families accordingly. The Connections for Students model is a transition program that connects TDSB staff from the Autism team with clinical staff and families to discuss how to best support a successful transition. While no additional funding has been announced to support, this process will continue. Each student registration and transition will be considered on a case-by-case basis to support individual student needs for the transition and beyond.