The P.E.I. government announced new initiatives Monday to reduce a 3½-year wait list for student psychological assessments.
There are currently about 435 students on the assessment list, with a wait time of 3½ years.
Education Minister Jordan Brown announced measures to reduce that time to less than a year by 2020, including $2 million in new funding to cover the cost.
- Adding two psychologist positions, increasing the complement to 10.4.
- Contracting private practice psychologists to reduce the wait list.
- Adding recruitment incentives that cover licensing fees, relocation and other costs.
- Hiring four intervention support teachers to assist classroom teachers.
- Hiring two assistive technology facilitators to help implement recommendations for helping students.
Supports being put in place
Brown said one new psychologist is in the process of being hired, but added there is still a lot more work to be done.
"There's always a lot of talk about child psychology resources but that's not the end of the story," Brown said.
"We need to, once we get the assessments done, have the resources to put the interventions that are required in place."
That is why the announcement includes the intervention support teachers and the technology facilitators.
Loretta Hawley-McAleer, a school psychologist with the Public School Branch, said the announcement of the resources to help once the assessment is done is particularly exciting for her.
"It can be quite disheartening to know that you can offer consultation but that you're limited in being able to offer a full range of ready access to services," Hawley-McAleer said.
"So we're pretty excited about the potential for positive outcomes for our students."
West Royalty Elementary principal Marilyn MacLean was also pleased to hear about the new supports for students who have been assessed.
"Teachers, our resources teachers, will be meeting with people from the Public Schools Branch — whether it's new tech support people or intervention specialist teachers —that can help them determine the successful intervention to use with that child," MacLean said.
Brown noted he has said before the problem cannot be solved with money, and acknowledged the province still has a recruitment challenge ahead of it.
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | 13-year-old Charlottetown student back for 2nd university semester
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | Couple 'relieved' to return home after false ballistic missile alert