Mom struggles to find childcare in Calgary for boy with ADHD
Advocates say hundreds of Alberta parents are having similar experiences
The school year has already begun, but a Calgary mom is still struggling to find childcare for her seven-year-old son with ADHD — a situation she worked all summer to avoid.
Christina Burke's son was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the spring and was removed from his aftercare program in June due to behavioural concerns.
With the new school year approaching, Burke hoped to resolve the situation with the school, knowing that routines and consistency are crucial for children with ADHD.
Burke said she was told securing funding for a behavioural aide could help facilitate her son's return to the program.
"The behaviour aide would be specifically trained for his needs," Burke said. "They would be with him 100 per cent of the time that he is in the program."
Burke worked with a case worker to secure funding for her child through Alberta's Family Support for Children with Disabilities program.
With funding secured, Burke was confident her son would be able to return. However, she was informed in August it wasn't possible, as funding is doled out only once the program accepts the child.
"I told them I had secured the funding, but they were responsible to apply because as the parent I am unable to," Burke said. "She, at that point, told me that my children were not welcome back in the program."
The situation isn't entirely unique, said Staci Wilson, political advocacy chair for the School Age Care Directors Association of Alberta.
Wilson said that once the funds are earmarked for a child, the onus is on the childcare provider to interview, hire and train someone — and the funds cover only the time the child is in care.
"So if the child is only in the program for five hours in a day, what are going to be the options of finding someone with those high skills who only wants to work five hours?" Wilson said. "Or what if they only come in the afternoon and it's only two or three hours?"
Wilson said more co-operation between government ministries could help to ensure funding is allocated to those kids who need it.
Burke has found a day home for her two kids, but as a single mother, it's just a temporary solution.
"It's double the cost of what I was paying to the before-and-after-school care," she said. "That's not within my reach to afford, so I'm still at a dead end."
With files from Elissa Carpenter