Camp for kids with autism fears for funding

The charity behind an Ottawa summer camp for children with autism is worried about the program's future after the province froze the funding that covers most of its costs.

Camp Kaleidoscope in jeopardy without provincial grant, charity says

Camp Kaleidoscope has been going strong for eight years. Fees are subsidized through a variety of funding programs, including Focus on Youth, a partnership between the province and school boards. (Children at Risk)

The charity behind an Ottawa summer camp for children with autism is worried about the program's future after the province froze the funding that covers most of its costs.

Brenda Reisch, executive director of Children at Risk, has written to families whose kids have attended Camp Kaleidoscope to warn them it might not be offered again this summer.

"That would be devastating to hundreds of families that can't access the support in the summer," said Reisch, who's asking families to contact their MPPs.  

Camp Kaleidoscope marked its eighth year last summer, when the all-day program was offered over five weeks.

Reisch said the camp relies on a $50,000 grant from the Ministry of Education's Focus on Youth fund, money it uses to hire staff and pay rent at the Nepean school where the camp is held.

Last year, the fund handed out $7.6 million to school boards across the province to support a variety of programs.

Camp Kaleidoscope may not be able to run this summer after the province froze a special fund that supports programs for young people. We speak to the head of the charity that runs the camp. 7:48

But now the fund has been frozen as part of a spending review ahead of the upcoming provincial budget on April 11.

Reisch said by this time last year, the camp already had a commitment from the Ottawa Catholic School Board that the funding was in place.

"Nothing has been said, but the fact that nothing has been said can speak volumes," Reisch said.

According to Children at Risk, the true cost of Camp Kaleidoscope would be $1,200 per child per week, but with the Focus on Youth grant and other funding, parents paid $550 per week last summer.

Brenda Reisch, executive director of the charity Children at Risk, is asking parents to pressure their MPPs to continue funding for Camp Kaleidoscope. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)

"Camp Kaleidoscope has been wonderful for both of my children. It's really difficult to find a camp experience in the city that gives you one-on-one with your child," said Kate Logue, whose two kids have attended the camp.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board said it has asked the province about the funding, but is still waiting for details.

In an email, the ministry said no funding decisions have been made.

"The ministry will continue to communicate with school boards in a timely and transparent manner," the ministry said. "Our decisions will be measured and responsible, with a focus on supporting students."