P.E.I. puts up $2M to cut wait times for student psychological assessments

The P.E.I. government announced new initiatives Monday morning to reduce a 3½-year wait list for student psychological assessments.

2 psychology positions added

The government's new initiatives are aimed at getting students any extra help they need in school more quickly. (Getty Images)

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."

Education Minister Jordan Brown says one new psychologist is in the process of being hired. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

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."

School psychologist Loretta Hawley-McAleer is excited to see supports for students being put in place. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

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.

With files from Steve Bruce