Thunder Bay

Daycare workers worry new system will affect special needs children

Thunder Bay daycare workers are speaking out against centralized management of staff who work with special needs children.

The Thunder Bay Social Services administration board plans to change who manages resource teachers

Wanda Collins, executive director of Schoolhouse Playcare Centre, said having the same resource teacher fosters close relationships between child, teacher and family. (Courtesy Wanda Collins)

Thunder Bay daycare workers are speaking out against centralized management of the resource teachers who work with special needs children.  

Right now, many daycare centres get funding for their resource teachers and manage them directly. But the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board plans to bring in a third party to take over supervising staff for special needs children. That provider would receive the funding and centrally manage all the resource teachers.

That concerns Wanda Collins, executive director of Schoolhouse Playcare Centre.

She said the centre has had the same resource teacher for seven years and that continuity fosters close relationships between child, teacher and family.

“We’re happy with the way things are, because this person is part of our community. She’s there to help out in all areas,” Collins said.

She said it's unclear how the new model, called the consultative collaborative method, would work.   

"I'm unsure of how resource teachers are going to be delegated," she said. "Who are we going to get?  Are we going to get the same resource teacher, only she'll be housed ... someplace different? We really don't have any view of what this looks like."

The head of Footsteps Family Centre, Colleen McBain, agreed, adding that the consultative collaborative method had been tried unsuccessfully years before.         

"We've been through the consultative model, we've all worked with that travelling resource teacher," she said. "I think that by far ... having ... a full-time, on-site resource teacher ... we can really attest to the quality and the difference it provides."

The Social Services Administration Board confirmed it had tried the model before, but said it had not worked the way it was supposed to. Although it's too early to say exactly how it will function, the problems have been rectified, said spokesperson Terry Flaherty. 

"The only change would be the resource teacher's not employed directly by that centre any longer, they'd be employed by a third-party provider," Flaherty said. "That person would go into the centre and provide care to the child."

“It's the best way to provide continuous quality care to the most number of children,” he added. 

The board said that most jurisdictions [about 45] have moved to this consultative collaborative model. 

Social Services Administration Board chief administrative officer Bill Bradica said the change does not represent a significant decrease in special needs funding.  

"The board approved $1.5 million in funding for special needs with the 2014 budget for the District of Thunder Bay,” Bradica said. "This is a slight decrease from the $1.537 million that was approved for 2013. The method of service delivery is what will change, likely starting in January 2015.”

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