Canada adopts a very comprehensive approach to children who have disabilities and special needs in the context of their rights, such as in education and healthcare. Children with special needs are provided with free public education in Canada. The law in Canada requires that schools in each province should have a programme for special education. Unfortunately, this is impossible in all schools, and therefore, parents might have to sign up their child for private special needs schools. Even though some provinces provide 100% funding for children to have education in these schools, this could be problematic for other parents because of the costs.
How Enrolling a Child As Having Special Needs in a School Works?
Since each province and policies have their regulations , the enrollment process may differ in each territory. Usually, the Education Act is present in most provinces, where the policy for special educational needs is listed and written in detail. Generally, children with special needs are provided with a programme with both mainstream education and a customized personal educational programme. Therefore, it is important to communicate with the school board about your child and their special needs right before the enrollment process so that a customized personal, educational programme could be organized.
Provincial Programmes and Their Benefits in Canada
Although each province has its regulations regarding special needs services, there are many commonalities between them. Below, you can find the information for each province .
Ontario is very supportive in terms of providing special needs programs for children with special needs. For instance, the “Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Programme” provides parents with C$470 per month to help them pay the costs related to essential equipment and services for their child’s needs. However, the amount of money provided depends on the parents’ income and what type of disability the child has. The province also provides rehabilitative, respite services, and special assistance at home. Additionally, while some children still have mainstream education, they are also provided with individualized classes designed for their specific needs.
British Columbia The responsibility to provide programmes and services to children with special needs is on the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). Respite care, including family support, parental support, child and youth worker assistance, behavioral programmes, rehabilitative care, early childhood treatments, are provided. There are approximately 59,000 children with special needs in British Columbia registered in public schools. These children receive classroom assistants, individualized educational plans, and customized programs to address their specific needs. Also, children with special needs are provided with 100% funding to help them attend special independent schools.
Alberta Like other provinces, children with special needs are allocated to mainstream schools to receive further assistance and an individualized education programme. The funding is usually present to schools, which directly helps children with special needs. Also, financial support for the services like respite, rehabilitative care, counseling, home, and medical assistance is given by the Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD).
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Nova Scotia offers children with special needs a programme called Supported Child Care for Children with Special Needs. With these programmes, full and part-time childcare centers are provided with financial support to present specific programmes and care to children with special needs to help them get the individualized plan they need. Also, children with special needs could receive support from The Early Intervention Programme (EIP), other than the former programme. Additionally, the province has a specific educational plan called Individualized Programme Plan (IPP) for children who seem to have special educational needs.
Quebec Children with special needs are offered Individualized Education Plans (IEP), receiving education from mainstream schools. To register in IEP, parents, and students should see the teachers, the principal, and a guidance counselor, right before enrolling in the school. Students who have disabilities have the right to attend school until the age of 21. Also, Quebec provides special needs education allowance to parents with special needs’ children. Mainly, the program is designed to enable the child to receive the material resources needed at home to continue his or her learning so that it helps to remove the limitations of doing certain tasks at home for children with special needs.
Universal Benefits Child Disability Benefits also provides tax-free financial support to parents of children with severe disabilities who are younger than 18 years of age. The benefit offered is dependent on the parents’ income and could be up to $2,694 per year. If you consider applying for the benefits, you can do it online at the Canada Revenue Agency website. If you prefer to apply in person, you can go to the Local Ministry or Departments of Social Services. Also, people above 18 could benefit from the program as well.
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