Late penalty impacting family
Woman says autistic son’s daycare spot in jeopardy because DSWs leave if she is late in morning
Britinay Wheeler is worried her five-year-old autistic child will lose his space in daycare because developmental support workers are leaving if the family is late in the morning.
“The current issue we’re now running into is if we get there late, the worker is gone and will not return,” said the Chatham woman and mother of three.
“Now, not only are they leaving if we’re late, they are also leaving earlier than I have scheduled them for,” she added.
Wheeler said it has become an issue at the daycare centre where her child, Maurice, attends because the centre has informed the family he could lose his spot.
A letter Wheeler and her partner Mike Makarich provided to The Chatham Daily News from YMCA Child Care stated in part: “It is our policy that a child receiving extra support in our programs will always have that extra support worker from Chatham Kent Children’s Services with the child at all times. If this is not possible the parent will have to make other arrangements like leaving work early or being absent from work to be able to pick the child up.”
The letter also notes there have been times in the past that the support worker cannot stay past the allotted time, which is usually 5 p.m. They have also had to cancel support for Maurice, so his mother has had to make arrangements to pick him up or make other arrangements to care for him after school.
Shamila Tabe-Mohammadi, supervisor of developmental support services, said the family is constantly between 15 minutes to half an hour late, so a DSW is “basically sitting there doing nothing when we have over 40-50 kids on a waiting list.”
She said there is simply not even enough DSWs to meet the demand for services so, if someone is late, the worker will leave to go provide support to another child.
“We don’t have enough staff and we provide services when we have the staff available,” Tabe-Mohammadi said. “That’s a waste of the taxpayers money for staff to sit there and get paid and basically not be doing their job.”
She added the family has been notified by letter, email and through telephone calls regarding the issue of constant lateness.
Wheeler said the challenge she faces is dealing with an autistic child who often has temper tantrums or even strips off his clothing, which makes it difficult to get out the door on time in the morning so he can be at daycare by 7:30 a.m.
Wheeler also claims the DSW will leave before she arrives from work later in the morning to take Maurice to an intensive behaviourial intervention program for 9 a.m. four days a week. She said Maurice, who is non-verbal, has only been in the program since the beginning of October, but he is already showing improvement by using his sign language skills more often.
She said workers are leaving at 8:45 a.m., “which is causing the daycare to have to pull administration staff from office duties to stay with (Maurice).”
Wheeler, who works full time for a local call centre, said she can’t give up her job.
“We wouldn’t be able to survive financially because I’m the main income (earner) in the household.”
Tabe-Mohammadi refuted any claim by Wheeler that workers are leaving early. “They cannot leave early; they have never left early,” she said.
In fact, Tabe-Mohammadi said since the family began receiving DSW services, the family changed their request for services, which was accommodated.
She added the family is not facing any cancellation of DSW service, only that “if they don’t arrive on time, the staff will leave.”
Britinay Wheeler is concerned her autistic son Maurice, 5, will lose his spot in daycare because developmental service workers assigned to work with him will leave if she is late getting him to the centre on time in the morning.