Late penalty im­pact­ing fam­ily

Woman says autis­tic son’s day­care spot in jeop­ardy be­cause DSWs leave if she is late in morn­ing

The Chatham Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - ELLWOOD SHREVE

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.”

ELLWOOD SHREVE/THE DAILY NEWS

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.

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