Disability Advisory Council On After School Care

June 21, 2016

The Disability Advisory Council is requesting that the Ministry of Social Development and Sports “closely consider” supporting services for children with special needs or disabilities in Youth & Sport after school care.

A spokesperson said, “While we as a community should encourage citizens to be upfront about their impairments or disabilities or children’s impairments or disabilities so we can help them, we discourage citizen and parents from not fully disclosing due to fear of being discriminated against for services.

“The Youth & Sport website boasts a philosophy and many goals, those being a program that exists to meet the needs of parents/guardians and children, in the community during the school year from Monday to Friday from 3:30pm to 5:45pm.

“Primary school-aged children are exposed to a variety of sport and recreational activities that will contribute to their physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth and development.

“Are we now being selective to what parents, guardians and children in the public sector community we are meeting the needs of?

“Let us not forget if Bermuda’s own Paralympian Jessica Lewis was not given the opportunity and access to sporting and recreational programs she may not have reached the level she has today.

“And if the goals are as follows, surely they don’t exclude children with special needs as they are children no matter what:

  • 1. To provide child care services at an affordable price
  • 2. To provide a safe place for children during the hours of 3:30pm and 5:45pm weekdays during the school term
  • 3. To expose children to a wide variety of sport and recreational activities
  • 4. To enhance and teach new sport and recreational skills to children
  • 5. To provide a positive environment for children
  • 6. To encourage multicultural activities
  • 7. To offer a range of activities and experiences so as to provide children with choices
  • 8. To utilize government school facilities during after school hours for the purpose of providing ASP services
  • 9. To ensure a high level of competency in all staff
  • 10. To try and maintain a small group ratio of 1:10, care provider to children
  • 11. To decrease the number of children that are unsupervised and inactive during after school hours from 3:30pm – 5:45pm

“And if one of the goals is to have a high level of competency in all staff, then surely we can provide competent staff for children with disabilities.

“The Disability Advisory Council supports all parents who have fought for after school care in the public system for their special needs child.

“We applaud Mr. Earl Basden & family on the public advocacy for his daughter with Autism to have access to after school care with a government service such as Youth & Sport.

“A public system who speaks of inclusiveness but is not fully inclusive and it would seem treating a person with a disability less favorably than they would treat other persons generally.

“We would request close examination of the Human Rights Act 1981 as discrimination in the provision of services by refusing or deliberately omitting to provide like quality, in the manner and on the like terms in and on which the former normally makes them available to other members of the public.

“Selective admission into after school care or limitations of public after school services which has been an issue for a long time for many special needs students who attend public school or programs. After school care is needed in our community for working parents and a public service should be inclusive of all.

“A 1:1 person/ child ratio may not always be necessary for a special needs child particularly if the Youth and Sports Program makes an effort to hire staff and/or train staff who are willing to work with children with special needs. And if 1:1 support is deemed necessary after assessment Youth and Sport or Government should provide support.

“The Disability Advisory Council are requesting inclusion, dignity and equality for persons with disabilities.”

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