JMCC Preschool In Fear of Closing
So I am finally sitting here writing this post that I have been wishing and patiently waiting to share with you all for months. MONTHS!!!! There are tears in my eyes. It has been a long ride on the advocating train. It's time you all knew.
Please LOCAL WINDSOR peeps, PLEEEEEEEASE READ THIS POST!!!!
I mentioned a while ago that we were busy working on something that was going to hopefully benefit the children of this local community that have special needs. It has all been hush, hush up until now. We have been trying to respect the process and people along the way. We have been trying to do everything the "right" way, giving everyone a fair chance to join our cause and try and help us advocate for our children. Some of the individuals that we have talked to have made this process the most difficult that they could have possibly made it. On the other hand, some of the city counselors have been an amazing support to our children by joining with us and providing us with their time, advice and kind thoughts about where they think we stand. However, we have been patient enough. Now it is time to tell you fine people what has been in the works for over 3 years. We have been actively involved for well over a year.
We have a center in Windsor called the John McGivney Children's Center. This is the center where Hazel has been receiving her Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Speech Therapy from the very beginning. It is a rehabilitation center. Within this center there is a city-funded preschool. It is not the same as the rehab center but they operate in conjunction with the rehab center. Therapists have the ability to visit their clients while they are in the preschool program, as the preschool is in the same building.
The system as a whole is brilliant. Children have access to a fully inclusionary environment with children with special needs, as well as typically developing children. They have access to any equipment that the rehab center is in possession of. They have a skilled extremely knowledgable and confident staff. Staff that can and will be able to handle with 100% confidence ANY special need your child may have - NO matter the medical complexity of the child. These children have access to their therapists that have been working with them to allow for continuity of care for each child. There is an incredible amount of flexibility with the sessions that your child may have with their therapist seeing as they are on site and often just pop in on your child to do a quick session with them in an environment that they are familiar with.
Honestly, I am not sure what else to say. This place is THE PLACE for children to go to meet their FULL POTENTIAL. Hazel MUST go here!!!
Changes to the funding model implemented by the Ministry of Education has left the JMCC preschool underfunded and therefore the program WILL DEFINITELY CLOSE if nothing done before September of 2015. Daily fees have risen from $35 to $75 per day per child as a consequence of this change and therefore parents and families can NO LONGER afford to send their children to this center. Families are faced with a very difficult choice of finding alternate childcare or are quitting their jobs to stay home with their children who have special needs and complex special needs.
The JMCC preschool program is very capable of providing an enriched early learning program that helps children reach their full potential. A place they can grow, where they are included and their individual needs are met. An environment where the typical children provide a model of behaviour, while at the same time become compassionate, tolerant and accepting individuals. The JMCC has been servicing children with special needs as well as typically developing children for 30 years. The program makes sense. The staff is qualified, patient, skilled and experienced. The preschool is in the same building as the JMCC rehabilitation center and therefore allows EASY access to the child's therapists.
Despite their best efforts, other community daycare centers are not equipped to handle our children. They do try their very best when given the opportunity to work with our children. The high student to teacher ratio of 1:8 makes it nearly impossible for our children to get the care and attention they NEED to grow. The staff is not equipped with strategies or necessary equipment to manage our children’s needs. Children’s First is offered as a solution to this, but their services are of a “consultative” nature and they do not provide hands on instruction or therapy to our children. Services offered by Children’s First are limited at BEST. This is by NO MEANS a personal attack on the individuals that work for Children's First. They are doing the best they can with the resources that are provided to them. They have certainly helped many individuals in our community with special needs. It's just that the JMCC is fully stocked with the experience, knowledge, resources, equipment and access to therapists.
We would like the City of Windsor to step in and provide bridge funding for the program until a proper capacity assessment can be done of the other childcare facilities in the city to see exactly how capable, ready and willing they are to provide an enriched learning environment to children with special needs and complex special needs.
Previous meetings and requests with the city have accomplished little. As it stands some of the city administrators refuse to acknowledge the JMCC preschool program as a specialized program and therefore cannot justify giving more funding to them than the other centers in the city. On the other hand, we have had some of the city counselors, Bill Marra, provide us with tremendous support and advice, for this we are extremely thankful.
A group of parents, along with the JMCC, will sign up as delegates for the next city counsel meeting. We plan on addressing the mayor and all the city counselors to share our experiences and concerns about our community losing this program. Our hope is to educate them as to how important this program is and how it would be detrimental to close it after 30 years. This program is how we give the most vulnerable children a good quality of life starting at the beginning.
Time & Place of the Meeting:
TB - Possibly May 19th
What you can do?
Come to City Hall the night of the meeting to show your support for this program. We are trying to send a message that this program and service is important to the members of this community. It is important for our children to have a place where early learning and early intervention are of utmost importance.
Please note: SIGNS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED