June 21, 2017
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) continued to press for action to reduce violent incidents in schools by calling on the government to increase front line supports this September for children with behavioural challenges.
"At the elementary school level, our students and educators urgently need an infusion of front line supports in September to improve working and learning conditions in classrooms," said ETFO President Sam Hammond. "Students exhibiting behavioural challenges must have earlier and better access to school supports. The sooner they get those, the sooner they can experience success as part of their school day."
"These school supports include educational assistants, child and youth workers, social workers, school support counselors, school board psychologists and other professionals."
ETFO was joined at a media conference today by parents and representatives of Children's Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) and the Ontario Autism Coalition. "When kids who are struggling receive timely, high quality treatment, they can grow up mentally healthy," said CMHO CEO Kimberly Moran. "Some Ontario children are waiting more than a year and a half for long-term therapy. Children's mental health and behavioural issues do not stop at school. An immediate increase in mental health supports is needed in the classroom and at children's mental health centres in their community for the best possible outcome."
The urgent need for more front-line supports in public elementary schools follows ETFO's call to action to address violent incidents in schools issued in January of this year. Among its recommendations, ETFO called for the government to provide adequate funding for special needs, pursue a comprehensive approach to children's mental health in schools and support school boards with legislative and policy requirements for health and safety including reporting procedures for violent incidents.
"We appreciate that the government has made recent investments for Special Needs Funding and is working with ETFO and others on the common goal of safe and healthy schools. For September, it needs to find the funding for more front-line support services in schools and ensure that any new funding is dedicated to that purpose," added Hammond.
ETFO is asking parents and families to take action at www.buildingbetterschools.ca and send a letter to the Ontario Minister of Education. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 78,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.