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Kidsability may re-evaluate business model in wake of provincial changes to its autism program

The CEO of Kidsability said they may have to re-evaluate their business model and start charging people for autism-funded services
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The Ontario government has announced it will be giving funding for autism treatment directly to families instead of regional service providers.

In response, Kidsability may have to re-evaluate its business model and start charging people for its autism-funded services.

CEO Linda Kenny said at this point, she is just waiting for more details from the provincial government.

"We understand that there will be a transition process, and the government will be providing us with more detail about that, but it will mean that our autism services will be delivered in a fee-to-service way, which is very different from how we deliver the rest of our services," Kenny said.

She said she is concerned by the amount of questions that have been left unanswered by the provincial government.

"I appreciate that the government is interested in clearing the wait list, but I think our commitment still needs to be to providing high-quality, clinically-sound services to children with autism."

Kenny said Kidsability will continue to serve families the same way until they have more information from the Ontario government.

"Kidsability exists to provide the best-quality services that we can for kids and families and we are going to keep doing that. We will work through the transition process the best way we can."

The Ontario government is also doubling the funding for five diagnostic hubs to $5.5 million a year for the next two years.

They are hoping it will help reduce wait times for 2,400 children on the list, who can currently expect to wait 31 weeks.

Kenny says the decision to shift funding to diagnostic hubs has its positives. 

"We know that that the earlier a child receives his or her diagnosis, the better the chances are for good outcomes down the road. Without an autism diagnosis, you cannot access some of the services and support. For us at Kidsability, it will be a significant shift in how we deliver our services."

In a release Thursday morning, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said "the Ford government is trying to score cheap political points on the backs of families who have children with autism."

Thomas said "Kitchener MPP Amy Fee helped announce the government's terrible scheme to cut and privatize autism services. But just before the announcement, one of her senior staffers quit in protest."

He said autism services are clearly in need of investment, but the government is addressing the waitlist issues by cutting financial support to families, and creating a two-tier system in which only the wealthy families living in big cities will receive service.