Three years later special needs children are still marginalized by the Government of Saint Lucia, special needs children's allowance was cut from $110 to $78 putting additional pressure on poor families to provide for their special needs children. Disposible diapers and wipes are extremely expensive on island as it attracts high importation fees, while the government has cut funding it has implemented no politics to provide relief.
While our funding goals fell short this year we still continued to support eleven (11) special needs children our of a total of forty two families who contacted us for support, providing disposible diapers, wipes, chucks and non perishable foods.
We are working to get core funding so we may better support special needs children by including them in our work program and making them a more visible part of our mission and goals.
We continue to hope that locals will step up and contribute to supporting special needs children from poor marginalized families in 2020.
Children with special needs and disabilities are being marginalised by mainstream schools in Saint Lucia as the system does not incentivise educators to be inclusive, if a parent wants their child to be in public school she needs to have the resources to hire a full time baby sitter to remain with the child at all times during school hours.
The government is misjudging the financial impact of allowing class teachers to determine if a special needs child will be allowed in the class room or a head teacher to allow a special needs child into the school. With rising numbers of pupils with special needs unable to be accommodated in mainstream schools and very little being taught in the two special needs centers on island, special needs children who are gifted are being marginalized for being different by the entire system.
“Stakeholders i.e parents need to raise concerns that the demand for special school places is growing but the system incentivises mainstream infant, primary and secondary schools to be less inclusive,”
“Poor parents are expected to cover the cost of school baby sitters and the financial pressures can make them reluctant to admit or keep pupils in school" one parent told us. “Another barrier is that the perception by teachers and principals are that schools with high numbers of children with special needs may also appear to perform less well against performance metrics.”
“While the Government via the Ministry of Education and Social Justice will say we have improved special educational needs support to put families at the heart of the system and give them better choices in their children’s education, whether in mainstream or special school,” speaking with parents of special needs children this appears to be a non existent policy.
We therefore advocate strongly that parents with special needs children be given the same opportunities to choose a school of their choice for their children's education and that the government provide the necessary resources so special needs children can be educated in mainstream education.
“We hear awful stories every day of autistic children who are being held back from getting the education they deserve because schools don’t understand or can’t meet their needs or parents cannot afford special needs assessments. This can be devastating for them and their families, and mean they lose all faith in the system.
We continue to ask for your donation to support children by providing special needs assessments to give special needs children of poor marginalized parents a chance to get an education.
Our work with children and their families is centered on providing the mimimum assistance because of limited resources i.e. disposibles - diapers, wipes, non perishable foods, assessments to ensure those who can attend mainstream education ae allowed to do so and those who can attend specialized educationl centers are given an opportunity as well.
What special needs children really need is to ensure every child/young/person with special needs have is independence and is included and to help them develop life skills, such as -
Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Children with special needs required the same things others take for granted such as
accessing community facilities
Life would have been extremely difficult, in fact could have resulted in parents of special needs children having them in very unsanitory and unhealth situation without the help we have received so from our donors and supporters.
Your continued assistance is critical to help us achieve our goals for special needs children i.e -
Raise public awareness on the challenges special needs children and by extentsion special needs persons face, both financially and culturally where special needs persons are just put in a corner and wait for them to die eventually.
Influence society to advocate with us to intorduce improve policies and access for special needs persons
Work with family , community and other local partners to develop strong networks to protect the rights of special needs persons
Support the growth and development of solutions for families, especially preventative and early intervention services to provide a path for self sufficiency for special needs persons.
Two years ago the government of Saint Lucia terminated the health assessment for special needs children, this assessment is necessary to make a critical evaluation of children who have special need to understand if they should be in mainstream educational institutions, we advocated for the reinstatement of the program however the Govt has never reinstated the specialists, instead they appointed a pediatrician who works at a public health institution without the necessary technical expertise and a language barrier and its been downhill from there for parents of special needs children who are unemployed or are underemployed because they need to provide care and protection to their special needs children.
Our appeal for assistance for vulnerable, poor and marginalized families with special needs children continues, we provide disposables and food items however the funding has not been able to provide the level of support required i.e. disposible, non perishables and medical assessment for all who require, the level of support has been to limited number of persons.
We get numerous call for assistance on a daily basis, we cannot do it alone and we continue to request assistance from donors so we may assist those who cannot assist themselves in this times.
While we have not raised any funding via our global giving platform for special needs children we continue to support with inkind donations from people who support our organisation from the USA.
We supply disposible pampers, wipes and non perishable items to a limited number of children and pay for assessment fees for those who their parents are not able and they need to attend school.
Many special needs children and their families because of their economic status i.e. marginalized and vulnerable are without the required support from state agencies because of budget cuts, they are discriminated on within the public education system and parents spend lots of time battling to security the right to meet their children's needs outside of the home.
The system for supporting children and young people with special needs is verging on crisis. Against a backdrop of increasing cuts to agency budgets, parents are having to deal with poor decision making on the part of government employees which frequently stems from a lack of understanding that all children regardless of their disabilities are citizens who deserve the same rights as everyone else
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