Families who have children at risk of developmental delays will get the support they need sooner as a result of the early intervention program review. Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey announced January 20th, the government will address four key areas of early intervention to improve services to children and their families.
The four areas are:
-- improving access to early intervention for families
-- strengthening early intervention programs across the province
-- supporting and developing the early intervention workforce
-- aligning early intervention programs with the early years system and the public school system
Early intervention programs in Nova Scotia deliver services for young children who are diagnosed with, or are at risk of, developmental delay. The services are designed to help both the child and the family from the time the child is born, to when they are old enough to enter school. The programs also help parents access the resources they need to assist their children.
The improvements begin immediately. The government will start by hiring new early interventionists to help address the heaviest waitlists. There are more than 300 children waiting for services. "With this new approach and these actions, government is following through with its promise to increase support for early intervention programs across Nova Scotia and addressing the waitlist some families are experiencing," said Ms. Casey. "Adding more early interventionists is only the beginning.
"Over the next three years we will improve how early intervention programs work in Nova Scotia to make sure that our children and their families are receiving the support they need, when they need it and in their local community." The department also plans to work with First Nations, African Nova Scotians, Acadian and immigrant communities to ensure they are aware of the services that are available. By working with local service providers, children will be referred as early as possible so they receive the services they need, when they need them.
Over the next few weeks, a team appointed by the minister will be developing a recommendation for a new governance structure. The new structure will work to more closely align early intervention programs with the early years system and the public school system and ensure consistency of services across the province. Once the new structure is in place, the department will provide funding to help address low wages for early interventionists. The Early Intervention Program Review: Recommendations and Actions, can be found at www.novascotia.ca/education.
Karen Casey, MLA
Minister of Education & Early Childhood Development