CROM needs sustainable funding

Centre de réadaptation de l’Ouest de Montréal launches petition for help 

By Kevin Woodhouse

“We launched this campaign because the voices of these forgotten children need to be heard,” said Courtney Lai-Hing, member of CROM’s Parents Executive Committee.

The committee has launched a petition in the National Assembly last week that was tabled by Jacques-Cartier MNA Geoffrey Kelley who also praised the agency’s work despite budget cutbacks. Kelley noted to his colleagues that “since 2002, cases of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) has augmented by 600 percent” and that sustainable funding will be the key to success, particularly for children aged three to six as early diagnosis of autism and treatment can play a role in a child’s success.

The petition is asking the government to help more than 500 children who are on a waiting list for services as well as upgrading funding levels of $12.2 million to handle the “Forgotten 500”.

“We have been listening to the heart-breaking stories of families who have been waiting years for services,” said Hai-Ling. “The average waiting time is two years, but 84 users have been on the list since 2007. Meanwhile, they are left helpless. This backlog is a direct result of CROM’s chronic underfunding.”

“Over the last 15 to 20 years, government cutbacks has now given CROM a backlog of 500 families,” Hai-Ling told The Suburban. “A recent auditor’s report that the $12.2 million is needed to get rid of the backlog before services can be improved across the board.”

Due to the current two year waiting list, many children at the target age of intervention could miss the opportunity for public services, forcing them to go outside of the system for expensive services, as much as $40,000 per child every year.

“As we have been speaking to families of these ‘forgotten children’ we have realized that although their stories vary, they all share some basic commonalities,” said CROM parents’ committee president Carole Mercier. “First and foremost, the parents know that their child has a small window of opportunity to receive the treatment that will give them the best chance for a successful and fulfilling future. They also know however that they cannot do it alone. They desperately need the government’s support.”

Donny Prashker, who worked for CROM, knows all too well the private costs associated with treating children with ASD as he spends roughly “$600-$700 every week for my daughter’s services that can include therapists and experts in the field. You find a way to handle the expenses because it is your child’s future.

“I took a leave of absence and started by own business to cover the costs of private care. Currently, my daughter is seeing four different specialists. My wife and I are the liaison. I know the difference that CROM’s care can make; they offer a multidisciplinary team working towards the best care of my daughter,” said Prashker.

To find out more about the “Forgotten 500”, consult their Facebook page at
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