TORONTO, July 6, 2016 – Cecile Seymour wasn’t getting the answers she wanted after she was told her 10-year-old son was having behavioural problems at school.
But after a teacher referred her son to a unique inner-city, developmental assessment and support program called the Model Schools Pediatric Health Initiative, Seymour now says she can see some of his issues more clearly.
When all the assessments are completed, she says she wants what every parent wants for their child: “I’m hoping that when he gets all the help he needs, then he’ll be just like a regular kid – where the teachers will see him as the person that he is and not for the behavioural problems he was showing before.”
The program, in association with the Toronto School Board, involves pediatric assessments of children at two in-school clinics in Toronto. Dr. Sloane Freeman, medical lead and founder of the initiative and a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital Inner City Health Program, was recently honoured with a special achievement award from the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario for the early assessment project, helping to promote and enhance the highest quality of health-care delivery to children and youth in the province.
The Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario is an advocate for improved health on behalf of children and youth in Ontario. Dr. Freeman’s award recognizes her contribution to advancing the awareness of the role Ontario pediatricians play in the overall health and well-being of Ontario children and their families.
While a developmental assessment can take up to a year to begin in the general community, the program has dramatically cut down the waiting time for an assessment to a couple of months. “We know that early diagnosis and early intervention make all the difference for these kids,” said Dr. Freeman.
The first of the schools involved in the program opened in 2010 and the second began late last year. Together they have seen more than 850 children, most for developmental, mental health and psychosocial problems.
The two clinics share five doctors over the course of a week — a family doctor, two pediatricians and two developmental pediatricians – and serve a total of about 40 schools. The physicians sit in on team meetings at the student’s school, which also often involve the school psychologist, a social worker, a speech and language pathologist and the principal.
The program’s pediatricians continue to work with the children and their schools to ensure the proper supports and programs are in place in the classroom until they are 18.
St. Michael’s Hospital will soon embark on the next step in the program: a two-year, $800,000 study in hopes of showing the government the importance of early assessments and perhaps have the program expanded.
“The study is examining wait times to developmental assessment, but also educational outcomes to determine if there is a difference between children who can come through our program vs those who are identified with similar needs but have to go through the standard of care in the community to access developmental assessment support,” said Dr. Freeman.
Plans are to expand to a second research site at St. Joseph’s Health Centre during the next academic year.
About the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario
The Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario is the voice for over 1,100 pediatricians in Ontario – the premier experts in prevention, promotion and treatment issues related to children’s health and wellness. www.pedsontario.com.
For further information, please contact:
Robyn Neville-Kett, Executive Administrator
Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario (PAO)