TORONTO — Zareinu Educational Centre of Metropolitan Toronto will be part of a provincial study that will assess agencies that help children with developmental challenges.
The study, being conducted by the Whetstone Group consultancy under the direction of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, is slated to begin later this month.
It “will be used to inform policy and program development for children and youth with special needs” said ministry spokesperson Courtney Battistone.
She added that the other two organizations in the study “are yet to be confirmed” and that “there is no plan for additional partnerships with or additional funding for any of the organizations being reviewed.”
Zareinu receives assistance from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, and also raises money through numerous charitable initiatives.
Mitch Parker, Zareinu’s clinical director, told The CJN the study will help Zareinu gather essential data on how well it is delivering service to its clients.
Reached by phone on vacation in Michigan, he said the study would help evaluate “the quality and efficacy of our services and then report back to the government.”
He said that at this point, he isn’t sure how the government plans to use the results or whether they might translate into more provincial funding for Zareinu.
Parker said he received word in June that the province had tabbed his organization to be included in the study. The province has been talking about conducting a study for the last few years, he said.
“We’d been having repeated meetings with members of various ministries about trying to put Zareinu on the [province’s] radar screen,” he said. “As a result, the government seems to have heard us and are going to take a look.”
For its part, the province says it’s looking into how to help institutions such as Zareinu better deliver specialized education and services to children and youth with developmental challenges.
“The study will look at how these agencies delivered services in an integrated and multidisciplinary way,” Battistone said.
She added that the ministry will “examine in detail organizations in Ontario that specialize in co-ordinated and integrated programs for children and youth with special needs in an educational setting; include an inter-jurisdictional and literature review summarizing co-ordinated and integrated service plans for children and youth with special needs in an educational setting that are relevant to Ontario, and then recommend how outcomes for children and their parents receiving integrated multidisciplinary services in a school setting could be best measured for potential future application to program evaluation and research.”
The study should be submitted to the ministry next spring.
Parker said Zareinu is indebted to former Canadian Jewish Congress CEO and provincial Liberal candidate for Thornhill Bernie Farber for helping connect the institution with “contacts at the ministry.”
Farber is a longtime supporter of the school.
Zareinu provides therapy and special education to children with a wide range of physical and developmental challenges from birth to 21 years in a Jewish environment.
For more information, visit http://zareinu.org/.