KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Children as young as two years should not be segregated from their families and their community, says Patricia Neves, Acting Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Association for Community Living (NSACL).
The CBC, in a glowing article, reports that construction has started in Sydney River on a building that will house four children between the ages of two and 18 who are Autistic or living with intellectual disabilities. The building will be run by the Breton Ability Centre. The province is paying $1.2 million for the construction, while the Cape Breton Regional Municipality donated the land, the CBC reports.
“The way that we’re looking at it, regardless of whether there’s four residents or 40 or 400, you’re taking children away from their families. What the press release says is that it will house children from two to 18 years old. No two year old should be removed from their family. No parent wants to have their child sent to live somewhere else, they will only agree when there are no alternatives provided,” says Neves, who was surprised by the announcement.
That $1.2 million is strictly for the infrastructure for the building, that’s not even the cost of providing the services once it’s up and running. I’m certain that with that $1.2 million they could provide services and supports to those families at their homes, Neves says.
The NSACL and similar groups have been telling the province to build more small option homes and move the 500 or so Nova Scotians still held in large institutions into the community.
“We absolutely want the province to construct more homes for adults who choose to live together, where everyone has their own bedroom and personal space, with the support they need. We would be shouting from the rooftops. But not for two year olds, and not not for children,” Neves says.
The Breton Ability Centre is one of the largest institutions for people labelled as living with developmental disabilities in Nova Scotia. About 115 people reside at the Centre.
The Breton Ability Centre’s licence was suspended because of physical abuse of a 20-year-old resident that occurred in 2010. In response to a Freedom of Information response I submitted in 2015 to the Department of Community Services revealed the occurrence of 10 proven cases of abuse at the Breton Centre between 2012 and 2015. Management says that things have much improved since then.
For the people who have been fighting for community living options and deinstitutionalization the government’s announcement is another sign that the so-called roadmap, a formal plan to provide suitable community living opportunities for all, has now been definitively abandoned by the government.
“Families desperately need support so their families can stay together, they need the appropriate guidance and resources to keep their children home. We urge the Nova Scotia government to allocate funds to provide these community-based services to help families, health care providers, and to raise the community’s awareness. All children deserve to live with their family and NSACL is committed to ensuring people with intellectual disabilities are not forgotten,” a press release issued by the NSACL states.
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