Thursday, June 3, 2010

Benchmark Independent Evaluation is not the Issue

Andrea Horwath, leader of Ontario's New Democratic Party (NDP) has issued a press release on the validity of the independent review of the IBI Benchmarks by Dr. Louise LaRose.  She was paid $118,000 for this review and it was "sole sourced" - or awarded without a competitive RFP process.

Ms. Horwath is claiming the review needs to be re-done to be completely unbiased.  Personally I think Dr. LaRose was probably professionally able to do this review in an unbiased manner, and I think the real issue is whether or not the benchmarks make any sense.

The nine regional autism providers in Ontario all have their own "benchmark" criteria for continuing in IBI (intensive ABA therapy), excluding the one they started as RAPON several years ago.  ErinOak Kids has a continuation criteria document that looks a lot like the benchmarks but they do not call it that.  In fact, at TVCC, staff are forbidden from discussing the benchmarks, period.

The benchmarks have been out for at least two years and there are no signs they are being implemented forcibly by the MCYS.  I think the hope is that the benchmarks die quietly in bureaucracy while giving the autism programs free reign in deciding when discharge should occur.  All of the recent court cases have not been won by the complaining parent, so legally they know the challenges will die slowly but surely as the precedent is set.

My hat's off to Ms. Horwath for keeping the government's feet to the fire on autism funding, even if I think she is asking the wrong question.  I might even vote NDP - for the first time ever - in the next election.

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