Parents Worry DOE Is Slashing Autism Services - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Parents Worry DOE Is Slashing Autism Services

Kalma Wong Kalma Wong
Paul Ban Paul Ban

By: Darren Pai

(KHNL) - Dylan wong will be seven in January. But he had a good day on Wednesday, so that's reason enough for his family to celebrate.

His mother, Kalma, has two autistic children. She needs to take extra steps to make sure they remain safe at home.

"We have to make sure everything is safe and secure so we have to bolt all the heavy pieces of furniture to the wall," she said.

But Kalma said the good days could be scarce in the future. She worries a new state contract for the therapists who help her son will actually cut his services. The new contract, critics said, will offer service providers less money.

"There's going to be mass exodus of qualified workers," she said. "Qualified therapists, qualified one-on-one workers, they're going to leave the profession because they're going to get a pay cut."

The Department of Education said its trying to keep its costs under control.

"We are attempting to standardize our rates to be more fiscally responsible of the dollars that we have within the department to provide services to all kids," said Paul Ban of the DOE.

The DOE said students like Dylan won't lose services.

"It really is about looking at how do we ensure appropriate coverage for all students who need in this case behavioral health services," Ban said.

But Kalma Wong said the DOE's plan won't work because each child has different requirements.

"You can't put a cap on services especially when a child's needs are so individualized," she said.

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