The Ministry of Health and the Minister for Disability Issues have both denied a reduction in funding for IDEA Services led to cuts of support programmes for people with Autism.
Tony Atkinson, Disability Support Services Group Manager, rejected claims of funding reductions leading to IDEA Services pulling out of providing three programmes that support and educate people in the ASD community.
“There has been no reduction or cut in funding to IDEA Services”, Atkinson said.
The Ministry and IDEA Services want to limit disruption and the gaps between the end of one service and the beginning of other ones. Atkinson says that alternative arrangements for affected services are being worked through.
Just what those other services will be, and how accommodating they are to the thousands of people in the ASD community remains to be seen.
Aside from the thousands due to be affected by the cuts announced via a letter distributed from IDEA Services on Tuesday, many more are still on waiting lists as well. In the letter, IDEA pointed to an underfunding of $500,000 in the 2015/16 financial year as a big factor in their decision to cease continuation of three ASD programmes.
After negotiations with the Ministry of Health, a new contract was not signed. Atkinson says that the Ministry will be seeking alternate providers to continue services for ASD clients and also the others affected by home care and facility based respite cuts.
The Minister for Disability Issues palmed off suggestions of reductions and cuts also. When contacted by this blog, Nicky Wagner says she had no knowledge of the letter sent out by IDEA Services and questioned some of the quotes published on this blog.
“I haven’t seen this letter but nothing you quote is correct”, Wagner said.
Yesterday, the Minister announced the members selected onto a co-design group that will be tasked with transforming disability supports. Some concerns have been raised by members of the ASD community about their representation on the group.
Gabrielle Hogg is advocate for people on the Autism spectrum and says that a lack of representation goes against a call from the United Nations to have people with Autism in decision making roles on Government advisory committees.
Hogg says that she is very concerned that people on the spectrum are being ignored.
“Autistic individuals feel very much locked out from having direct feedback with being on the group”, Hogg said.
More to come.