Private school for autism intervention faces threat of closure due to permit problem
Published Monday, July 14, 2014 5:36PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 14, 2014 9:41PM EDT
A private preschool in Montreal West for children with autism is facing possible closure, because the Quebec government says it doesn't have the proper permit to operate.
The Little Red Playhouse caters to children with an autism spectrum disorder, giving them the special attention they need, so they can eventually transition more easily into the public school system.
Parents call the school a godsend.
“It's really been magical. I find the staff here loves what they do. They're caring, they're nurturing and generous with the children and I just haven't looked back,” said parent Kristine Barbara.
Leetal Cuperman said it has made a world of difference to her son.
“He still has some challenges, but most people who meet him would not even really think that he's on the autism spectrum because he's so social, has such great language skills and he's just doing really, really well. Whatever issues he has now are quite mild, so I love this school,” she said.
Government inspectors from Family Quebec, the province’s families ministry, came knocking, however, after the Little Red Playhouse received a complaint that it was operating an illegal daycare.
Founder Sharon McCarry said she met with ministry officials two years ago to explain the mandate of her privately-funded facility and to apply for a permit.
“We're an intervention facility and we're a preschool and we're putting those two things together. What kind of an operating permit do we need for the population that I'm working with?” she said.
Because there's no existing category for her unique facility, McCarry said she's stuck in a bureaucratic maze. Her most recent meeting with ministry officials led to another dead end.
“There are only five exceptions to the law and I do not qualify to be considered as an exception,” she said.
That means the Little Red Playhouse could be shut down, something McCarry can’t fathom.
CTV Montreal contacted the family ministry to explain how the Little Red Playhouse would be able to operate legally - but we were told no one was available for comment Monday.
“I don't get two cents from them, so I don't understand why I can't continue to operate as a private facility,” she said.