Special education services have been part of the core function and funding of UJA Federation’s support of Jewish education for the past 50 years. For many years, UJA Federation funding for psycho-educational programs, remediation services, and social work services have been directed to JVS Toronto and JF&CS, 2 UJA Beneficiary agencies that are partnered with schools for the delivery of services.
This support has led directly to a number of improvements in instructional and collaborative practices across General and Judaic Studies for students with special needs.
In 2012, UJA Federation’s Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education convened a Special Education Advisory Committee, with the purpose of reviewing existing special education programming, while developing a community plan on special education in Jewish Day Schools, for which they enlisted the support of Dr. Lindy Zaretsky. This report helped to clarify the best methods to effectively allocate available funds in the area of special needs education.
As a first measure, in 2014/15 the Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education is funding a process of reviewing Individual Education Plans (IEP) in the affiliated-funded Jewish day schools. On Tuesday Sept 15th, over 40 special education representatives from 13 Jewish Day Schools attend a workshop at TanenabumCHAT Wallenberg Campus facilitated by Dr. Zaretsky and Louise Moreau, leading Ontario special education experts to:
• assist schools in reviewing their Individual Education Plans
• establish recommendations for a funding structure to support students with special education needs
• provide opportunity for schools to improve practices (through professional learning) related to assessment-informed building of learner profiles and identification of supports and services as required.
The IEP Review will provide schools and the Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education with a report on the number of students in a school, placed on a gradated scale based on the level of intervention required. It will also help the Centre determine the scope of funding to schools in future years.