In New Zealand, the government spends a large amount of money supporting children with hearing issues. However there is very little information and understanding about where this money goes, how it is used and whether it is being used wisely.
This article brings together information gathered in the public domain and information acquired from van Asch Deaf Education Centre under the Official Information Act to look at just how much funding a child with Cochlear Implants receives.
When a child receives Cochlear Implants the journey just begins. Children need varying degrees of intensive therapy and varying degrees of support in their educational setting. Between the ages of 0-3yo this therapy and support is provided by the Cochlear Implant programmes’ habilitationists and the Ministry of Education’s Special Education Group (principally Advisors of Deaf Children and Speech Language Therapists). When a child turns 3yo and they are in an educational setting, they are able to access additional support from the Deaf Education Centre’s (DEC) Resource Teachers of the Deaf (RTD) service. Children can also access additional in-class support through Educational Support Workers (in pre-schools) and Teacher Aids (in schools).
One of the mechanisms for providing this resourcing is the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). ORS provides funding for either 0.1 or 0.2 of a teaching resource, depending on need, as well as some additional sundry costs to school aged children (5-18yo). Typically a family applies for ORS prior to their child starting at school. Once verified as eligible, ORS funding continues until the child leaves school. It is not reviewable. All children with Cochlear Implants are eligible for ORS under criteria 6.1. Many parents however have been incorrectly told their child is not eligible for ORS.
The ORS funding goes to the DEC by default or to the child’s school if parents request it. The process of moving funding is not well known about and is difficult to achieve.
There are three groups of children with Cochlear Implants in terms of therapy and support costs:
- Ages 0-3yo
- Ages 3-5yo in pre-school
- School aged
For simplicity’s sake we will focus on school aged children (5-18yo) who are still in need of significant support and are high needs ORS verified.
There are four sources of funding for such a school aged child with Cochlear Implants:
The Cochlear Implant programmes are funded for 4 habilitationists each. This is approximated $760,000 nationally and includes salaries and operating costs. Given the numbers of numbers of children and the mix of children just being monitored verses children having active therapy, this works out to be in the order of $6-8,000pa for a child receiving active therapy.
ORS Teacher funding
A 0.1 FTE ORS teacher allocation is worth approximately $10.500pa.
An analysis and allocation of the DECs accounts is included here – OIA Analysis. It shows that DECs are funded approximately $9,000pa for each Cochlear Implant child. This does not include the cost of capital.
All ORS eligible children are assessed against a Teacher Aid funding assessment tool. A child who still needs support is likely to attract Teacher Aid funding of approximately $4,500-$8,000pa.
Adding this all up comes to $30,000pa as a minimum. This could be more if the child has additional issues over and above their hearing issues.
This does not include the costs inside the Ministry of Education. Every child with a hearing loss is assigned an Advisor of Deaf Children (AoDC) for instance. There are also additional small or one off funding accessible for items like the ORS sundry allowance and FM systems.
It is fantastic that this level of funding is available. In fact we could go as far as to say that the ‘deaf education sector’ in general is well funded.
Over next few weeks we will look at how this funding is being used. For instance, is it all used for the children its allocated too? Or has it been used for other children? Has some of it not been used? Is it being used in the most effective way? What does this money achieve? And is there a better way of managing this considerable resource?