Children's Minister Mary Polak's budget cuts include elimination of an intensive early intervention prorgam for autistic pre-schoolers.
Defending the decision last week, Polak offered a number of reasons for killing the program.
The most convincing was that despite the much higher cost to help the children, the program delivered no better results than alternatives costing less than one-third the amount per child.
"We have to look at the outcomes and when it comes to what was occurring, . . . we were not seeing any appreciable improvements in the outcomes for those kids," she said.
So what was that based on?
According to the ministry, Polak was referring to a review done in 2003, when the program was in its first full year.
The report on the ministry website is a Powerpoint summary of the research presented in 2005.
"The evaluation project was initiated at the very beginning of the EIBI and IEII programs," it notes. "So, the results only apply to the children and families who were initially involved in these programs, which have developed considerably since the evaluation was completed. Results may be different if the evaluation was conducted today."
And by today, the review's authors were referring to 2005.
It's a lame - even phony - justification for making a policy decision affecting children facing great challenges.
And it's misleading for Polak to suggest the ministry actually had a sound basis for assessing the program's effectiveness before killing it.
UPDATE: In spite of the quote above, Polak said today the effectiveness on intensive treatment played no role in her decision to kill the program.
You can watch her comments when she made the announcement, and today, at publiceyeonline and decide if you buy the claim.
It looks much more like the minister offered a bogus justification and is now trying to retreat without admitting it.