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Letter to the Editor | Special care for all

I am writing to express a suggestion to the Proposed Child Care Facility in Davao City. It is indeed a trailblazing project to have that idea. However, I reckon the disadvantages if the Valenzuela Special Education Center be its model. As a small metropolitan city that is Valenzuela, it is not ideal to adapt it in a wider land area such as Davao City.

In the United States and other parts of the world, therapeutic services such as Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy are grouped in the Department of Special Education (SPED) Services. These professionals report directly to the Principal and the Director of DSES. They are headquartered in a district. They report and provide services by schedule to specific schools that needed their services.

In the proposed Child Care Facility for Special Children by Councilor Antonette Principe, she emphasized on the creation of a singular unit to cater to children with special needs in Davao City. In Valenzuela, it can be done because of its size. Children can easily commute in that area. On the other hand, special needs children can also be located in Toril, Bunawan, Marilog and Paquibato. Do you think that they can benefit the 40-Million Pesos Facility which is set to be built in Palma Gil Street beside Cinematheque?

My suggestions are the following: 1. Make a Department of Special Education Services to be managed by the city government. This unit will hire Occupational, Speech and Physical Therapists. 2. Headquarters of this unit cannot be in one place but by District, i.e. First, Second, Third Districts and specifically in SPED Centers. A resource room be allocated per SPED Center which include: Malagos SPED Center & Tugbok SPED Center (3rd District); Buhangin SPED Center & F. Bangoy SPED Center (2nd District); Bangkal SPED Center and Ma-a SPED Center (1st District). These resource rooms are the spaces in the central delivery of Services by OT/PT/Speech Therapy Professionals. It is very important to note that these SPED Centers have many children with no access because of poverty. They have the authority in the determination of the special needs of their pupils especially when diagnosis by a Developmental Pediatrician is yet to be given.

Collaborating with them is more relevant than creating a one structure that fits all.

The proposal is already in its final process. It is set to be built in a few months. However, it is my hope that even if the structure will be made, the whole purpose must be to help the children with special needs in all areas and sections of Davao City, not just around the Poblacion Area where access to SPMC and other centers who have charitable rates are already operating. The clamor of having a one-stop shop center is also relevant to far-flung areas. There are many aspects to special needs intervention that must be studied and planned before imitating a program that still needs to be proven to be successful and effective. Think globally and act locally; and that is the essence of Department of Special Education Services.

It cannot be seen anywhere in this magnitude. It is high time that Davao City be the first to showcase it.

By Sir Raffle

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