Petition Closed

My oldest child, Logan, has autism.  He and my daughter had been attending the after school child care program at their school, which is run by the Georgia Mountains YMCA.

Before the YMCA accepted my son into the child care program I told both the program director and on site staff about his condition and they were understanding.

I discussed with the YMCA staff as well as my child's special education teacher that he exhibits elopement behaviors, a common symptom of autism. This simply means he will try to leave an enclosed space.

The YMCA staff member assured me they would not allow my child to leave and that they would provide an additional staff member for supervision on the days my son was scheduled to attend. To my knowledge additional supervision was never provided.

On Wednesday, October 24th the staff at the YMCA called a meeting with me. I was first asked to pay extra to keep my son in the program, then was told that he was no longer allowed in the program.

The reason I was given for the decision was that he was a flight risk due to his autism. Once outside the meeting room and in front of additional staff and YMCA patrons, staff members denied having kicked my son out.

I was scheduled to work that afternoon and had only two hours to find an alternative child care provider. I have yet to find a suitable permanent child care solution. I have yet to receive a refund or a written explanation from the YMCA.

I feel that if the YMCA is going to provide a public service at an elementary school every child who attends this school should have access to this service.

Please sign my petition and join me in telling the Georgia Mountains YMCA and the YMCA of the USA that discrimination against children with autism and other disabilities is unacceptable. I am asking them to provide all children with disabilities reasonable accommodations and an equal opportunity to participate.

Letter to
President and Chief Executive Officer, YMCA of the USA Niel Nicoll
President and Chief Executive Officer, YMCA of the USA Neil Nicoll
Afterschool Director Holly Redeker
and 1 other
CEO Georgia Mountains YMCA Rich Gallagher
Stop discrimination against children with autism and other disabilities.

I am writing to demand that the YMCA provide equal access to programs and services to children with autism and other disabilities.

Sarah David’s two children were enrolled in the after school program at Georgia Mountains YMCA. Her son, Logan, has autism. Before the YMCA accepted her son into the child care program she told both the program director and on site staff about his condition and they were understanding.

She discussed with the YMCA staff as well as her child's special education teacher that he exhibits elopement behaviors, a common symptom of autism. This simply means he will try to leave an enclosed space.

The YMCA staff member assured Sarah they would not allow her child to leave and that they would provide an additional staff member for supervision on the days her son was scheduled to attend. As far as Sarah knows, additional supervision was never provided.

On October 24th the staff at the YMCA called a meeting with Sarah. She was first asked to pay extra to keep her son in the program. When she declined she was then told that he was kicked out. The reason she was given for the decision was that he was a flight risk due to his autism.

Expelling a child for a symptom of his disability is unfair, creates an undue burden on families and it violates the rights of people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If the YMCA is going to provide a public service at an elementary school every child who attends this school should have access to this service.

The way this was handled by the YMCA goes against their mission statement "to put Christian principles into practice to build healthy spirit, mind and body for all." and stated goals to provide opportunities for all and to provide services and initiatives for everyone.

Discrimination against children with autism and other disabilities is unacceptable. I am asking you to provide all children with disabilities reasonable accommodations and an equal opportunity to participate.

With 1 in every 88 American children on the autism spectrum organizations like the YMCA need to be prepared to care for them. It is in the best interest of the YMCA of the USA to develop a training program and resources for local YMCA’s on the American with Disabilities Act.

Recommendations for training should include:

adopting a nondiscriminatory policy under the ADA, stating that YMCA will not discriminate against any individual based on disability, will make reasonable accommodations when necessary, and will not exclude any individual with a disability unless he or she poses a direct threat;
nondiscriminatory policies should be published in the employee, membership and parent handbooks; and
YMCA’s should designate an ADA compliance person at each child care facility.

Sincerely,