Ontario Transforming Autism Services for Children and Their Families

Americas, June 9 2017

The province is transforming the way that children and youth with autism, and their families, receive services and supports through the new Ontario Autism Program (OAP), beginning later this month.

Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau made the announcement today at the ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development in Mississauga. The new OAP will ensure autism services for children and youth are delivered consistently across the province, allow for flexibility and choice based on each child’s needs, and give families confidence in receiving quality services.

On June 26, families will begin to transition into the new OAP. The key components of the new program, beginning this month, include:

  • A single point of access. There will be one entry point to the OAP in each of the nine service areas to make it easier for families to access services for their child.
  • Family-centred decision making. As key partners in their child’s care, families will be actively engaged in the assessment, goal-setting and intervention planning process for their child.
  • Collaborative approach to service. A foundation of the new OAP will be the collaborative approach taken by community support service providers, clinicians and educators to support children’s needs at home, during service and in school.
  • Service based on need. Services will be flexible and individualized. The intensity and duration of the services a child or youth receives is based on their needs and strengths, regardless of age. Each child’s service plan will be determined by clinical assessment.
  • A direct funding option. A new direct funding option will be implemented by the end of this year. This will provide all families with a choice between receiving direct service or receiving funding to purchase their child’s service.
  • Safe, effective autism services. The province intends to regulate ABA practitioners to help ensure families receive safe, high-quality services, have confidence in their providers and know where to go if they have a concern.

The government is committed to ensuring families are supported through a smooth and seamless transition as they enter the new OAP. Transition planning within the new program will be individualized, planned in advance and will be achieved in partnership with each child’s family, OAP professionals and service providers. Children and youth with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder from a qualified professional will be eligible for the OAP up until the age of 18.

The province has worked closely with families, caregivers, advocates, clinicians and providers to build the new OAP, and will continue to engage with key stakeholders, including the OAP Advisory Committee, on the design and implementation of the new program. The new OAP will be fully in place by spring 2018.

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