2.2 — Who is eligible: dependent children
Summary of Legislation
A child is a dependent child if:
- he/she is under 18
- he/she resides in the same home with his/her parent(s)
- the parent(s) is an ODSP applicant/recipient or his/her spouse
- the applicant/recipient receives the Canada Child Benefit on behalf of the child or if that does not apply, has been determined by the Director to be the child’s primary caregiver
The earnings of a dependent child are exempt as income and assets
Summary of Directive
This directive explains how to determine if a child under 18 living with his/her parents is a dependent child.
Intent of Policy
To ensure that the individual circumstances of a dependent child are considered when determining eligibility for ODSP and the amount of income support.
Application of Policy
Children under 18 who live with their parents, and meet the definition of dependent child, are included as part of the ODSP benefit unit.
A dependent child’s assets are considered when determining income support for the benefit unit. However, a dependent child’s earnings are exempt as income and assets.
Definition of a Dependent Child
A child is considered a dependent child if:
- he/she is under the age of 18
- he/she resides with a parent who is an applicant/recipient or the applicant/recipient’s spouse
- the parent in the benefit unit:
- receives the Canada Child Benefit on behalf of the child or is eligible to receive it
- is responsible for the primary care and control or shares custody of the child as determined by the Director
Dependent Children in Shared Custody
Where an applicant/recipient shares physical custody of a child on an approximately equal basis, he/she may receive income support for the child only if he/she is eligible to receive the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for that child. The applicant/recipient must provide written verification from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that he/she is eligible to receive the CCB as a shared-custody parent.
In some cases CRA continues to issue the CCB to one parent when care is equally divided. In such situations, the applicant/recipient should be advised to update CRA regarding the current custody arrangements and request that eligibility for the CCB be shared.
Where an applicant/recipient shares custody with the other parent and CRA has agreed to shared eligibility of the CCB, income support provided on behalf of the dependent child will consist of 50% of the sole-support parent supplement and a full shelter amount. In addition, the child is entitled to full drug and other health benefits.
A child will not be considered a dependent child under ODSP where the applicant/recipient is ineligible for the CCB because CRA has determined that shared custody arrangements are not in place.
Where an applicant/recipient is ineligible for the CCB due to immigration status (i.e. refugee claimants who have not met residency requirements), staff will undertake an assessment to determine if shared custody arrangements are in place.
The assessment should take into consideration the following:
- who the child usually resides with and where, to what extent if any, the applicant/recipient supervises the daily activities and needs of the child
- whose responsibility it is to ensure that the child lives in a secure environment
- to what degree the applicant/recipient is involved in the decision-making and arrangements for transportation to medical appointments for the child
- to what degree the applicant/recipient is involved in the decision-making regarding participation in and transportation to, the educational, athletic or similar activities of the child
- what the applicant/recipient does to take care of the child’s needs when ill or when alternative care is required (i.e. babysitter)
- who ensures that the hygienic needs of the child are met on a regular basis
- to what extent does the applicant/recipient provide guidance and companionship to the child
ODSP staff should also review current separation or divorce documents, if available, for custody provisions.
Dependent Children Where CCB is not Received
Where applicants/recipients are not in receipt of the CCB but declare to have primary caregiver obligations, ODSP staff should advise these applicants/recipients to apply for the CCB (with the exception of refugee claimants who are not eligible for the CCB due to their immigration status). Applicants/recipients who may not be in receipt of the CCB include those who:
- have a newborn child (for up to 4 months pending the processing of a CCB application)
- are late filing their income tax and as a result have not re-qualified for CCB
- have the requirement to apply for the CCB waived where they are at risk due to family violence
For these cases, a determination of primary care and control should be made taking into consideration the following:
- does the child reside with the applicant/recipient
- is the applicant/recipient responsible to ensure that the child lives in a secure environment
- is the applicant/recipient responsible for decision-making and arrangements for transportation to medical appointments for the child
- is the applicant/recipient responsible for decision-making regarding participation in and transportation to, the educational, athletic or similar activities of the child
- is the applicant/recipient responsible for the child’s needs when ill or when alternative care is required (i.e. babysitter)
- is the applicant/recipient responsible to ensure that the hygienic needs of the child are met on a regular basis
- does the applicant/recipient provide guidance and companionship to the child
The assessment criteria should be applied to the applicant/recipient and, where applicable, his or her spouse in the benefit unit.
Dependent Children who have Completed High School
Dependent children who have completed high school should continue to be included in the benefit unit.
After completing high school, a dependent child who does not plan to attend post-secondary school should be encouraged to access employment assistance through their local Ontario Works office. Dependent children who access employment assistance through Ontario Works, do so on a voluntary basis. There is no authority under the ODSP Regulation to compel dependent children to comply with participation requirements.
When a dependent child turns 18, he/she becomes a dependent adult with Ontario Works participation requirements. (See Directive 2.1 Who is Eligible: Dependent Adults)
Dependent children with a disability, who are no longer attending secondary school, are eligible to apply for ODSP Employment Supports if they require employment assistance in order to obtain or maintain employment. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age.
Dependent Children Pursuing Post-Secondary Education
In situations where a dependent child has relocated to pursue full time post-secondary education, he/she is still considered to be a dependent child in the benefit unit during the months away from home and there is to be no reduction in the benefit unit’s budgetary requirements.
Dependent Child Attending a School Where Child’s Needs Are Met by a Government Agency or School Away from Home
Where a dependent child is required to relocated from a remote area to attend school or is attending a boarding school where the child’s needs are met by other government agencies (e.g., school for the deaf or child mental health facilities), he/she is still considered to be a dependent child in the benefit unit during the months away from home and there is to be no reduction in the benefit unit’s budgetary requirements. The full sole-support parent supplement as well as the full incremental shelter allowance is to be provided on behalf of the child.
Children who are away at summer camp should continue to be included in the benefit unit.
Children in the Care of a Children's Aid Society or Indigenous Child Well-Being Society or an Alternate Caregiver
To support family reunification, income support is not to be reduced when a child who is in need of protection is placed into the temporary care of a Children’s Aid Society or Indigenous Child Well-Being Society (“society”), or is placed by a society in the care of an alternate caregiver (e.g. kin).
The full sole-support parent supplement as well as the full shelter allowance is to be provided on behalf of the child. The child is to remain as a dependent child in the applicant or recipient’s benefit unit until a final decision is made on permanency for the child and the child’s situation becomes permanent (e.g., adoption, Crown wardship).
Where a child is in the temporary care of a society or alternate caregiver, the caseworker should also determine whether the parent continues to receive the CCB/OCB for the child and review if the parental benefit unit would be eligible to receive the Transition Child Benefit. (see Directive 9.20 Transition Child Benefit for more information).
To help in the determination of whether a child is in temporary care versus a permanent arrangement, caseworkers are to obtain the recipient’s consent to get information from the society on the plan of care for the child. It may be appropriate for local offices to develop protocols with societies in their areas to ensure they are aware of relevant case information, where consent has been provided. These protocols should encourage caseworkers in both programs to mutually review a child’s plan of care and supports that are available to the child and the child’s family..
The file should be reviewed every 3 months or whenever the society’s plan of care is reviewed. Activities related to the society’s service plan or plan of care for the child may be a recognized part of the parent’s participation agreement (e.g., attendance at counselling sessions.)
This does not apply to situations where a parent voluntarily places their child in the care of an alternate caregiver through private arrangements where the child is not in need of protection (i.e., as determined by a society) and not receiving services from a society.
A child who is permanently placed outside of the benefit unit (e.g., Crown wardship of a society) is not included as a dependent child in the parental benefit unit. The society is responsible for the care of the child and the parent is no longer eligible to receive assistance for this child.
Any payments made by the society to a family to help prevent the admission of a dependent child to the care of a society are exempt as income.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services provides funding under the Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent (OCBE) Act, 2009 in respect of children and youth in the permanent care of societies. Societies administer funds through two programs:
- The Activities Program provides children and youth in care with increased access to recreational, educational, cultural and social activities and opportunities and may be accessed for any children and youth in care.
- The Savings Program allocates monthly OCBE funds to a savings program in respect of eligible youth in care ages 15 to 17. These funds (including any interest) are disbursed when they leave care, and may be disbursed directly to the eligible youth and/or to third parties on behalf of the youth.
OCBE payments, provided through the Activities and/or Savings Program in respect of a child or youth in the care of a society, are exempt as income and assets.
Income and Assets of a Dependent Child
All earnings or the amount paid under a training program to a dependent child are exempt as income and assets.
Assets derived from a dependent child's earnings are also exempt (e.g., savings bonds, stocks, other assets). When determining whether a benefit unit's assets are within allowable levels, assets resulting from the earnings of dependent children are not to be considered. Note: Other income and asset exemptions also apply to dependent children.
Dependent children 16 years of age and older, who have a disability, are eligible for ODSP Employment Supports. Employment Supports can provide employment related goods and services to assist the client to obtain and maintain employment.
Dependent children who have received an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or its equivalent are eligible to receive an Employment Start-up Benefit of up to $500 to assist with the costs associated with preparing for employment and beginning or changing employment. (See Directive 9.1)
Dependent Child with His/Her Own Dependent Child(ren)
Dependent children who have their own dependent children can apply for financial assistance for their dependent children through Ontario Works.