Additional funding for childhood budgets and interim one-time funding

As of July 1, 2022, we are providing additional funding for children and youth who have a current funding agreement, and those who enter a new funding agreement, for Ontario Autism Program (OAP) childhood budgets and interim one-time funding. We are providing this funding to support the Personal Support Workers and Direct Support Workers Permanent Compensation Enhancement Program.

If you are eligible for this additional funding, you will automatically receive a payment within four to six weeks of July 1, 2022. You do not need to apply for this additional funding. We will contact you if we need more information.

Current funding agreements

The amount of additional funding you are eligible to receive as of July 1, 2022, depends on your current funding agreement, as follows:

  • You will get a top-up payment of $500 if you received an OAP payment of $5,000 through your current funding agreement
  • You will get a top-up payment of $2,000 if you received an OAP payment of $20,000 through your current funding agreement

New funding agreements

If you enter into a new funding agreement for OAP childhood budgets and interim one-time funding as of July 1, 2022, you will be eligible to receive a payment of $5,500 or $22,000 based on the age of the child or youth as of April 1 of the funding year.

Contact us with questions

If you have a current childhood budget or interim one-time funding agreement and you have questions about this additional funding, please contact our Central Resource Team:

AccessOAP supporting families

AccessOAP, the Ontario Autism Program’s Independent Intake Organization, started supporting families and independent youth in April 2022.

AccessOAP supports families and independent youth at each step in the OAP by connecting them with knowledgeable care coordinators to answer their questions, advise them on their service options and help them find supports in their communities.

In April 2022, we started sending families and youth registered in the OAP an email or letter, depending on their communication preferences, that requires action. The email and letter includes instructions on how to:

  • create an account with AccessOAP
  • give consent for the ministry to transfer a child/youth’s OAP record to AccessOAP

Families and youth will receive their email or letter in the order that they registered for the OAP. In the meantime, if you have questions or need more information, please use the latest contacts for the OAP.

March 2022 updates

We continue to make important progress implementing the needs-based Ontario Autism Program.

The Independent Intake Organization (now AccessOAP) will start supporting families in April

The Independent Intake Organization will begin supporting families and independent youth in April 2022. This new organization will officially be called AccessOAP.

AccessOAP will be the single point of access to the OAP across Ontario. It will support families and independent youth at each step in the OAP by connecting them with knowledgeable care coordinators to answer their questions, advise them on their service options and help them find supports in their communities.

Starting in April 2022, we will send families and youth registered in the OAP an email or letter, depending on their communication preferences, that will require action. It will include instructions on how to:

  • create an account with AccessOAP
  • give consent for the ministry to transfer a child/youth’s OAP record to AccessOAP

Families and youth will receive their instructions in the order that they registered for the OAP. In the meantime, if you have questions or need more information, please use the latest contacts for the OAP.

OAP urgent response services

OAP urgent response services will be available to families starting in April 2022.

These services will enable eligible children and youth who are experiencing a specific, urgent need to access supports to help stabilize the situation, prevent crisis, and reduce the risk of them harming themselves or others.

OAP urgent response services will provide up to 12 weeks of supports to eligible children and youth registered in the OAP, free of charge. Urgent response services do not provide funding to purchase supports.

OAP entry to school program now supporting kids across Ontario

More than 1,440 children registered in the OAP, who will start kindergarten or Grade 1 in fall 2022, are now participating in the OAP’s entry to school program. Through this program we are helping children on the autism spectrum start school successfully.

December 2021 updates

Ontario has reached a significant milestone in implementing the needs-based Ontario Autism Program to better support children and youth registered in the program, as well as their families and caregivers.

Naming the Independent Intake Organization

The new Independent Intake Organization (IIO) for the Ontario Autism Program will be delivered through a partnership led by Accerta Services Inc., with McMaster University, Autism Ontario, and Health Care 365. The IIO will provide a single point of access to the OAP and will be involved in all steps of a family’s journey in the program, from intake to funding allocations.

Accerta Services and its partners bring together significant experience in administering public programs, supporting children and youth on the autism spectrum and their caregivers, care coordination, service navigation, research, and healthcare education.

The IIO is scheduled to start supporting families in spring 2022. Its responsibilities will include:

  • registering children and youth for the Ontario Autism Program
  • connecting families with a care coordinator as a main point of contact
  • completing the determination of needs process to identify a child’s level of support need and funding allocation for core clinical services
  • helping families navigate services and community-based supports
  • facilitating regional service networks of service providers to support a coordinated and integrated service experience for children, youth and their families
  • coordinating an independent review process for families

We will start contacting families in spring 2022 to connect them with the IIO. Until then, you can continue to reach and register for the Ontario Autism Program through current contacts.

Welcoming more children into core clinical services

In March 2021, children and youth registered in the Ontario Autism Program started to receive invitations to participate in the launch of core clinical services. These services include applied behaviour analysis, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy and mental health services. We reached our goal of enrolling 600 children and youth in the launch of core clinical services, and we continue to invite and enrol families in the launch as they respond to their invitations.

The Independent Intake Organization will play a key role in welcoming more children into core clinical services. By fall 2022, we will provide 8,000 children and youth with funding to purchase core clinical services. At the recommendation of the Ontario Autism Advisory Panel, children will enter core clinical services in the order that they registered for the Ontario Autism Program. Beginning in spring 2022, families will be connected with the IIO to support their entry into core clinical services.

Extending behaviour plans

To maintain services for families while implementing the needs-based program, children with existing Ontario Autism Program behaviour plans can continue to extend their plan up to its current level of intensity, or less where clinically appropriate, until they enter core clinical services. Families of children with existing behaviour plans will have the option to enter core clinical services in the order that they registered in the Ontario Autism Program, or extend their plans until spring 2023, at which time they will begin to transition.

Launching the Entry to School Program

Ontario has selected the service providers for the Entry to School Program.

Starting in January 2022, eligible families will receive invitations for the program, which will help prepare children who are starting kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time. The Entry to School Program is a six-month, group-based, skill-building program focused on helping children develop school-readiness skills in six areas:

  • communication
  • play
  • social interaction
  • functional routines
  • behavioural self-management
  • pre-academics, learning and attention

After the group-based program, children will receive individual transition supports as they enter school, including targeted consultations with Entry to School Program staff during their first six months in school, as needed.

Preparing to launch urgent response services

We are preparing to launch urgent responses services as another key element of the needs-based Ontario Autism Program. This past summer, we initiated a regional-based proposals process for urgent response services. We identified 11 lead organizations and established regional planning tables to develop service delivery models across Ontario.

These time-limited services will be available to children and youth registered in the Ontario Autism Program. Through these services, providers will offer families a rapid response to a specific, identified need to help prevent further escalation or risk of harm to the child or youth, other people, or property. We will provide more information about these services and how families will be able to access them in early 2022.

Selecting providers for workforce capacity fund grants

To help build new capacity in the autism sector, we are awarding our first round of grants to public and private service providers through the workforce capacity fund. The $14.5 million fund is part of the Ontario Autism Program capacity action plan and will support more than 80 grants to build, retain and develop the workforce, including behaviour analysts, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and mental health clinicians.

This funding will allow OAP service providers to expand and innovate to serve more families by:

  • hiring new staff and increasing hours for existing staff
  • supporting professional development and training of autism clinicians
  • investing in technology to increase access to virtual services
  • supporting service provider travel to serve children in rural or remote communities

We will post the final list of grant recipients online in January.

Building capacity across Ontario to support children on the autism spectrum

The capacity action plan will enable a stable, efficient and skilled, workforce so that all families have access to high-quality core clinical services in the Ontario Autism Program. The plan was developed with input from the autism advisory panel, the implementation working group, service providers and families.

The capacity action plan focuses on four objectives:

  • Stabilizing the workforce through new initiatives like the $14 million Workforce Capacity Fund which will support projects led by public and private service providers that improve access to core clinical services such as hiring new clinical staff, increasing hours for existing clinical staff or supporting service provider travel to serve children in rural or remote communities.
  • Enhancing skills and training by investing in new opportunities for more than 7,000 clinicians, including Indigenous Cultural Competency Training and mental health training to help build the workforce and enhance the knowledge and skills of clinicians.
  • Strengthening oversight by regulating behaviour analysts as a new profession under the College of Psychologists of Ontario and expanding the OAP Providers List of qualified clinicians which will promote consistency, professionalism, and safe, high-quality service delivery across the province.
  • Expanding access for rural, remote, Indigenous and francophone populations including funding for pilot projects that are building service capacity in northern Ontario. This will build on a new partnership between 15 public and private agencies in the north who are coordinating services to ensure children in the region are receiving support based on their needs.

Watch Minister Fullerton’s message to learn more about the capacity action plan.

Special needs workforce survey results available

From September 23, 2020 to November 21, 2020, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services conducted a survey of professionals who provide clinical services to people with special needs. The aim of the survey was to better understand the availability, location, skills and experiences of these professionals.

This survey was open to people who provide:

  • behavioural services (applied behaviour analysis or ABA)
  • occupational therapy
  • speech-language pathology
  • physiotherapy
  • We’re using the survey data to understand current workforce capacity and support planning for programs that fund services for people with special needs, including autism spectrum disorder.

Learn more about the survey and read the results.

Launching caregiver-mediated early years programs

You can now register for caregiver-mediated early programs if you have received an invitation. The programs will support families with children ages 12 months to 48 months who are registered in the Ontario Autism Program.

Caregiver-mediated early years programs help young children learn new skills and meet individual goals. All programs are play-based, child-led and developmentally appropriate. Programs are free of charge and available for a period of up to six months per child.

In June 2021, we started sending invitations to eligible families. You must receive an invitation before you can sign up for a program.

Once you receive an invitation, you can contact service providers to ask questions about the programs they offer and decide which program is best for your child. When you choose the program that’s right for your child, you register directly with the service provider.

Through these programs, you can learn therapeutic strategies and specific techniques from professionals based on your child’s individual needs. The programs aim to build your capacity to support your child’s skill development in:

  • social interaction
  • play
  • communication
  • emotional development
  • adaptive development and self-help skills

We selected the organizations through a competitive process. Many of these organizations are partnering with other providers in their communities to deliver these programs.

Learn more about the programs and the providers offering them.

Renewing interim one-time funding this year

If you have received a childhood budget, you may be eligible to receive interim one-time funding once you have submitted your expense form and interim one-time funding application. Use our online form to submit your expenses and apply for interim one-time funding in one easy step. Also, you can download an accessible PDF version of the form.

If you have already received interim one-time funding, you may be eligible to receive an additional payment of $20,000 or $5,000 based on your child’s age. Use our online form to submit your expenses for your initial payment and apply for an additional payment in one easy step. Also, you can download an accessible PDF version of the form.

Accepting this funding will not impact your eligibility for the needs-based Ontario Autism Program. Your child or youth’s position on the Ontario Autism Program waitlist will be maintained.

February 2021 updates

We are taking several steps as we continue to implement the needs-based Ontario Autism Program (OAP).

Expanding supports for families of children with autism

We are providing additional supports for families of children on the autism spectrum.

Starting in March 2021, we will begin offering core clinical services based on a child’s individual needs, a key element of the new Ontario Autism Program. These services include applied behaviour analysis, speech language pathology, occupational therapy and mental health supports.

We asked the Child and Parent Resource Institute to oversee the launch of core clinical services. Beginning this month, care coordinators will be trained to conduct and guide families through the new determination of needs process that will include:

  • meeting with a family to identify a child’s goals, strengths and support needs across key domains
  • allocating funding to families so they can purchase core clinical services from providers of their choice.
  • supporting families with next steps to access core clinical services of their choice

Starting in March, about 600 children and youth from across the province who are registered in the Ontario Autism Program will be invited to participate in the launch of core clinical services. Once families have received their funding allocation, they will then work directly with a clinician of their choice to develop treatment options and plans for their child.

The feedback from families on their experience will be critical in helping the province evaluate and refine delivery of the program.

The determination of needs process has been developed based on the advice and clinical expertise of the Implementation Working Group as well as current research.

Increasing investments in Ontario’s autism diagnostic hubs

This year, the government will invest $3.8 million, in addition to $5.5 million of annual funding, for its five diagnostic hubs. This additional investment will improve families’ access to a diagnostic assessment for their child by reducing waitlists and wait times, resulting in families being able to register for the OAP and access services as quickly as possible.

Next steps in the regulation of applied behaviour analysis

The government is proceeding with work to increase oversight for providers who deliver applied behaviour analysis (ABA) in Ontario.

The government will introduce legislation to regulate ABA as a new profession under the College of Psychologists of Ontario, beginning with applied behaviour analysts in supervisory and assessment-focused roles. Next steps will include:

  • drafting proposed legislation that, if passed, would enable this change
  • working with the College to develop regulations

This process follows the same steps as the regulation of other health professions under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 and its associated health profession acts.

As recommended by experts and supported by families, regulating ABA providers will set standard expectations across Ontario. By choosing regulated providers, you will be able to be confident in the quality of therapy you will receive.

Find more information about these qualification requirements.

Selecting Ontario Autism Program service providers

As part of the ongoing implementation of the new Ontario Autism Program we will issue calls for applications and proposals from public and private organizations that wish to deliver key elements of the new program.

In the next few months, we will issue calls for applications for:

  • caregiver-mediated early years programs
  • independent intake organization
  • urgent response services
  • early years entry to school program

Learn more about the selection process for service providers and find the calls for application or proposals.

This process is the next step in putting the new needs-based Ontario Autism Program into action for children, youth and families across Ontario.

Read previous news about the Ontario Autism Program