Find updates to keep informed about changes to developmental services programs due to COVID-19.

Overview

There are services and supports for adults with a developmental disability and their families so that you can live, work and participate in your community.

To learn more about services and supports near you, speak with your local Developmental Services Ontario office and/or your service provider.

Eligibility

Generally, to be eligible a person must:

  • have a developmental disability (“significant limitations in cognitive and adaptive functioning determined by a psychologist or psychological associate registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario or equivalent body in another province”)
  • be at least 18 years of age
  • reside in Ontario

The Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 defines eligibility for adult developmental services.

  • A developmental disability should be determined by a psychologist or psychological associate registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario or equivalent body in another province.

Developmental Services Ontario manages the application process for all provincially-funded developmental services and supports for adults with a developmental disability in Ontario.

Apply

Contact Developmental Services Ontario to apply for adult developmental services. Developmental Services Ontario manages the application process for all provincially-funded supports for adults with a developmental disability in Ontario.

If you’re eligible, staff there will help you complete a developmental services application package to assess your needs and connect you with available services and supports.

Please note that going through the application process does not guarantee a person will receive services immediately.

Application components

The Developmental Services application package consists of two components.

Application for developmental services and supports (ADSS)

The application for developmental services and supports (ADSS) gathers personal information about an individual with a developmental disability, their family members and/or others who provide primary care.

This part of the application process helps assessors get to know you better. It focuses on your past, present and future and helps to identify needs and wants.

Some of the key pieces of information collected through the ADSS include:

  • your goals
  • information on services currently provided
  • service requests
  • family caregiver needs

The ADSS provides context for the supports needs measured by the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS).

Supports intensity scale - adult (SIS-A)

The supports intensity scale – adult (SIS-A) is a standardized assessment tool published by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) which measures the level of support an individual may require to fully participate and be successful in a variety of areas.

The SIS-A focuses on your needs and measures the supports you need in order to complete the life activities you want to do. It measures support needs in the areas of:

  • home living
  • community living
  • lifelong learning
  • employment
  • health and safety
  • social activities
  • protection and advocacy
  • behavioural and medical needs

The application package is completed through a series of two meetings with a DSO assessor, one meeting focusing on the ADSS and the other on the SIS-A. Applicants will be asked questions in each meeting which may take a couple of hours.

Determining priority for service: areas of assessment

A prioritization tool is used to review the information you provide to the DSO. The same prioritization tool is used across the province. The tool accounts for the information in your application and assesses your level of risk based on:

  • current living situation
  • behavioural support needs
  • personal support needs
  • medical needs
  • the circumstances of your caregiver

The tool produces a numerical score that summarizes your level of risk. Higher scores indicate a higher level of risk.

Your risk-based priority is considered against all other people waiting for services. This method allows the DSO to identify people who are at the highest risk and prioritize them for available services and supports in their communities.

Programs and services

Passport

Learn what services and supports are available through the Passport program to help adults with a developmental disability participate fully as citizens in Ontario communities.

Learn more about the Passport program.

Specialized and clinical supports

Specialized clinical services help adults with a developmental disability who have higher support needs.

Ontario’s Community Networks of Specialized Care provide direct support coordination to adults with developmental disabilities with high supports and complex care needs, or support those who require appropriate diversion from the Justice System, including coordinating support and service within and across sectors. This includes people with a dual diagnosis - someone who has both a developmental disability and a mental health need(s).

You can work with your local Developmental Services Ontario office to assess your needs and connect you with available services and supports.

Adult Protective Service Worker

The Adult Protective Service Worker (APSW) program supports adults with a developmental disability who are living on their own. The goal of the program is to help you live as independently, safely and securely as possible in your community.

An APSW works directly with you to help you find and maintain supports, including:

  • social and housing services
  • health and dental care
  • counselling for emotional support during stressful life changes

Read the guidelines about the Adult Protective Service Worker program.

You can work with your local Developmental Services Ontario office to assess your needs and connect you with available services and supports.

Person-directed planning

You can use a portion of your Passport funding for person-directed planning which helps people with a developmental disability prepare life plans that lay out their distinct needs and goals. These plans can help you make the most out of funding and outline ways you can participate in community activities.

The planning process helps others understand your needs. It also helps you achieve your goals.

Read the guide to person-directed planning.

Read the plain language version of the guide.

Residential supports

Community agencies provide a range of residential services and supports that help people with a developmental disability. These include:

  • group living arrangements for three or more people receiving services and supports in a staff supported group living environment
  • supported independent living arrangements where one or more persons living independently of their family receives supportive services based on their assessed need
  • specialized supports for people with a developmental disability who have additional needs, such as mental health issues
  • family homes through the Host Family Program

You and your family can work with community agencies to find the kind of residential support that works best for you.

Developmental Services Ontario offices have housing coordinators and navigators to help you explore housing options in your community

Host Family Program

Through the Host Family Program, adults with developmental disabilities live with people who can provide care, support and supervision in a family setting. Successful matches between home sharers and service providers create positive long-term relationships and promote community participation.
We have requirements to protect the safety and security of adults with developmental disabilities who choose to live with a host family. These requirements, which came into effect April 1, 2016, strengthen the way agencies screen, select and evaluate host families and help ensure that the Host Family Program is delivered consistently across the province.

You can work with your local Developmental Services Ontario office to assess your needs and connect you with available residential services and supports.

Third party providers of developmental services in Ontario

In addition to services and supports from ministry-funded developmental service agencies, people with a developmental disability and their families may choose to seek services from a third-party provider.

These private, or for-profit, providers are not funded by the government and therefore are not subject to regulated ministry oversight, such as compliance inspections or service expectations that government-funded service providers must adhere to as part of their service contracts.

Any information about services and supports that may be offered by a third-party service provider should not be constituted as ministry endorsement of those services.

You should connect directly with the service provider to fully understand and assess what is being offered. You should consider the following factors when assessing a private or for-profit service provider:

  • quality of the service
  • associated service policies (for example, insurance coverage and hiring practices)
  • any associated fees
  • whether the service provider and service are acceptable to them and/or meets their personal needs

For information about whether a service provider is government-funded, speak with your local Developmental Services Ontario office and/or the service provider.

Contact information

Developmental Services Ontario

For questions, comments or complaints about a service or support that you or a family member is receiving, contact your service agency.

Ministry regional office

The ministry office will work with your agency to resolve your question or concern.

Ministry’s main contact page

If your concern isn’t dealt with to your satisfaction, you can use the online feedback form found on the ministry main contact page