Special Services at Home
Learn about funding to help with costs related to respite, personal growth and development for your child with physical and/or developmental disabilities.
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Permanent changes to eligible expenditures
Some of the temporary eligible expenditures that were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic are now permanent, with additional changes for clarity and simplicity. These expenditures will be eligible for reimbursement as of April 1, 2023.
About the program
Families who are caring for a child with a developmental and/or physical disability can apply to the Special Services at Home (SSAH) program to get funding for:
- primary caregiver relief and related supports
- activities of personal growth or development for the child, including camps and recreational activities, like swimming and music classes.
Respite enhances the primary caregiver’s capacity to provide care for the child with a disability living at home through the provision of indirect assistance. Indirect assistance can help provide relief to the primary caregiver so that they may take some time away from caregiving, or from one or more of their other responsibilities such as cooking, housekeeping and grocery shopping.
Support for personal growth and development can help the child learn new skills and abilities, such as improving their communication skills and becoming more independent.
The amount of funding you receive depends on
- the type and amount of service your child needs
- what other help is available in your community
- what kind of support you already receive
What services you can get
The program can help you pay for special services in or outside of your home as long as your child does not receive support from a residential program.
For example, you can hire someone to:
- help your child learn new skills and abilities, such as improving their communications skills and becoming more independent
- provide respite support (a break, or respite, from the day-to-day care of your child)
Who you can hire to provide support
- hire a worker directly
- work with an agency to purchase supports from the workers they employ
- hire a family member who is over the age of 18 and not the primary caregiver, parent, step-parent or spouse
For help finding a worker and for more information on services in your community, please visit respiteservices.com
You can apply for the SSAH program if your child:
- has a developmental and/or physical disability
- lives in Ontario
- is under the age of 18
- needs more support than you can provide
- lives at home with you, or is not living at home with you and is not being helped by other residential services
You can apply online for the Special Services at Home (SSAH) program.
You will have the option to save, edit and submit your application at a later time.
You can only submit one application for your child. Submitting duplicate applications will result in delays in processing your application.
If you would like to apply for more than one child, you will need to submit a separate application for each child.
You have 90 days to complete and submit your online application.
Get a paper application
Assistance with completing the application
If you require assistance with completing your application, you can contact:
- a community agency
- health care professional
- social worker
- family or friend
- other individual who may be involved in the child’s regular care and treatment
If you have any questions or need assistance, contact your local ministry regional office.
Please notify your local ministry regional office of any changes to your information so that we can keep your file updated.
Information for families enrolled in the program
All families who were enrolled in the program in 2022-2023 and who continue to be eligible for funding will receive a renewal package for 2023-2024. Families should start receiving the renewal package by mail starting April 2023.
Notify your local ministry regional office of any changes to your information so that we can keep your file updated.
If you have a child who turned 18 years of age before March 31, 2023, you will not receive a 2023-2024 renewal package.
The 2023-2024 renewal package includes:
- a contract renewal letter for the fiscal year 2023-24
- copies of the invoice template
Funding increase effective July 1, 2022
Additional funding was made available for families receiving support from SSAH, to support the permanent wage enhancement for Personal Support Workers and Direct Support Workers.
You may use the additional funding to:
- employ or buy services from a support worker
- pay for other eligible expenses, including from the list of temporary eligible expenses
How to manage your funding
You can choose to administer your funding in two ways:
- Self-administered funding: you get your own funding, purchase services and supports on your own and submit expense claims directly to regional offices for reimbursement
- Agency administered funding: an agency administers your funding on your behalf. Please contact your local regional office to get more information on the list of agencies in your area that can support families who get SSAH funding.
Information about self-administered funding model
Submit your invoices
If you choose to manage your SSAH funding you must send your invoices for eligible services for reimbursement.
You have two options. You can:
- use the 2023-2024 invoices that you received with your SSAH 2023-2024 approval package or complete the invoice template found on the SSAH website and email, fax, mail or drop it off to your local regional office
- submit your invoices electronically through MyDirectPlan
Use the contact information for your local regional office on your invoice if you choose to email, fax, mail or drop off your invoice.
We suggest submitting one invoice per month, where possible.
Some services have special instructions for submitting invoices:
- invoices for respite workers must be submitted after the last date of service listed on the invoice
- invoices for camp registration fees or recreational programs must include registration forms with proof of payment
Use an invoice from this year
You must use the invoice that you received with your 2023-2024 approval package.
If you use an invoice from last year for services incurred after April 1, 2023, we will not be able to accept it. We will return your claim by the same delivery method (email or mail) to you to resubmit.
Send a complete invoice
We cannot process invoices that are incomplete or missing required information. If you submit an incomplete invoice we will return it by the same delivery method (email or mail) to you and your payment will be delayed.
You must include information about each worker who provides you with a service on every invoice, including the worker’s name, phone number, signature and dates that services were provided.
Use a separate invoice for each worker if you are submitting expense claims for services purchased from several workers.
Keep your proof of purchase
It is your responsibility to provide proof of purchase for services claimed in your invoices and confirm the eligibility of the expenses that you claim if required for auditing purposes (for example, receipts clearly identifying the items and/or services purchased, including hours of services for support worker expense claims).
Get additional invoices
If you require additional blank invoice templates, you can:
- download a copy of the 2023-2024 invoice template
- make copies of the invoice templates we sent with your approval package
- contact your special agreements officer and ask them to email you blank invoice templates
Submit your expense claims
After you purchase services or supports, you can submit your expense claims by:
- using our online tool, MyDirectPlan
- email: email your expense claims to your local regional office
- mail: mail your expense claims to your local regional office
- fax: fax your expense claims to your local regional office
- submit your invoices directly to your regional office for approval
- keep track of your funding budget
- view used and remaining funds
- have your workers review and approve their hours online
As a MyDirectPlan user, you will also have access to our mobile app so you can manage your funding on the go and enjoy convenient features, like being able to take photos of your receipt on your phone or tablet and attach it directly to your expenses. The MyDirectPlan (MDP) mobile app is available for download on the Apple App store and Google Play store.
Signing up is easy. To get started, all you need is your funding letter. Go to www.MyDirectPlan.com and create an account. Our step-by-step wizard will guide you through the process.
If you have any questions or need assistance contact us:
- Email: support@MyDirectPlan.com
Toll-free: 1-844-637-6371from Monday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (EST)
Allow 30 business days for processing
Please allow 30 business days from the date your completed invoice is received by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services for payment to be deposited into your bank account.
Changing the information in your file
Change banking information
To change your banking information, please contact your special agreements officer by either mail, email or phone. The contact information for your special agreements officer is in your contract renewal letter. They will advise of the process to update your file which may include:
- direct deposit form containing the primary caregiver’s name; and
- either a void cheque or banking information (typically a letter from your banking institution)
Name change for parents, caregivers and contract administrators
If you change your name, you must notify your special agreements officer and provide government-issued documents as proof of identity. Acceptable ID includes birth certificate, marriage certificate or a valid driver’s license.
You must bring the originals with you to the ministry office to meet with your special agreement officer in order for a true certified copy to be placed in your file.
Please allow 30 business days for the change to take place.
If you change your address, please inform your special agreements officer by either mail, email or phone.
List of services you can purchase
- mainstream camp and recreation programs
- specialized camp and recreation programs
- advertising for recruitment of a special services worker
- special services or a support worker to provide respite and/or personal development
- travel costs associated with transporting special needs child for the worker
- basic supplies to implement a program for the special needs child (for example, flash cards)
- membership fees for special needs associations (for example, Special Olympics, Down Syndrome Association)
- 1 on 1 support worker at camp or recreational program
- training for a family member or worker that enhances the understanding of the child with a disability’s needs
- extraordinary cost of childcare (for children aged 12 and above)
- nursing for medically fragile children
- routine homemaking tasks – light housecleaning, meal preparation, laundry, grass cutting, and snow removal
- gym membership fees for the special needs child
- daycare and nursery school as respite or if recommended for socialization
- sensory items that help children and youth to alleviate anxiety/stress and/or support clinical or behavioural plans such as weighted blankets, rocking/wiggle stools or chairs, sensory toys
- technology items that provide children and youth the means and ability to stay connected and engaged in virtual and online learning/services and skill development activities, up to a maximum of $1,500 annually on items from this category (for example, laptops and tablets; online educational and e-learning activities and resources, including software/apps; peripherals including webcams and microphones, keyboards, mice, monitors; and connected devices and software/apps supporting accessibility; e-readers (such as, Kindle or Kobo); and remote monitoring devices and medical alert services and devices)
- items to support home-based recreation and fitness activities (for example, arts and craft supplies, hobby supplies, puzzles and games, books for leisure/learning, Indoor items and equipment such as, skipping rope, yoga mat, resistance bands)
- fitness/sport equipment and supplies that may be used on the individual’s property (for example, basketball net, trampoline, frisbee, badminton set)
- personal protective equipment and supplies, including items such as: gloves, masks, gowns, hand sanitizer and goggles and face shields
- service delivery fees for essential items such as groceries and medication only (note: this does not include the actual cost of the groceries and/or medications, just the service fee for delivery)
- family and caregiver-mediated supports (for example, training for caregivers on behavioural intervention approaches)
- tutoring and academic programs
- camp fees for siblings
- basic care (for example, clothing, food, diapers, routine medical costs)
- one-time admission costs (for example, movies, amusement parks, museums)
- regular child care fees for children under 12 years
- fees and tuition costs for education and employment
- assistive devices, specialized equipment, home modifications
- dental services
- 1 on 1 support in a school setting
- professional services: junior and senior therapists (for example, Intensive Behavioural Intervention, Applied Behaviour Analysis, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy)
- direct behaviour therapy with the child/youth (for example, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy)
- sports equipment
- restraints and permanent or semi-permanent structure (for example, inground pools, house modifications)
- videogames and videogame systems
- media service subscriptions and platforms (for example, Netflix, Xbox Live, Disney+)
- swimming pools, inground pools
- e-bikes and electric scooters
- cell phones
- cleaning supplies (for example, disinfectant wipes, sprays, etc.)
- delivery fees for takeout food from restaurants
Please contact your special agreements officer if you are unsure if an expense is eligible for reimbursement. The contact information for your special agreements officer is in your contract renewal letter.
For inquiries about payments, please contact the business services unit in your local regional office. The contact information is in the copy of the invoice we sent with your contract approval package. Please only call about invoice payments that you submitted more than 30 business days ago.
When you call, please have your:
- authorization number (this number changes every contract year)
- approval letter
We recommend that you keep track of your account balance. A tracking sheet is included in your contract approval package for this purpose. You can also keep track of your balance using MyDirectPlan.
Please contact your special agreements officer if you have any questions about the program or:
- your personal information changes, including your address and banking information
- you have questions about which expenses are eligible and ineligible