About the program

The Special Services at Home (SSAH) program helps families taking care of a child with a developmental and/or physical disability. It provides funding to buy services and supports that help parents with caring for their child, or that support the child to join activities at home and in the community.

The goal of the SSAH program is to assist children with physical and/or developmental disabilities and their families to do what's important to them. This includes providing:

  • support for the child to participate in day-to-day activities
  • assistance for the child to participate in activities that support their growth and development
  • support for parents/main caregivers (such as respite services)

SSAH is meant to complement other services and supports a child may be receiving, including clinical services, by providing support for other things that will help a child and family do what is important to them.

A diagram of a house with the following text:

Special Services at Home Offers assistance for children with physical and/or developmental disabilities and their families

  • Child’s day-to-day activities
  • Child’s growth and development activities
  • Support for parents and caregivers Description automatically generate

Eligibility

To be eligible for Special Services at Home (SSAH), a child must:

  • need extra support, beyond what is expected for their age, because of a physical and/or developmental disability, so that they can take part in daily activities at home and in the community
  • be a resident of Ontario and legally entitled to live in Canada
  • be under 18 years old
  • live at home with their main caregiver or live separately from their main caregiver without support from other government-funded out-of-home (residential) services

Application requirements

Child’s medical documentation

When you apply for SSAH, you’ll need to provide documentation of the child’s need for extra support because of a physical or developmental disability.

The application must include documentation of the child's functional limitations as a result of a physical or developmental disability. Functional limitations are the direct impact of a physical, cognitive, or emotional impairment affecting the child's ability to perform and carry out activities of daily living.

A regulated health professional must provide this documentation. Regulated health professionals who can provide documentation include a:

  • physician
  • psychologist
  • psychological associate
  • nurse practitioner
  • registered practical nurse
  • registered nurse
  • ophthalmologist
  • audiologist
  • optometrist
  • physiotherapist
  • psychotherapist
  • occupational therapist
  • social worker
  • speech language pathologist
  • behaviour analyst

 

With some infants and children, determining a definitive diagnosis of a disability can be difficult. In the medical documentation, a regulated health professional must provide a written statement describing the probability or presence of delay and risk of further delay that will result in ongoing functional limitations.

While basic program eligibility is normally decided once, in the case of an infant without a diagnosis, the determination of eligibility must be undertaken again at approximately 6 years of age.

Child’s proof of residency

When you apply for SSAH, you will need to provide documentation of:

  • proof of the child’s residency in Ontario; and
  • proof that the child is legally entitled to live in Canada

The child with the disability must be a resident in Ontario. Residents are people who, when they apply, live in Ontario as their main home by citizenship, permanent resident status or Minister’s Permit.

When you apply for SSAH, you must provide documentation of proof of residency in Ontario for the child (such as the child's school registration document, your valid Ontario driver’s license or your utility bill). Learn more about acceptable documents for proof of residency in Ontario.

To be eligible for SSAH, the child must be legally entitled to live in Canada (for example, be a citizen, landed immigrant, holder of a Minister’s Permit or a refugee entitled to live in Canada).

When you apply for SSAH, you will need to submit a copy of supporting documentation. Supporting documentation can be any of these:

  • proof of Canadian citizenship
  • landed immigrant status
  • permission to stay by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, via the child's:
    • Canadian passport
    • Canadian birth certificate
    • Certificate of Indian Status
    • Permanent Resident card
    • Naturalization certificate
    • immigration documents
    • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada letter; or Minister’s permit

Visitors are not eligible. They are considered to be residents of their home province or country.

Child’s age

The child with the disability must be under the age of 18. Documents confirming age include but are not limited to a:

  • birth or baptismal certificate
  • Ontario health card
  • passport

Documents may be originals or photocopies. We reserve the right to review the original documents upon request.

What services you can get

Eligible expenses covered by Special Services at Home 

This also applies to the Enhanced Respite for Medically Fragile and/or Technology Dependent Children Program

Families who are receiving SSAH can be reimbursed for 3 types of categories.

Support for the child to participate in day-to-day activities

Help with everyday support to make it easier for the child to join community and home activities (like special clothes, items that support the child's sensory needs, extra lessons, tools for learning, and programs for social skills). For example:

  • support that helps the child with their daily routines
  • items or services that help the child's sensory needs
  • help with activities related to the child taking care of themselves (self-care)
  • support to keep the child safe in their daily routines
  • tutoring to help the child with their learning

Support for the child to participate in activities of growth and development

Helps the child to take part in activities that promote their growth and development like hobbies, activities with family and friends, and planning for the future.

This covers things that support the child in:

  • Functioning: An activity that helps the child build a skill
  • Family: Helps the child participate in a family activity
  • Friends: Helps the child participate in a social activity
  • Fun: Helps the child do something they enjoy
  • Fitness: Helps the child do a physical activity
  • Future: Helps plan for the child’s future

To learn more about Our Favorite words please visit the CanChild website.

Respite services and supports

Offers temporary relief for main caregivers (for example, parents) or assists with the extra needs of their child (such as care at home or outside by a respite worker, friend, or non-main caregiver family member, training to learn new skills for supporting their child, help with house chores while they care for their child, like snow removal).

This can include:

  • hiring someone to directly help with the child’s care
  • Camp expenses
  • Purchasing overnight respite
  • Purchasing respite from a daytime program
  • Purchasing before and/or after school care and care during PA Days, March breaks, summer breaks
  • Purchasing a service to help the main caregiver with other household responsibilities while the main caregiver takes care of the child
  • Training for the main caregiver on how to better support the child

Additional information on Compensating Family Members

  • Main caregivers can use their SSAH funding to pay certain family members (except some listed below) to help with personal growth, family relief, or breaks (respite). People who cannot get paid are:
    • The child’s main caregivers regardless of residence
    • A family member under the age of 18
  • Examples include:
    • An older sibling over the age of 18 can be paid with SSAH funds to help with breaks or teach new skills
    • A younger sibling under the age of 18 cannot
    • A grandparent who lives with the parent/main caregiver and the child who needs help could be paid with SSAH funding to provide support. But if the grandparent takes care of the child most of the time and is the main caregiver, they cannot be paid with SSAH funding.
    • A parent, step-parent, or spouse cannot be paid for any services they provide with SSAH funding

Additional Information on training

Family members or support workers might need more training to understand and help the child with a disability. Training is meant to:

  • Help the family member(s) or special services workers understand what the child needs
  • Help the family member(s) or special services workers do a better job of meeting those needs

Some examples of training that SSAH covers are:

  • Specialized needs, such as CPR or sign language
  • Payment of the support worker while attending a training event

Expenses not covered by Special Services at Home

These expenses are also ineligible for the Enhanced Respite for Medically Fragile and/or Technology Dependent Children Program.

Spending in these 3 categories cannot be reimbursed by the SSAH program.

Basic Living Expenses

  • Food and meals, both groceries and dining out
  • Home-related expenses (like rent, furniture, major appliances, home improvements, permanent or semi-permanent improvements such as in-ground or above ground swimming pools)
  • Phone and internet services at home, as well as cell phone services
  • Personal items and services not connected to the child's special needs such as toiletries, spa treatments, cosmetics, and tools/weapons (e.g. bow/arrows, knives)
  • Dental care and related services
  • Private school tuition for the child
  • Tuition for formal education of parents, caregivers or other family members (for example, for a post-secondary degree)
  • Transportation expenses (for example, car payments, transit fares)
  • Holiday costs and travel (for example, while camp fees for the child with a disability are eligible, costs for the entire family to attend a family camp are not eligible)

Items, supports and services that are funded/provided through other government programs (federal, provincial, and municipal), or co-pays for those items

  • Assistive devices that are paid for by the Assistive Devices Program (ADP)
  • Structural changes to homes and vehicles that are covered by the Home and Vehicle Modification Program
  • Assessments and hands-on therapy such as:
    • applied behavioral analysis (aba)
    • speech-language therapy
    • occupational therapy
    • physical therapy
    • mental health services, like counseling or psychotherapy
    • Psycho-educational assessments

Supports and services provided outside the province of Ontario.

If a service outside Ontario is cheaper and easier to reach than a similar service in Ontario, families may wish to seek pre-approval from the local Ministry Regional Office Director for some or all of the costs related to the admissible service.

Before we can make a decision in these special situations, we need:

  • a note from a qualified person explaining why the service is necessary
  • information that explains why the service is cheaper or easier to reach than one in Ontario

Reimbursements will not be given if services are purchased before you receive approval from your local Ministry Regional Office Director.

Who you can hire to provide support

You can:

  • hire someone yourself
  • work with an agency to purchase support from the workers they employ
  • hire a family member over 18 who isn't the main caregiver, parent, step-parent, or spouse

For help finding a worker and for more information on services in your community, please visit respiteservices.com

Application process

Step 1 — The application form

The application form provides families with an opportunity to describe the child’s strengths, interests, goals, needs and areas of support.

Families can get assistance from a community agency or anyone else to help complete the form.

Only one individual with decision-making responsibility for the child can apply for funding. If families have a parenting order (joint custody) for the child, only one parent can apply for funding. If your child is eligible for SSAH, we will provide funding to only one parent who has responsibility for the child.

The application form is divided into 10 areas:

  • Section one - Assistance with completing the application
  • Section two - Applicant information
  • Section three - Child information
  • Section four - Alternate contact information
  • Section five - Administration of funding
  • Section six - Strengths, interests and goals
  • Section seven - Areas of support
  • Section eight - Family situation
  • Section nine - Informal supports networks
  • Section ten  - Upload documents

You must ensure that the application is complete before you submit it to us. If an application is incomplete, we will send it back to you to request more information.

After submitting your application, if there is a change in your child’s or family’s circumstance, or if there are changes in your personal information, you need to inform your local regional office as soon as possible so they can update your file.

Step 2 — Acknowledgement

If you fill out the application form online, you will get an automated email confirming that it was received by the ministry.

If you submit a paper form, you will not receive an acknowledgement letter that the ministry has received your application.

Step 3 — Eligibility review and supports

The ministry will review your application to determine eligibility and identify the amount funding your child is eligible for.

SSAH is a discretionary program where funding is provided according to available resources.

Step 4 — Communication

You will receive a letter when you are found:

  • eligible and have been approved for the program, including details about what happens next
  • ineligible and have not been approved for the program, including information about the decision and your right to ask for a review of the decision

How to apply

Apply online

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.

Apply online

Get a paper application

You can also download a paper copy of the SSAH application to fill out and send to your local regional office of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.

Assistance with completing the application

If you need help filling out your application, you can reach out to:

  • 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 help, please contact your local ministry regional office.

Managing your funding and submitting your expenses

You have two options for managing your SSAH funding:

  • Managing your own SSAH funding: you get your own funding, buy services and supports on your own within the budget you’ve been approved for, and then submit expense claims to the ministry regional office to receive the amount back (reimbursement).
  • Funding managed by an agency: an agency manages your funding on your behalf. Please ask your local regional office for a list of agencies in your area.

Submit your expenses to the ministry

If you decide to manage your own SSAH funding, you can submit your expenses to the ministry to get money back for the cost of services or supports you purchased:

You have two options to submit your expenses:

You have one year from your Funding End Date to submit your expenses. For example, if your Funding End Date is March 31, 2024 , your expense submission deadline is March 31, 2025.

If you have outstanding invoices/receipts from previous years that you have not yet submitted to the ministry for reimbursement, you must submit these by March 31st, 2025.

Expenses submitted after this deadline will not be reimbursed by the ministry.

Use the ministry’s expense form

When completing the expense form, you must attach copies of your receipts/invoices as proof of payment for the expenses. If you submit an incomplete expense form, it will be returned to you and could delay reimbursement.

If you purchase respite services, you must complete the Respite Worker form found in Appendix A of the expense form for each worker. You will need to work with your respite worker to complete this form as it requires their information and signature. This form will serve as your receipt for the respite services provided to your child.

If you are emailing the expense form to the ministry, you can find the email addresses for the ministry regional offices listed in the expense form. If you are mailing the expense form to the ministry, you can find the mailing addresses for the ministry regional offices on the SSAH webpage.

We suggest submitting your expenses throughout the year to the ministry for reimbursement.

Use MyDirectPlan

MyDirectPlan is a tool that can help you organize and submit SSAH expenses online. With MyDirectPlan you can:

  • 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:

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. The contact information for your special agreements officer is in your approval letter. They will advise of the process to update your file which may include providing a copy of a void cheque or a letter from your banking institution with your bank account information

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.

If you decide to change the way you manage your funding or if the agency managing your funding on your behalf changes, you must notify your special agreements officer.

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.

Address change

If you change your address, please inform your special agreements officer by either mail, email or phone.

Review process

If your application is not approved and you think the decision was not fair according to SSAH rules, you can ask for a review.

There are 2 levels in the review process, and each reviews whether the decision made was fair.

First level review

A family can ask for a review by writing to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services’ Regional Office Director or someone chosen by them within 20 working days of getting the decision letter. They can ask for the review themselves or get help from someone like an advocate.

A family will:

  • be provided with a copy of the guidance on this website and asked to provide evidence about how/why they believe the guidance has not been appropriately applied to their own situation
  • be invited to provide additional supporting information
  • have the opportunity for a meeting with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services’ Regional Office Director or designate

When they get a request for a review, the Regional Office Director or someone chosen by them will pick someone who wasn't part of the first decision to look at the situation and make a recommendation.

The Director or designate will respond to the request, in writing, within 20 working days of the receipt of the request for review and/or additional documentation. The response will:

  • explain why they made the decision and show proof that it followed the rules of the SSAH program
  • show that they treated the child's application fairly and that the application was given fair consideration

Provide a description and explain what happens next in the review process

Second level review

If the family still thinks they were not treated fairly after getting a decision from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services' Regional Office Director, they can ask for another review.

Within 20 business days of receiving the decision from the first level review, the family can write to the Assistant Deputy Minister, Children with Special Needs Division to ask for this review. The Assistant Deputy Minister will have all the information from the first level review. They will choose someone who wasn't part of the first decision to review the steps taken at the regional level to determine whether the review process at the first level was followed.

The reviewer may:

  • ask the family questions to see if they understand the process
  • review the information provided by the regional office
  • review information available from other sources (for examples, local service providers involved with the family)
  • provide recommendations to the assistant deputy minister.

The review will look at:

  • if the decision was fair in the first review
  • If it complied with the guidance and goals of the SSAH program

If the assistant deputy minister overrides a decision of a regional office, the region will determine a fair and equitable funding approval.

The assistant deputy minister will respond in writing within 20 days of receiving the request for a review and/or additional information.  A decision made by the assistant deputy minister is final.

Restrictions relating to the review process

The review process is not intended to:

  • change or alter the intent of the program.
  • be a mechanism to increase the resources available in this program

Transition planning into adult services sectors

Adults with a developmental and physical disability are not eligible for SSAH funding. It is important that families start planning for their child’s transition to adulthood long before they turn 18.

When SSAH funding is approved for a child who is 17 years old, staff will:

  • suggest appropriate community linkages and resources; for example Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) local office for access to adult developmental services, and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) local office
  • establish an end-date with the family for the SSAH contract

Contact us

Payments

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.

General inquiries

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

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