Expanding Service Options for Children and Youth with Autism
Direct Funding Service Option Will Be Offered in New Ontario Autism Program
Ontario is giving families of children with autism more options for their children's service by offering a new, permanent direct funding option, which will be implemented by the end of this year through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP).
Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau made the announcement at Monarch House in Oakville today, speaking with families about Ontario's commitment to flexible services and supports for children and youth with autism.
By the end of this year, the province will implement a new direct funding option as part of the OAP. This will allow all families to choose between receiving direct service or receiving funding to purchase services for their child. Families currently receiving direct funding will continue to receive their funding throughout the transition, and will be able to choose the new OAP direct funding option to receive services from their preferred provider.
Next month, families will begin to transition into the new OAP, which will provide services that are flexible and tailored to the unique needs of each child, regardless of age. The program will be implemented gradually over the coming year, with the program expected to be fully in place by spring 2018. The new program includes a single point of entry for families to more easily access services and will create 16,000 new spaces over five years, so that more children and youth with autism can receive the services they need sooner.
The province will continue to engage with families, caregivers, advocates, clinicians and providers, including the OAP Advisory Committee, to ensure the new program is providing the best possible supports and services for children and youth with autism, from diagnosis to adulthood.
- Parents can call 1-888-284-8340 toll-free for more information or to find their nearest ministry regional office.
- Streamlined entry to autism services through a toll-free number in families’ regions will also be provided as part of the new OAP.
- Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong, complex neurodevelopmental disorder. It is characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and interaction and repetitive behaviour. Symptoms of autism vary significantly and range in severity.
- Ontario is investing an unprecedented half-billion dollars over the next four years to create new services for children and youth with ASD.
- There are an estimated 40,000 children and youth in Ontario with ASD.
- Based on the most recent prevalence rate from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, prevalence has grown from 1 in 150 in 2002 to 1 in 68 in 2010.
“I want all families to experience a smooth transition into the new OAP starting this June. That means that families currently receiving direct funding will continue to receive that funding until the direct funding option in the new OAP is implemented later this year. I want to reassure parents the support you are receiving now through the direct funding option will not stop in June and will continue until you enter the new program. The changes we are introducing are the first steps in building an OAP that is co-ordinated, family-centred and responsive to children’s unique needs, strengths and goals.”
“After 12 years of advocating for Direct Funding (DFO), the Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) is pleased that Minister Coteau has listened, and committed the government to this funding model. DFO will give families greater choice and flexibility in service delivery at a fraction of the cost-per-child. Today's announcement is a good first step, but much work remains to be done to build the new Ontario Autism Program. The OAC will continue to hold the Minister to his promise of service for every child based on need.”
“As a provider of best practice and evidence-based treatment, Monarch House supports the move to a direct funding model that aligns the needs and goals of the child and their family with their ability to choose the most appropriate course of treatment. Improving access to care and making it easier to navigate the system through a single point of entry will help ensure families are treated equitably and in their local community wherever possible. Our continued commitment to families is to ensure that autism treatment services are provided professionally and with the necessary clinical supervision and oversight.”