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Ontario Autism Program (OAP)

Archived Backgrounder

Ontario Autism Program (OAP)

The vision of the new Ontario Autism Program (OAP) is to provide children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with access to the timely and effective services they need to achieve their goals at home, at school, in the community and as they transition into adulthood.

The OAP is built on four foundational principles:

  • Choice: Children, youth and families are actively engaged in their child's care, and their choice in care is presented in a transparent, balanced and supportive way.
  • Consistency: The same standard of care is maintained across Ontario.
  • Confidence: All children, youth and their families can expect to receive high quality, evidence-based behavioural services delivered by experienced, qualified and knowledgeable clinicians.
  • Continuous Improvement: Services are flexible and responsive to changing evidence and best practice. The design of the OAP continues to evolve, setting the building blocks for future change and improvement.

Ontario is introducing enhancements to the OAP beginning in January 2018. These enhancements build on those already announced earlier this year, including:

  • Introducing flexible, individualized services based on need;
  • Changing eligibility so that all children and youth with a diagnosis of ASD from a qualified professional will be eligible for services until the age of 18;
  • Offering a single point of access, including a telephone number for parents to call, in nine areas across Ontario to make it easier for families to access autism services;
  • Implementing Family Support Workers and the OAP Family Team to better support families and the central role they play in their child or youth's services.

Enhancements Beginning in January 2018

What's happening What it means for families
A new direct funding option for evidence-based behavioural services will be available to families in the OAP.
  • Families entering the OAP will be given the choice of receiving services from a regional provider or receiving direct funding to purchase behavioural services through a qualified provider when their spot becomes available.
  • Ontario's goal is one waitlist, regardless of choice, and that both options are available when a child comes to the top of the waitlist. The province will work with providers to monitor and assess progress on the availability and equity of service options for families.
  • The maximum hourly rate for evidence based behavioural services will increase from $39 per hour to a maximum of up to $55 per hour for families who choose the direct funding option.
Communicate new qualifications requirements for Clinical Supervisors
  • Families will be able to feel confident they will receive high-quality services delivered by experienced, qualified and knowledgeable clinicians, regardless of the service option they choose.
  • Information about new qualifications requirements will be released by mid-January 2018. For Clinical Supervisors who may not meet the qualifications, compliance with the requirements will be phased in over time. This will not disrupt services for families.
  • Recommended qualifications will also be introduced for front-line therapists.
  • Information and tools will be made available to families to assist them in finding qualified providers.
All Clinical Supervisors will begin using a self-report checklist.
  • A self-report checklist completed by a clinical supervisor will confirm that each OAP behaviour plan complies with the OAP Clinical Framework and Program Guidelines.
  • Families can feel confident the services they are receiving are evidence-based and consistent with ministry requirements.
Implementation of a family-initiated Independent Clinical Review Process (ICR).
  • The ICR will be available to allow families to request a review of key components of their child's or youth's OAP behaviour plan.
  • The process will include a clinical review by two clinicians and a family representative, who will ensure the family's perspective is clear and understood in the process.
Changing accountability and clinical oversight of direct funding providers by direct service providers.
  • Direct service providers will no longer approve behaviour plans submitted by direct funding providers. They will maintain an administrative function in order to distribute funding.
  • This spring, the province will begin a study to examine system management changes including the separation of service delivery and administrative functions. This analysis will include engagement with providers and families.

Enhancements for Spring 2018 and Beyond

What's happening What it means for families
An OAP provider list will be posted online.
  • An OAP provider list will also be made public in 2018 to support families in selecting a qualified OAP service provider.
  • The list will include a formal process to verify the qualifications of practitioners who wish to provide behavioural services in the OAP.
Implementation of a quality assurance review process of OAP Behaviour Plans
  • OAP behaviour plans, developed by both the direct funding and direct service providers, will be randomly selected for independent clinical reviews by a third-party review team.
  • Plans will be selected randomly, not through a family-initiated review process. This process will not result in any service interruption for the child, youth or family.
  • This process will offer increased accountability and give families confidence they are getting high-quality, evidence-based services.
A common set of OAP orientation materials will be made available to OAP providers and families.
  • Orientation materials will include items such as videos and online resources to help orient families to the new OAP.
  • A common set of materials will help ensure families receive consistent information about the OAP and their service options.
Consultations on the development of a transparent fee schedule.
  • Consultations will be conducted with families as well as direct funding and regional providers.
  • Based on these consultations, a transparent fee schedule for OAP services will be developed to help provide fair and reasonable billing for OAP services according to a clear and consistent model.
  • This will provide families and providers with more choice and flexibility in services.

Families are encouraged to contact their regional provider to discuss what these changes mean for them.

The province continues to work with families, experts and ministry partners to build and strengthen how the OAP is delivered, to improve the experiences of families and to help children and youth with ASD reach their fullest potential.

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Health and Wellness Children and Youth Parents