Appendix: Special Needs Strategy

Working with the ministries of Community and Social Services, Education, and Health and Long-Term Care, the ministry launched a Special Needs Strategy in February 2014 with steps to improve services for children and youth with special needs and their families. This includes:

  • Identifying children with special needs earlier and getting them the right help sooner: A new preschool developmental screening process will help families, caregivers and child-serving professionals identify early signs or risks for delays to development in children from birth to 6 years of age.
  • Coordinated service planning: A new coordinated service planning process for children and youth with multiple and/or complex special needs will mean that families will have a trusted partner to help them connect with the right services and supports, without having to tell their stories multiple times.
  • Making the delivery of supports and services more seamless: Improvements to make rehabilitation services, including speech-language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, easier to access and seamlessly delivered from birth through the school years.

In 2014-15, 34 special needs service delivery areas were put in place. These service delivery areas are based on census divisions and aligned with the new child and youth mental health service delivery areas. The ministries released two provincial policy guidelines that outline the vision and the ministries' minimum expectations for coordinated service planning and the integrated delivery of rehabilitation services.

The ministries asked children's agencies and other service providers, including health service providers and district school boards, to establish proposal development tables to develop proposals for the implementation of coordinated service planning and the integrated delivery of rehabilitation services in each of the 34 service delivery areas. Proposals must fulfil the requirements outlined in the provincial policy guidelines and proposal instructions. Proposals are due to the ministries in June 2015 for coordinated service planning and in October 2015 for the integrated delivery of rehabilitation services. The developmental screening initiative is being developed by a team of scientists, researchers, and experts in the field. A Developmental Screen Provincial Consultation group is providing advice on the implementation on the screening process. The approach to implementation will be informed by research and evidence, grounded in a strong understanding of child development, emerging approaches and best practices currently being evaluated in Ontario communities and effective local service delivery models that are already in place in Ontario.

Appendix: Complex Special Needs

Through Complex Special Needs funding, the ministry continued to fund time-limited specialized supports to children and youth with complex and/or multiple needs when existing local and regional services and resources are not able to address the immediate health and safety of the child.

Children and youth receiving Complex Special Needs-funded supports include those who:

  • Have two or more special needs requiring integrated service approaches that cross sectors (e.g., health, education, and social services) with services often being provided at a number of different locations; and
  • Have needs associated with a variety of conditions (e.g., physical, intellectual, emotional, and developmental disabilities and chronic, severe and/or terminal illness) including those who are medically fragile and/or technologically dependent; and
  • Require specialized services and supports to participate in daily living activities, on a long-term, continuous and/or intermittent basis (e.g., residential services).