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Section 1: Introduction to the Ontario Autism Program

Context

The vision of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) is an Ontario where all children and youth have the best opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential. To achieve this vision, the Ministry is committed to improving and expanding services and supports for children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families, through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP).

The OAP was introduced on June 26, 2017 with clear points of access, family-centred decision making, a collaborative approach to service, and delivery of flexible and individualized services based on the needs, strengths and goals of children/youth with autism and their families.

MCYS is continuing to build on the foundation of the OAP by introducing a direct funding option for families within the OAP and a number of key program enhancements to clarify clinical accountability and oversight and quality assurance for OAP services. The changes present more choice for families in how they receive behavioural services, improve the consistency of OAP service delivery across the province, and increase parent confidence.

Beginning on January 15, 2018, key program enhancements include:

The OAP guidelines have been updated to reflect the introduction of the direct funding option and the program enhancements noted above. The ministry will continue to work closely with families, clinical experts, service providers and other stakeholders to study how the OAP is delivered for the purpose of continuous improvement, to help children and youth with ASD reach their full potential and to improve the service experiences of families. These guidelines will continue to evolve throughout this process.

Purpose and Application

The Ontario Autism Program Guidelines (the guidelines) provide operational guidance for regional providers, partner providers, subcontractors and direct funding providers delivering the OAP for children and youth with autism.

The guidelines set out MCYS's expectations for the delivery of the OAP across the province.

These guidelines are not a clinical tool. Determining the appropriateness of behavioural interventions is the responsibility of clinicians, who are qualified to conduct behavioural assessments, develop OAP Behaviour Plans and deliver evidence based behavioural services based on the needs of the child (see Section 5.4 Clinical Staffing Requirements). As such, all providers delivering OAP services will use these guidelines in conjunction with the OAP Clinical Framework which guides clinical decision-making in the OAP (see below).

OAP Clinical Framework

The OAP Clinical Framework (the Framework) guides how OAP clinicians will work with families to assess children's needs, identify strengths and goals and plan interventions. The Framework will also help families understand how clinical decisions are made for their child. The family and child/youth's priorities will be the centre of the OAP Family Service Plan and the OAP Behaviour Plan.

Please see the OAP Clinical Framework for definitions and descriptions of the OAP Family Service Plan, the Family Support Worker, Family Team and the OAP Behaviour Plan that are referred to throughout this document.

The OAP Clinical Framework will be used by all OAP service providers to guide the assessment of need, the development of the OAP Family Service Plan, and OAP Behaviour Plan and the delivery of evidence based behavioural services. The implementation of Family Support Workers and Family Teams is being phased in across the province.

The OAP Clinical Framework will be used in conjunction with these guidelines.

Transition to the OAP

Children, youth and their families began transitioning into the OAP as of June 26, 2017. Individual family transitions will differ depending on whether their children are new to MCYS autism services, waiting for services or already receiving services. The direct funding option will be available to all families in the OAP as of January 15, 2018.

The ministry's commitment to families is that they will be supported to enter the OAP as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.

Service providers are required to adhere to the transition planning expectations and waitlist management strategies for all children, youth and families transitioning to the OAP.

For families who continue to access the one-time direct funding payment of $8,000 or the additional direct funding payments of $10,000, the posted guidelines (Guidelines: One-Time Direct Funding Autism Intervention Program; and Guidelines: Additional Direct Funding and/ or Applied Behavioural Analysis-based Services and Supports) continue to apply while they receive these payments. No new payments will be issued after March 31, 2018.

Information about the specific family transitions to the OAP is available on the ministry website at ontario.ca/autism.

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