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Ontario Autism Program - Information for Practitioners

The Ontario Autism Program

Ontario is taking action to improve access to services and supports so that more families of children and youth with autism can receive service.

Starting April 1, 2019, through the Ontario Autism Program, families of children with autism will be provided with timely access to Childhood Budgets so they can purchase the services they value most from the providers of their choice. This will support children to achieve their goals at home, at school, in the community and as they transition into adulthood.

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News and Updates

Ontario is improving access to services and supports so that more families of children and youth with autism can receive service.

Introducing Childhood Budgets starting April 1, 2019

New Childhood Budgets will provide more families with access to a broader range of eligible services that they believe are most helpful for their child and family. This will include behavioural services including assessments and consultations, family/caregiver capacity building and training, respite services, technology aids, and travel.

Childhood Budgets will be available for children up to age 18 and will be subject to annual income testing. Families currently on the waitlist for services can expect to receive their budgets within the next 18 months.

The amount of the budget will depend on the length of time a child will be in the program and household income. For example, a child entering the program at age two would be eligible to receive up to $140,000, while a child entering at age seven would receive up to $55,000, during their time in the program. Families with an annual household income under $250,000 will be eligible to receive funding. Eligibility and the amount of funding a family receives will be reviewed annually.

Expanding Ontario’s five autism diagnostic hubs

Ontario is doubling funding to the hubs over the next two years to help more children receive an autism diagnosis sooner and help connect families to local services in their communities.

Evidence shows that when children start behavioural intervention between ages two and five, they gain improvements in cognitive and language development, are better prepared for school and have better long-term outcomes in adulthood.

Establishing a family-focused, independent intake agency

A new intake independent agency will assist families in registering for the program, assess their funding eligibility, provide them with their Childhood Budgets and offer support to help them choose which services to purchase.

Supporting families through change

While the independent intake agency is being established over the next year, Autism Ontario will be playing a key role in offering support to families to help them understand their options and to assist them in finding service providers through workshops, training sessions and individual support. Autism Ontario will not be involved in registration, intake, waitlist management or funding distribution for the Ontario Autism Program.

Improving accountability and oversight

The government is taking steps to enhance service delivery, improve confidence in service providers and ensure the long-term sustainability of the Ontario Autism Program.

This includes introducing a deadline of April 1, 2021 for clinical supervisors to meet the program’s qualification requirements, conducting regular financial audits of Childhood Budgets, and implementing an online list of verified qualified service providers to help families access behavioural services.

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Service Delivery Tools

Until March 31, 2019, service providers are expected to continue to use the service delivery tools listed below and all associated processes for developing and delivering behaviour plans.

Note: Addendum - Changes to the OAP Guidelines and OAP Behaviour Plan Budget Template and Instructions - effective February 6, 2019

Existing Ontario Autism Program Behaviour Plans

Following the announcement of changes, providers are expected to continue to deliver the services outlined in a child or youth’s behaviour plan following the requirements set out in the Ontario Autism Program Clinical Framework and Ontario Autism Program Guidelines. Service providers will submit a Clinical Supervisor Attestation and Ontario Autism Program Behaviour Plan Budget as part of the package. This applies to any behavior plans developed or renewed before March 31, 2019.

Further information for developing behaviour plans, including the key elements and details that must be included, can be found in the Ontario Autism Program Behaviour Plan Instructions and Ontario Autism Program Guidelines.

Please note: After April 1, 2019, families receiving Ontario Autism Program Childhood Budgets to purchase services and supports will no longer require behaviour plans.

More information will be available in April.

Please note, effective immediately:

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Information for Practitioners Supporting Families


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Frequently Asked Questions

Transition Period
  1. What do changes to the program mean for families who are receiving services or who have already submitted a behaviour plan to a Single Point of Access?

    If a child is currently receiving services, they will continue to receive services outlined in their current Behaviour Plan until the plan’s end date.

    It is important to note that all active Behaviour Plans will be honoured; families entering into a new Behaviour Plan or renewing their current Behaviour Plan before March 31, 2019 will be able to do so for a maximum duration of 3 months.

    All new or renewed plans must be submitted to a Single Point of Access by March 31, 2019.

    Additional information will be available in April.

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  2. If a child’s current behaviour plan ends on or before March 31, 2019, can it be renewed?

    All children who currently have a behaviour plan will continue to receive the services outlined in their behaviour plan until its end date.

    If a child’s behaviour plan ends before March 31, 2019, you will be able to renew it for a maximum of three months. The service hours a child receives per week in their renewed behaviour plan must be equal to or less than the hours they received per week in their previous plan. All renewed plans must be signed and submitted to a Single Point of Access by March 31, 2019.

    If families have questions about the intensity and duration of their child’s renewed Behaviour Plan, they are encouraged to speak to their clinical supervisor.

    As a child gets close to the end of their renewed behaviour plan, the family will receive information and be supported to apply for a Childhood Budget.

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  3. What happens if a child’s current behaviour plan ends after March 31, 2019?

    All children who currently have a behaviour plan will continue to receive the services outlined in their behaviour plan until its end date.

    If a child’s behaviour plan ends after March 31, 2019, as they get close to the end of their plan the family will receive information and be supported to apply for a Childhood Budget.

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  4. If a family is currently in the process of developing a behaviour plan that is not yet signed, what do the changes to the program mean for them?

    If a family is currently working with a service provider to develop a new plan, but it has yet to be signed, they will still be able to enter into a new behaviour plan. The plan will be for a maximum of three months and must be signed and submitted to a Single Point of Access by March 31, 2019.

    As a child gets close to the end of their behaviour plan, the family will receive information and be supported to apply for a Childhood Budget.

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  5. What happens if a child’s spot in the program becomes available before March 31, 2019?

    If a child’s spot becomes available before March 31, 2019, the family will be contacted by their Single Point of Access. Their chosen service provider will work with them to develop a behaviour plan for a maximum of three months.

    All behaviour plans must be signed and submitted to a Single Point of Access by March 31, 2019.

    As a child gets close to the end of their behaviour plan, the family will receive information and be supported to apply for a Childhood Budget.

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  6. What happens if a family is on the waitlist on April 1, 2019?

    All eligible families who are still on the waitlist on April 1, 2019 can expect to receive their Childhood Budgets within the next 18 months.

    As a child approaches the top of the waitlist, the family will receive information and be supported to apply for a Childhood Budget.

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  7. If a family is already registered in the Ontario Autism Program, will they need to register again?

    If a family is already registered for the program, they do not need to register again.

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  8. How do families register for the Ontario Autism Program?

    All children and youth under the age of 18 with a written diagnosis of autism from a qualified professional can register for the Ontario Autism Program. Families can register by contacting their local Single Point of Access.

    Once a family has submitted their written diagnosis to the Single Point of Access, they will be registered for the program and their child will be added to the waitlist.

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  9. What processes are service providers expected to follow to continue delivering Ontario Autism Program Behaviour Plans while the new program is being introduced?

    If a family has a behaviour plan, or enters into a new plan by March 31, 2019, and is receiving services through the direct funding option, service providers are expected to continue to follow the process for reimbursement process in the Ontario Autism Plan Budget.

    Service providers are also expected to continue to complete the Ontario Autism Program Clinical Supervisor Attestation and to submit this document as part of the behavioural service package.

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  10. Are service providers expected to continue to follow the Ontario Autism Program Guidelines and the Ontario Autism Program Clinical Framework?

    Service providers will continue to deliver services outlined in a child’s behaviour plan following requirements set out in the Ontario Autism Program Clinical Framework and Ontario Autism Program Guidelines. This applies to any new or renewed behaviour plans developed on or before March 31, 2019.

    More information about requirements in the program will be available in April.

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Ontario Autism Program Childhood Budget
  1. What is a Childhood Budget?

    New Childhood Budgets will provide more families with access to a broader range of eligible services that they believe are most helpful for their child and family. Childhood Budgets will be available for children up to age 18 and will be subject to annual income testing. Families currently on the waitlist for services can expect to receive their budgets within the next 18 months.

    The amount of the budget will depend on the length of time a child will be in the program and household income. For example, a child entering the program at age two would be eligible to receive up to $140,000, while a child entering at age seven could receive up to $55,000, during their time in the program.

    Families with an annual household income under $250,000 will be eligible to receive funding. Eligibility and the amount of funding a family receives will be reviewed annually.

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  2. Who is eligible to receive a Childhood Budget and how is funding determined?

    All children and youth under the age of 18 with a written diagnosis of autism from a qualified professional are eligible to register for the Ontario Autism Program.

    Budgets will be determined by the length of time a child will be in the program and the family’s household income. Families with an annual household income under $250,000 will be eligible to receive funding.

    Once a child’s spot in the program becomes available the family will be contacted by a program representative and be supported to apply for a Childhood Budget.

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  3. What kinds of services and supports are eligible through the Childhood Budgets?

    Through Childhood Budgets, families will have control and more options to purchase the eligible services and supports they value most from the providers of their choice on a fee-for-service basis.

    This will include behavioural services including assessments and consultations, family/caregiver capacity building and training, respite services, technology aids and travel.

    A complete list of eligible and non-eligible expenses will be available in April 2019.

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  4. If a family has two children with autism, can they apply to receive a Childhood Budget for each child?

    If a family has two children with autism, they can apply to receive a Childhood Budget for each child. The total Childhood Budget for each child will be determined by the length of time the child is in the program and the family’s household income.

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  5. Can families appeal their Ontario Autism Program Childhood Budget amount?

    The total Childhood Budget amount for each family will vary based on the length of time a child is in the program and household income.

    These factors will be applied in the same way for all families and exceptions cannot be made for individual families. As a result, Childhood Budget amounts may not be appealed.

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  6. Will there be a maximum number of service hours or maximum duration for behavioural services purchased with Childhood Budgets?

    To give families choice, control and flexibility, there will be no provincially-set maximum number of hours or duration for the delivery of behavioural services.

    Families can choose to purchase behavioural services through their Childhood Budgets and families will be able to choose the number of hours they would like to purchase.

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Behavioural Services
  1. What are the roles and responsibilities of behavioural clinicians in the Ontario Autism Program?

    Professionals who provide behavioural services are called behavioural clinicians. They often work in teams.

    A clinical supervisor leads the team and develops and oversees behavioural services. This person may be called a clinical supervisor, a clinician-in-charge or a clinical director.

    Front-line therapists help to deliver the behavioural services and may work directly with children. They are trained and supervised by the clinical supervisor and have varying levels of experience and responsibility.

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  2. Does the ministry plan to regulate behavioural clinicians?

    Beginning in April 2019, the ministry will be implementing an online list of verified providers to help families find qualified clinical supervisors. We are also introducing a deadline of April 1, 2021 for clinical supervisors to meet the program qualifications requirements.

    The ministry is exploring oversight options for behavioural clinicians in Ontario, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

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  3. What qualifications do I need to clinically supervise behavioural services in the Ontario Autism Program?

    All clinical supervisors of behavioural services must have the following qualifications by April 1, 2021:

    1. One of the following professional credentials:
      • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA or BCBA-Doctoral)
      • Registered Psychologist or Psychological Associate, with documented expertise in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)
    2. At least 3,000 hours of experience (usually obtained over two years) delivering ABA services to children and youth with autism. This experience must:
      • have been acquired after the person obtained their professional designation
      • include at least 1,500 hours of supervisory tasks
    3. A Vulnerable Sector Screening or police records check
    4. Professional liability insurance (purchased individually or through their employer)

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  4. Are there any qualifications requirements for front-line therapists or other professionals involved in delivering services?

    At this time, the qualifications requirements are restricted to clinical supervisors of behavioural services. There are recommended qualifications for front line providers of behavioural services.

    There are no qualifications requirements for other professionals in the program.

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  5. When do I need to have all the clinical supervisor qualifications?

    To clinically supervise behavioural services in the program, you must meet all of the qualifications requirements by April 1, 2021.

    For now, you can continue to clinically supervise behavioural services as long as you provide details on your plan and timeframe to achieve the qualifications on the Ontario Autism Program Clinical Supervisor Attestation Form. You must prepare a signed Attestation Form for each client to receive funding.

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  6. Why are there qualifications for clinical supervisors?

    Families and stakeholders have raised concerns about inconsistencies in the qualifications of behavioural clinicians. These inconsistencies have made it difficult for families to make informed choices.

    The qualifications set clear expectations so that families who choose to purchase behavioural services are working with professionals who have the minimum training and experience needed to practice safely, ethically and competently.

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  7. What can I do if I’m unable to upgrade my qualifications?

    You can continue to provide behavioural services in the program if you are supervised by a behavioural clinician who has all the required clinical supervisor qualifications.

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  8. How will my qualifications be verified?

    The Ontario Autism Program Provider List will be available for families online beginning in April 2019. It will include verified behavioural clinicians who have all the qualifications to be a clinical supervisor of behavioural services. The qualifications of all applicants will be reviewed through a formal approval process.

    More information on the provider list will be shared soon.

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  9. Is it mandatory for all service providers to qualify for the provider list?

    Clinical supervisors can choose to join the provider list on a voluntary basis beginning April 1, 2019. Beginning April 1, 2021 it will be mandatory for all clinical supervisors to be part of the provider list. For now, as long you have, or are working towards, the qualifications requirements, you can continue to clinically supervise behavioural services in the Ontario Autism Program. If you are not a member of the provider list, you must continue to provide an Ontario Autism Program Clinical Supervisor Attestation Form for every client.

    Front-line therapists are not required to join the provider list.

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  10. How can I get on the provider list?

    The provider list will begin accepting applications in spring 2019. More information on the provider list will be shared as it becomes available.

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  11. Will there be an application or membership fee to join the provider list?

    No. However, applicants will be responsible for paying any costs to obtain documents for the application package.

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Independent Clinical Review Process
  1. If a family is not satisfied with their behavioural plan, what should they do?

    If a family is not satisfied with their behaviour plan developed or renewed by March 31, 2019 they should raise their concerns with their service provider. The provider will try to address the concerns through their internal conflict resolution/complaints process. If the family remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the provider's internal review, they can turn to the Independent Clinical Review Process.

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  2. What is the Independent Clinical Review Process?

    Children, youth and their families are partners in the intervention planning process. As such, the Independent Clinical Review Process allows families who disagree with decisions regarding their child's behaviour plan to request a review.

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  3. How does the clinical review process work?

    If the family remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the review, they can request an Independent Clinical Review of their child's behaviour plan when it is developed or renewed. The independent clinical review coordinator, a third party agency, is responsible for administering the review process.

    The process works as follows:

    1. To initiate a review, the family will complete and submit a request form to the Independent Clinical Review outlining their concerns with their behaviour plan.
    2. The service provider will send the child's case file materials, including the behaviour plan, to the coordinator, who will de-identify the child's case file to protect the confidentiality of the family and child.
    3. The case file will be assigned to a review committee, composed of two clinicians, a board certified behaviour analyst and a psychologist or psychological associate. They are jointly responsible for making a decision about the child's behaviour plan. The committee also includes a family representative – a parent, guardian or primary caregiver of a child with autism, who will work with the family to ensure that the family's perspective is clear and understood during the review process.
    4. Review committees can either accept behaviour plans as is, or send them back for revisions or more information. Families will receive a decision no later than 45 business days from the date the request was submitted to their service provider.

    For more information, please refer to the family information on the Independent Clinical Review Process.

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Accessing Other Services
  1. Can children with autism continue to access other services that are not part of the Ontario Autism Program after April 1, 2019?

    Families of children with autism who are eligible can access other ministry programs for children with special needs, such as:

    • healthy child development programs including Healthy Babies Healthy Children, Early Years Check-In, Infant Development Program, Preschool Speech and Language
    • rehabilitation services delivered by Children’s Treatment Centres, including speech-language services, occupational therapy and physiotherapy
    • special needs resource teachers in child care settings

    Families, where eligible, can also continue to access the Special Services at Home and the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities programs.

    Youth with developmental disabilities, including eligible youth with autism who are preparing for adulthood, can access integrated transition planning. Beginning at age 14, every young person with a developmental disability can have a written plan developed that:

    • informs educational planning
    • helps the young person transition from secondary school and from youth services to adulthood
    • helps prepare family members for these transitions
    • identifies goals for work, further schooling, and community living

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  2. How are you supporting school-aged children and youth with autism?

    Autism service providers are encouraged to continue to collaborate with educators to support children to build the skills they need to be ready for school, to transition to school and participate fully in school.

    The ministry will continue to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to provide transition services and supports to children and youth with autism through the Connections for Students program.

    For students who have been identified as an exceptional pupil by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC), the school board must develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for them. School boards may also develop IEPs for students who are receiving special education programs and/or related services but who have not been identified as exceptional by an IPRC.

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Additional Resources

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