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Ontario's Special Needs Strategy

Ontario is taking steps to support children and youth with special needs get the timely and effective services they need at home, at school, in the community and as they transition to adulthood. We’re working together with service providers and educators across Ontario to develop these services.

Our Progress

Ontario’s Special Needs Strategy connects children and youth to the services they need as early as possible and improve the service experience of families. We are making progress in three key areas:

  1. Identifying kids’ needs earlier and connecting them to the right help sooner
    • Trained providers will have a new developmental screening process for children in the preschool years. They will screen for potential risks to the child’s development as early as possible.
  2. Coordinating service planning
    • Service planning coordinators for children and youth with multiple and/or complex special needs will connect families to the right services and supports.
  3. Making the delivery of rehabilitation services seamless
    • Integrating the delivery of rehabilitation services, specifically speech-language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Services will be easier to access and seamless from birth through the school years.

Proposals for how service providers and educators recommend implementing coordinated service planning and the local delivery of rehabilitation services have been received. We are now working with identified coordinating agencies, along with partner children’s service providers, Community Care Access Centres and school boards, to implement coordinated service planning across Ontario. Ontario will gradually start implementing coordinated service planning throughout 2016.

Coordinated service planning will provide a single service plan that considers each child or youth’s goals, strengths and needs. Service planning coordinators will lead the development of service plans and will work with families and service providers across the sectors.

The Road Ahead

We are moving towards a system that is more accessible, coordinated and centred on the needs of children, youth and their families.

We will continue to work with parents, youth, service providers and educators to improve the service experience of children and youth with special needs and their families. More information will be available as ministries and communities work together to implement coordinated service planning, and the local integrated delivery of rehabilitation services.

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