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Autism - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is new in the Ontario Autism Program (OAP)?

    Ontario is providing families of children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with more choice, consistency and confidence in the OAP by introducing a direct funding option for evidence based behavioural services, and implementing a number of key program enhancements to deliver safe and effective services.

    To learn more about what’s new in the OAP, please click here.

  2. How have families and stakeholders been involved in helping to improve services for children and youth with autism in the OAP?

    The Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) is working closely with families, stakeholders and other experts to design the OAP, ensuring the needs of children, youth, and families are put first, and that the interests of families are at the heart of the program.

    The ministry will continue to work with key stakeholders, families and other experts to continuously improve how the program is delivered. The Minister of Children and Youth Services has also met with parents and stakeholders from across the province to hear their experiences. He will continue to engage with families in the coming months.

  3. What is an OAP Family Service Plan? Is this different than the OAP Behaviour Plan?

    Yes, the OAP Family Service Plan is different than the OAP Behaviour Plan.

    The OAP Family Service Plan captures the broader range of services and supports, activities, interests, and goals of each child or youth and their family. It is a document that changes over time to reflect the changing priorities of the family, the child’s developmental stage, progress toward goals, and transition planning. The OAP Family Service Plan is created by the regional provider.

    The OAP Behaviour Plan is a key component of the Family Service Plan. The OAP Behaviour Plan is a detailed description of the evidence based behavioural services that a child or youth and their family will receive in the OAP. The OAP Behaviour Plan is based on clinical expertise from the Clinical Supervisor, input from the family, and a clear understanding of the family’s goals, strengths and priorities. To learn more about the OAP Behaviour Plan, please see the OAP Clinical Framework.

    The OAP offers a variety of evidence based behavioural services through a strengths-based approach that empowers families to develop skills and knowledge in partnership with their providers to address needs as they arise. This includes Applied Behaviour Analysis. (See p. 24-26 of the OAP Guidelines for more information).

  4. Who is my Clinical Supervisor?

    Clinical Supervisors are Behavioural Clinicians who will be accountable for overseeing all aspects of a child/youth’s OAP Behaviour Plan, working closely with families, therapists, and inter-professional partners, and may have a variety of titles, such as Clinician-in-Charge or something similar.

  5. How will my child be assessed? Will any assessment tools be used?

    Children are assessed by the Clinical Supervisor. Assessments may include observations and the use of clinical tools, but the OAP Guidelines do not mandate the use of any particular tool.

    The OAP Family Service Plan and OAP Behaviour Plan are based on a comprehensive understanding of a child or youth and their family. Information about the child or youth’s unique strengths and needs is gathered through a variety of ways. Behaviour plans are developed using feedback from the family and a clear understanding of the parents’ and child or youth’s expectations, strengths and goals.

    For more information, please see the OAP Clinical Framework and OAP Guidelines.

  6. What is a Family Support Worker?

    A Family Support Worker is the primary point of contact within the OAP for a family, who assists with service navigation and provides ongoing support to families. With the introduction of the direct funding option in the OAP, Family Support Workers will also help families to make informed decisions about their service options.

    The Family Support Worker title may differ across regional providers. After initial contact, families are able to choose if and when they access the services of a Family Support Worker. Please contact your regional provider to learn more about the Family Support Worker role.

  7. What is the new direct funding option and what can families expect from it?

    The new direct funding option provides families in the OAP with the choice to receive funding to purchase evidence based behavioural services for their child or youth.

    Effective January 15, 2018, Ontario is increasing the maximum hourly rate for evidence based behavioural services purchased through the direct funding option from $39 per hour to a maximum of up to $55 per hour. To learn more about this change, please refer to question 11.

  8. What happens to families currently receiving $10,000 direct funding payments?

    If your family is currently accessing $10,000 direct funding payments, your regional provider will work with you to discuss the OAP and next steps for your family. It is important to note here that you will experience no gaps in services.

    At this discussion, your family will be supported to make a choice of either entering the OAP or receiving another $10,000 payment. You may continue accessing $10,000 payments, as per posted Guidelines, until March 31, 2018.

    You may begin planning your move into the OAP at any time. We encourage you to contact your regional provider at any time to prepare, ask questions and begin planning. This may be at your next reconciliation point.

    Learn more about receiving service.

  9. What if I have signed a contract with a provider that extends past March 31, 2018?

    Families who may have signed a contract with a provider that extends past March 31, 2018 are encouraged to reach out to their regional provider to discuss next steps. You will experience no gaps in services.

    The ministry is committed to working with and supporting families of children and youth with autism to enter the program as seamlessly and smoothly as possible.

  10. Is there a maximum amount families can receive per year for OAP direct funding?

    There is no maximum amount of funding families can receive in the OAP. The amount given to each family is determined by their child/youth’s individualized OAP Behaviour Plan.

    The OAP direct funding option will begin to be available for families in the OAP on January 15, 2018. Families entering the OAP can expect to be offered a choice of receiving evidence based behavioural services through a regional provider or receiving direct funding to purchase evidence based behavioural services. If you have chosen to receive services through the direct funding option, your OAP Behaviour Plan will be funded up to a maximum of $55 per hour for evidence based behavioural services. Your regional provider will issue funding for services as outlined in your OAP Behaviour Plan.

  11. What happens if my current provider charges more than $55 per hour?

    Families are encouraged to work with their providers to understand the hourly rate for services being offered.

    Effective January 15, 2018, Ontario is increasing the maximum hourly rate for evidence based behavioural services purchased through the direct funding option from $39 per hour to a maximum of up to $55 per hour.

    If a family has chosen to receive behavioural services through the direct funding option, their chosen provider will work with them to develop an OAP Behaviour Plan that reflects the child’s needs, strengths and goals. The Behaviour Plan will also include a proposed budget for service, and will be funded up to a maximum of $55 per hour for evidence based behavioural services.

  12. How was the rate of $55 per hour calculated?

    Effective January 15, 2018, Ontario is increasing the maximum hourly rate for evidence based behavioural services purchased through the direct funding option from $39 per hour to a maximum of up to $55 per hour.

    The increase in the rate is based on information, including inflation and adjustments for cost of living over the past 10 years.

    The ministry will initiate consultations on the development of a transparent fee schedule for the full range of OAP services.

  13. How will the ministry ensure accountability and quality of evidence based behavioural services?

    The ministry will introduce new required qualifications for Clinical Supervisors in the OAP so that families feel confident they are receiving consistent, high-quality behavioural services. Information about the new required qualifications 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.

    An OAP Provider List will be implemented in 2018 to help families select a qualified OAP service provider.

    The ministry will also introduce a quality assurance review process in spring 2018. OAP Behaviour Plans, from both direct funding and direct service providers, will be randomly selected for review by a team of third-party clinical reviewers, to further support evidence based service delivery.

  14. What are the new qualifications requirements for providers of OAP behavioural services and when will they take effect?

    Information about the new required qualifications for Clinical Supervisors in the OAP 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.

    Clinical Supervisors will be accountable for overseeing all aspects of a child/youth’s OAP Behaviour Plan, working closely with families, therapists, and inter-professional partners, and may have a variety of titles, such as Clinician-in-Charge or something similar.

    To further support families in selecting service providers, the ministry is also developing suggested qualifications of frontline therapists delivering OAP behavioural services. These recommendations will also be communicated by January 2018, but will not be program requirements. Note these are suggested recommendations, and will not affect your service.

  15. What if a family is happy with their Clinical Supervisor but the supervisor does not currently meet the new qualifications requirements?

    Clinical Supervisors who do not currently have the required qualifications can continue to provide services as long as they are working towards achieving these qualifications and confirm the timeframe within which they expect to achieve them.

    Compliance with the requirements will be phased in over time. This will not disrupt services for families.

    Information and tools will be made available to families to assist them in finding qualified providers.

    The ministry will continue to collaborate with industry partners to build up workforce capacity over time, including supporting all OAP providers to obtain the qualifications they need to supervise OAP services. This work will also inform the establishment of a timeline by which all Clinical Supervisors will need to be in compliance with the required qualifications.

  16. How long will it take for Clinical Supervisors that don’t meet the new required qualifications to achieve them?

    The specific time that it takes a professional to achieve the required qualifications will depend on the individual and the qualifications and experience they already have.

    The ministry will continue to collaborate with industry partners to build up workforce capacity over time, including supporting all OAP providers to obtain the qualifications they need to supervise OAP services. This work will inform the establishment of a timeline by which all Clinical Supervisors will need to be in compliance with the required qualifications.

  17. What can families do if they disagree with their child or youth’s OAP Behaviour Plan?

    Effective January 15, 2018, the new Independent Clinical Review Process will allow families in the OAP the opportunity to request a review of key components of their child or youth’s OAP Behaviour Plan. The review will be conducted by a team of two clinicians and a Family Representative.

    The clinical reviewers will be responsible for reviewing the case file and the OAP Behaviour Plan. The Family Representative will ensure the family’s perspective is clear and understood in the review process.

  18. What steps has the Ministry taken towards the regulation of ABA practitioners?

    The ministry is collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) to explore an oversight approach for Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) services in Ontario.

    The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care has made a referral to the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council asking for advice on whether there is a risk of harm associated with the provision of ABA services and, if there is a risk of harm, to provide a range of options for an approach to oversight.

    Although children’s autism services represent a significant portion of ABA services in Ontario, ABA is also used in other children’s and adult areas of service delivery. As part of the development of a recommended approach for the oversight of these services, MCYS will continue to partner with MOHLTC and the Ministries of Education and Community and Social Services.

  19. Who is eligible to receive services in the OAP?

    All children and youth up to age 18 with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder from a qualified professional are eligible for services in the OAP. Eligibility for services is not defined by age or by the severity of a child’s autism.

    Services are flexible and individualized. Children will receive services based on their needs and strengths, regardless of age.

  20. How is the ministry ensuring families enter the OAP smooth and seamlessly, with no gaps in service?

    We are committed to supporting families of children and youth with autism to enter the program as seamlessly and smoothly as possible.

    Each family’s entry into the OAP may differ depending on whether their child is new to service, waiting for service, or already receiving services. Please click here for more information about your family’s specific circumstances.

    You may also contact your OAP single point of access in your region if you have questions. A list with contacts is available here. You can also call 1-888-284-8340 to connect with your regional office.

  21. How can a family find out where their child or youth is on the waitlist?

    For information about the waitlist, families can contact their regional provider who will share the following information:

    • The date on which their child or youth was referred;
    • The date of referral for the children or youth most recently served;
    • The local factors that could influence their child or youth’s wait time; and
    • The availability of foundational parent/caregiver services and/or family services and training to support the active engagement of parents/caregivers in their child’s care.
  22. Where can families go for more information about the OAP?