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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, by implementing a new Ontario Autism Program (OAP).

The new OAP will transform Ontario’s existing autism behavioural services for children and youth to a more flexible and individualized program. The OAP will provide services that are co-ordinated, family-centred and responsive to children’s needs, strengths, goals and unique potential. In 2016, the Ministry committed to implement the new OAP beginning in June 2017.

This first phase of change, beginning on June 26, 2017 is primarily focused on the following key features:

These guidelines outline the first phase of implementation of the OAP and the beginning of a transformative process to a new OAP that is focused on family-centred care. There will be a transition and implementation period beginning on June 26, 2017 and continuing throughout the fall. The Ministry has also committed to implementing a new direct funding option for the OAP by the end of 2017.

The Ministry will continue to work closely with families, clinical experts, providers and other stakeholders in the design of the OAP over the next year as new elements of the program are introduced. These guidelines will continue to evolve throughout this process.

Purpose and Application

The Ontario Autism Program Guidelines (the guidelines) provide operational guidance for autism service agencies, partner providers, subcontractors and private providers (under the former Direct Funding Option – Autism Intervention Program) delivering the OAP for children and youth with autism.

The guidelines set out the Ministry of Children and Youth Services’ (MCYS/the Ministry’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 behaviour plans and deliver evidence based behavioural services based on the needs of the child (see Section 5.3 for Clinical Staffing Requirements). As such, providers will use these guidelines in conjunction with the OAP Clinical Framework which guides clinical decision-making in the OAP (see below).

These guidelines should also be used in conjunction with the following, where specifically noted during the phased implementation period:

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/or youth’s priorities will be the centre of the OAP Family Service Plan and the OAP Behaviour Plan.

Please see the OAP Clinical Framework at the following link (insert link) for definitions and descriptions of the Family Service Plan, the Family Support Worker and the Behaviour Plan that are referred to throughout this document.

Beginning in June 2017, the OAP Clinical Framework will be used by providers to guide the assessment of need, the development of the Family Service Plan, and Behaviour Plan and the delivery of evidence based behavioural services. The implementation of Family Support Workers and Family Teams will be phased in across the province with a view towards full implementation of all aspects of the Framework by the Fall 2017.

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

The OAP Clinical Framework will evolve based on an initial evaluation of the first group of children and youth who enter the program between September 2017 and January 2018. Feedback from this evaluation will inform any changes required before full implementation of the OAP in Spring 2018.

Transition to the OAP

Children, youth and their families will begin transitioning into the new OAP as of June 26, 2017. Individual family transitions will differ depending on whether their children are new to MCYS autism services, are already receiving service or are waiting for service in the former Autism Intervention Program or the Applied Behaviour Analysis-based Services and Supports program.

The Ministry’s commitment to families is that they will be supported during this phased implementation and that it is as smooth and seamless as possible.

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

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

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