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New Ontario Autism Program

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The new Ontario Autism Program will ensure autism services for children and youth are delivered consistently across the province, allow for flexibility and choice based on each child’s needs, and give families confidence in receiving quality services.

Families are now transitioning into the new OAP. The key components of the new program include:

The government is committed to ensuring families are supported through a smooth and seamless transition as they enter the new OAP. Transition planning within the new program will be individualized, planned in advance and will be achieved in partnership with each child’s family, OAP professionals and service providers. Children and youth with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder from a qualified professional will be eligible for the OAP up until the age of 18.

The province has worked closely with families, caregivers, advocates, clinicians and providers to build the new OAP, and will continue to engage with key stakeholders, including the OAP Advisory Committee, on the design and implementation of the new program. The new OAP will be fully in place by spring 2018.


This timeline outlines the phases and key milestones of implementation of the OAP from June 2017 through spring 2018.

Children will enter into the Ontario Autism Program over the next several months as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.

Beginning in June 2017

  • Single point of access: Families will join the new Ontario Autism Program through a 1-800 number for each region. Families will no longer need to apply to two separate programs, nor will they receive separate assessments or have multiple autism service plans.
  • More treatment spaces: The number of treatment spaces available province-wide will continue to increase so families will experience shorter wait times and access services sooner.
  • Child and family-centered services: Consistent, evidence-based clinical decision making will be focused on children’s individual needs and will include input from parents, service providers and educators. Autism services will be tailored to the individual needs of children and youth, regardless of age. Families will be actively involved and play a central role in the assessment, goal-setting and intervention planning process for their child.
  • Fair and transparent waitlist transition: Families will enter the OAP in chronological order, based on their position on the current waitlist. For children who are on both ABA and IBI waitlists, the position with the earliest date will be used. New families will be added to the OAP waitlist in chronological order based on their date of referral.
  • Service continuity: Families currently receiving direct funding will continue to receive funding throughout the transition, until a new direct funding option is implemented by the end of this year.

Beginning by the end of 2017

  • Ongoing engagement: The government will continue to engage with the OAP Advisory Committee, families, providers and other stakeholders throughout the transition to the new program.
  • New support workers: Family Support Workers and Support Teams will be available to help families navigate the new program and to provide individualized support. These teams could include support workers, clinicians, educators, service providers and other experts that families wish to work with on their child’s progress.
  • New appeals process: If families have concerns with their child’s plan for behavioural intervention, they will be able to request an independent review of the plan through a new appeals process.
  • More treatment spaces: The number of treatment spaces will continue to increase, to reduce wait times and provide services sooner for all families in the OAP. When a child’s spot becomes available, the child’s family will be able to choose to receive service through direct funding or direct service.
  • A choice of direct funding for all families: A new direct funding option will be available by the end of 2017 to all families who choose it. This will give families a clear, fair and transparent choice in their provider.

Spring 2018

  • Full implementation: By spring 2018, the new OAP will be fully in place.
  • Ongoing engagement: Consultations with families and service providers will continue as the new OAP is fully implemented to ensure that the OAP meets the needs of families.

Frequently Asked Questions


INTRODUCTION

  • When will families be able to access the new Ontario Autism Program (OAP)?

    The new OAP is starting to be implemented.

    Children, youth and their families will begin transitioning to the new OAP beginning June 26 and onward. Individual family transitions will differ depending on whether they are new to service, waiting for service or currently receiving service.

    We are committed to ensuring that families are supported through a smooth and seamless transition as they enter the new OAP.

    For more information about your family’s specific circumstances, please visit Ontario.ca/autism or call 1-888-284-8340 to connect with your regional office.

  • What is meant by ‘single point of access’ for services in each region?

    Families of children with autism have told us that it was challenging to apply for two separate programs, and sometimes to have to tell their story more than once. Families will be able to access services and supports more quickly and easily through one access number in each service area.

    There will be one access point to the Ontario Autism Program in each of the nine service areas. That means there will be one phone number in each of the nine service areas for families to call into.

  • What is meant by ‘services based on need’?

    The OAP will provide evidence-based behavioural services. Services will be flexible, individualized and based on a child’s unique needs and strengths.

    The needs and strengths of a child will be assessed by an OAP Clinician. The family will be fully involved in the development of a Family Service Plan that outlines their services. The Family Service Plan is a living document that families will be able to access.

    A child’s progress will be reassessed, at a minimum, every six months. At that time, the Family Service Plan will be updated as the needs and strengths of children change over time.

  • Have parents and stakeholders been involved in the design of the new Ontario Autism Program?

    Yes. The province formed the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee in August 2016. It is made up of parents, stakeholders and other experts. They are providing advice on the design and implementation of the new program, including the approach to direct funding, and will continue to do so.

    The Minister has also been meeting with parents from across the province. He has heard their stories and experiences. He will continue to engage with families throughout the development of the OAP.

ELIGIBILITY

  • Will there be an age cut-off for any reason for any child in the new OAP?

    No. In the new program, every child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis from a qualified professional will be assessed and will receive services based on his/her individual needs and strengths, regardless of age. Children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder will be eligible for the OAP until they turn 18.

  • Will children of all ages be able to receive the same services?

    Yes. All children and youth up to age 18 with an autism diagnosis from a qualified professional will be eligible for services in the new OAP. Eligibility for services will not be defined by age or by the severity of a child’s autism.

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

DIAGNOSTIC ASSESSMENTS

DIRECT FUNDING OPTION

TRANSITION INTO THE NEW OAP FOR FAMILIES IN SERVICE OR WAITING

CLINICAL DECISION MAKING

  • How will families be involved in decision-making?

    Family members are important partners in making decisions about their child’s care, and will be actively involved in the assessment, goal-setting and planning process for their children along with their clinicians, service providers and other practitioners.

  • What is the Family Service Plan? How is it developed?

    The Family Service Plan will be a living document. It will change over time. It will reflect shifting priorities, the child’s developmental stage, transition planning and progress toward goals.

    The Family Service Plan may include:

    • Key information about the child and their family, priorities, needs and strengths
    • Current and previous assessments
    • Behavioural intervention plan, including goal(s) with measureable targets
    • Transition plans within and out of the OAP
    • Family services and/or education
  • What happens if families disagree with their child’s assessment or service plan?

    Parents will be actively involved in the assessment, goal-setting and planning process for their children.

    Beginning in Fall 2017, there will be an appeals process for the OAP. Families will be able to request an independent review of their child’s plan for behavioural intervention. More details on this will follow at a later date.

  • What will the intensity of services be?

    Children will receive intervention that is flexible. The intensity and duration of services is based on their unique needs, regardless of age or severity of autism.

    The intensity and type of intervention will be different for each child. Services will change over time based on many factors in a child’s life, including developmental stage, family circumstances and school placement. Services will shift to respond to the needs and strengths of the child and family.

  • Will service be continuous or will it be provided in blocks, with families returning to waitlists, like in the current program?

    We have heard from families that the current blocks of service may not be intensive or long enough to address their child’s needs.

    Our commitment is to provide intervention that is flexible and individualized so that the intensity and duration of services will not be based on any predetermined level or time. The intensity and duration of services will be based on a child’s individual needs. Families will be actively involved in the assessment, goal setting and intervention planning process.

  • Will children/youth be “discharged” from the program?

    No. Children will remain in the OAP until they turn 18, or until their parents wish to withdraw them from the program, or they no longer have an ASD diagnosis. Individualized transition plans could be developed with input from other service providers in the community or in educational settings.

REGULATION OF ABA SERVICES

  • I heard about the government’s intent to regulate service providers, what does that mean?

    Our goal is to have safe, effective ABA services. Families need to have confidence in their providers and know where to go when they have a concern. The government is working on an approach to the oversight of ABA services that would achieve this goal.

    The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is working with the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to identify the best approach to achieving oversight of ABA practitioners.

  • Will Board Certified Behaviour Analysts continue to require supervision by a Registered Health Practitioner (RHP) in the new OAP to ensure the highest standard of care?

    Starting on June 26, and during this transition period, the Core Clinical Staffing requirements in the current program guidelines will continue to apply to those children and youth who are receiving 20 hours or more of weekly intervention. This includes clinical supervision by an individual that is registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

    The Staff Qualifications outlined in the Guidelines: Applied Behaviour Analysis-based Services and Supports for Children and Youth with ASD will apply to all other children and youth receiving services from the OAP. Professionals with the following qualifications will be involved in identifying a child’s service needs and developing a child’s plan for behavioural intervention in the OAP:

    • Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBA);
    • Clinical Psychologists registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario with expertise in ABA; and
    • Psychological Associates registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario with expertise in ABA.

    A child’s plan for behavioural intervention will be developed through a collaborative approach that may involve other professionals in identifying needs and recommending strategies, for example, Occupational Therapists and Speech and Language Pathologists. The plan may identify key roles for these professionals in delivering the skill building supports to children and youth with ASD.

  • Will clinical supervision of BCBAs be a part of the new program?

    The training, certification and experience that will be required to provide and oversee behavioural services and supports in the new OAP is currently being considered as part of the design process.


Ontario Autism Program Guidelines and Clinical Framework

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has published the new Ontario Autism Program (OAP) Guidelines and OAP Clinical Framework.

The OAP Guidelines, outline the beginning of a transformative process. Effective June 26, 2017, the OAP Guidelines will provide operational guidance for autism service agencies and set expectations for the delivery of the OAP across the province. The Guidelines will continue to evolve as we work with families, clinical experts and stakeholders over the next year on new elements of the program.

The OAP Clinical Framework, was developed by the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Expert Committee and will be used, along with the program guidelines, to guide clinicians in working with families to assess children’s needs and plan their behavioural services. The framework assists families in understanding how their children’s needs are assessed, how intervention is planned, how progress is reviewed, how transition planning is undertaken in the OAP and how families are involved in these processes. The framework will be evaluated in Fall 2017 before the OAP is fully implemented in Spring 2018.

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