Temporary changes due to COVID-19 in the SSAH program

Learn about funding available through the Special Services at Home program that can help with costs related to respite, personal growth and development for your child with physical and/or developmental disabilities.

Temporary wage increase for direct support workers extended

As of October 1, 2020, workers who provide personal support services are eligible for a temporary wage increase. This temporary increase has been extended until March 31, 2022.

We are offering temporary support to cover this wage increase for people and families who pay for services from eligible direct support workers with funds from direct funding programs. These changes apply to support workers who provide:

Learn more about this temporary funding and how to get it.

Temporary changes

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have made temporary changes to the Special Services at Home program to help recipients. These changes came into effect April 1, 2020. Families who are eligible to receive program funding in 2020/21 can now purchase supports according to the existing program guidelines and these temporary changes. Read on for more details about these changes.

New eligible expenses

We are temporarily expanding the list of eligible expenses under the Special Services at Home program to support people and their families while community-based activities and settings are closed. These changes allow families to use funding for goods and services that may make it easier to stay at home during this time and practise physical distancing.

New eligible expenses include:

  1. Sensory Items
    • To support children and youth who rely on sensory items to alleviate anxiety/stress and/or support any clinical or behavioural plans.
      • e.g. multi-sensory related products and technologies.
  2. Technology
    • Provide children and youth the means and ability to stay safe, connected, and occupied and engaged at home, including in virtual and online learning and skill development activities. These items include:
      • Laptops and tablets;
      • Online educational and e-learning activities and resources;
      • Videogames and videogame systems;
      • Webcams and microphones;
      • Media service subscriptions and platforms (e.g. Netflix, Xbox Live, Disney+) (Note: this will not include cancellation fees);
      • E-readers (e.g. Kindle or Kobo); and
      • Remote monitoring devices and medical alert services and devices.
    • The approval of technology will also support the virtual engagement of people with disabilities and connections for families, providing some relief from caregiving requirements and alleviating some of the impacts of physical distancing.
  3. Items to support home-based recreation and fitness activities
    • Supplies to support home-based hobbies and activities that would otherwise be accessed through day programs, school and other community-based programs. Some examples include, but are not limited to:
      • Arts and craft supplies;
      • Hobby supplies;
      • Puzzles and games; and
      • Books for leisure/learning.
    • Supplies to support home-based physical activity and fitness. Some examples may include, but are not limited to:
      • Indoor items and equipment (e.g. skipping rope, yoga mat, resistance bands); and
      • fitness/sport equipment and supplies that may be used on the individual’s property (e.g. basketball net, trampoline, frisbee, badminton set)
  4. Personal Protective Equipment and Supplies, When Available
    • To enable children and youth, their families and their support workers to be supported more safely at home or as required, in the community, which may be of heightened importance to children/adults who are immunocompromised. This includes items such as:
      • Gloves;
      • Masks;
      • Gowns;
      • Cleaning supplies (e.g. disinfectant wipes, sprays, and hand sanitizer); and
      • Goggles and face shields.
  5. Essential Service Delivery Fees
    • Where families are unable to leave their homes for groceries or pharmacy needs because of the vulnerability of their family member and/or because of their care requirements, service delivery fees for essential items such as groceries and medication will be an admissible expense. (Note: this does not include the actual cost of the groceries and/or medications, just the service fee for delivery).
    • Delivery fees for takeout food from restaurants are not included.
  6. Behavioural Support Plans and Related Interventions
    • Behavioural supports and interventions intended to assist families to more safely support their child at home. This may include:
      • development of behavioural support plans and recommended interventions (delivered in person or remotely/virtually)
      • Support strategies to reduce challenging behaviours or potential crisis situations.
      • Note: This does not include physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy.

Read more about these temporary changes in the April 2020 addendum to the program guidelines. All other inadmissible expenditures outlined in the program guidelines remain in effect.

These changes are temporary and the existing program terms and conditions will continue to apply upon the government providing notice. You will be given as much advanced notice as possible to prepare for the return of regular business once the government provides notice.

Funding in advance

Special Services at Home recipients who were enrolled in the program in 2019/20 may be eligible to receive funding in advance of processing their expense claims. This is to help families manage financial challenges they may be facing and to help them purchase eligible supports and items quickly. Recipients who enrolled in the program after April 1, 2020, are not eligible for advance funding.