Special Needs Support

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 June 30, 2021.

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:

  • direct assistance with personal care
  • respite care
  • community activity participation

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

Some children and youth may need extra supports because they have challenges or delays in their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, language or behavioural development. Ontario provides services to support children and youth to participate fully at home, at school, in the community, and as they prepare to achieve their goals for adulthood.

Learn more about Coordinated Service Planning for children with multiple or complex special needs and how to connect with a dedicated Service Planning Coordinator.

Disruptions due to COVID-19

Some service providers already offer services through telephone or video applications where appropriate and are considering other remote and virtual service delivery models. You can contact your service provider for updated information and to discuss what services may be available.

Organizations are encouraged to explore opportunities to implement innovative service models during this time as everyone is asked to stay home to stay safe and protect others in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Service providers are expected to work with families to carefully consider the potential outcomes, risks and benefits of stopping or modifying current services when making decisions about alternate service delivery.

Clinicians and other professionals should consult their professional regulatory or certification bodies to get information about delivering virtual or remote services. When considering alternate service delivery, professionals must comply with requirements and protections relating to a family’s confidentiality and privacy.


There are many local programs and services to help children with special needs and their families. You may also contact your nearest regional office for more information regarding locally available services.

If you have a child who is six or younger, more information is available on early childhood development, including services and supports in your community.


Ontario provides a range of services and supports to children and youth with autism.

Developmental Disabilities

Help is available for children and youth with developmental disabilities and their families.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Work is underway to improve the experiences and outcomes for individuals affected by alcohol before birth.

Mental Health

There is help for children and youth up to the age of 18 who have social, emotional, behavioural or psychiatric problems, and their families or caregivers.

Rehabilitation Services

Rehabilitation services can include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language pathology for children and youth with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities and communication disorders.

Coordinated Service Planning

Service Planning Coordinators for children and youth with multiple or complex special needs work with families and cross-sectoral partners to develop Coordinated Service Plans and help connect families to the right services and supports.

See also

Financial and Respite Supports

Financial and/or respite support may be available to families with children with special needs. There are several programs, including:

Services for Specific Populations

Other Available Services and Supports

  • Blindness and low vision – an Early Intervention Program for children from birth to grade one with challenges related to their vision.
  • Hearing - help for babies who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Residential services - group homes, foster homes, provincially operated facilities and youth justice open and secure custody/detention facilities.
  • Special education - the Ministry of Education provides in-school programs and services so that children and youth with special needs benefit fully from their school experience.
  • Assistive devices - the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care provides access to assistive devices responsive to their individual needs.