For more than 20 years, the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) has provided funding and services for children and youth under 18 years of age with autism, along with their families and caregivers.
Offered by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, the OAP was overhauled in 2019. These changes impact how families register for and access services and the types of services offered.
The OAP is currently in a transitional phase as it moves toward becoming more comprehensive, needs-based and family-centered. At this time, families can access a variety of services and supports – more details are below.
What are the changes?
- Historically, OAP funding was directed to regional providers like Surrey Place to deliver services to families.
- Since April 2019, families have registered directly with the Ministry to access the new OAP.
- A new independent intake organization called AccessOAP is responsible for registering families, helping them access funding, and helping them understand which OAP services and supports they are eligible for.
- It is expected that many more families will receive access to needs-based funding and core autism services over the coming year.
What you need to know about available services
The new needs-based OAP has five service streams:
What it is: Core Clinical Services include behavioural services, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and mental health services.
Who is eligible: Currently, 600 families are taking part in a needs-based funding pilot. By fall 2022, 8,000 children and youth are expected to receive funding to purchase Core Clinical Services. In addition, many families also have access to Interim One Time Funding to purchase services for their child.
How to access: Care Coordinators from AccessOAP determine the child’s support needs and their funding allocation for the following year. Once the funding is received, families may spend it on eligible Core Clinical Services. Families have flexibility to choose their service provider. Families receive an invitation letter to access needs-based funding for Core Clinical Services. To register for services offered at Surrey Place, visit our autism services page or call 1-833-575-KIDS (5437).
What it is: Foundational Family Services include a wide range of programs aimed at providing families with the tools to support their child and participate in their ongoing learning and development. Services include:
- Family and peer mentoring
- Caregiver workshops and follow-up coaching sessions
- Brief, targeted consultations
- Transition supports
- Family resource and clinic days
Who is eligible: Foundational Family Services are available to all families registered in the OAP at any point based on their needs. These services are provided at no cost.
How to access: To register for services offered at Surrey Place, visit the MySurreyPlace.ca client portal or call 1-833-575-KIDS (5437). There’s no limit to the number of times families can access Foundational Family Services.
What it is: A variety of services that help caregivers with young children learn how to implement strategies and techniques to teach young children new skills. All programs are play-based, child-led and developmentally appropriate.
Who is eligible: All children 12-48 months old who are registered in the Ontario Autism Program can receive this program free of charge.
How to access: Invitation letters are sent to all eligible families. When families receive an invitation letter, they select the program best suited for their family and child. Next, they register directly with a service provider offering that program.
To register for services offered at Surrey Place or to learn more, visit the Toronto Autism Services Network website. Families can register directly on the site.
What it is: A six-month group-based program designed to prepare young children entering kindergarten or grade 1 for the first time. Offered free of charge, the goal of this program is to help children develop school readiness skills, including communication, social skills and behaviour management. Families and educators will also be able to access consultation services from Entry to School program staff, as needed, during a child’s first six months in school.
Who is eligible: Children between three to six years old who will be starting kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time.
How to access: Eligible families will receive an invitation letter from the Ministry. When a family receives an invitation letter, they select the program best suited for their family and child. Next, they register directly with a service provider offering that specific program. To register for services at Surrey Place or to learn more, visit the Toronto Autism Services Network website. Families can register directly on the site.
What it is: This program provides access to supports intended to help prevent crisis and reduce the risk of a child or youth harming themselves or others. It is not designed to replace emergency or crisis services. Eligible children and youth and their families can receive up to 12 weeks of free supports, which may include interdisciplinary consultation, service coordination, respite services, or direct services to the child and family.
Who is eligible: This program is designed for eligible children and youth who are experiencing a specific, urgent need.
How to access: To register for services offered at Surrey Place, visit our Urgent Response Service page or call 1-833-575-KIDS (5437).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We’re here to help. Call 1-833-575-KIDS (5437) or visit https://www.surreyplace.ca/services/autism-services/