Our Response to the Latest News Regarding the Ontario Autism Program
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Hamilton, Ontario - December 23, 2022
In December 2021, the government announced that it "is on track to meeting its commitment of providing 8,000 children with funding for core clinical services by fall 2022". The latest report from The Canadian Press indicates that this self-imposed goal has not been met. Furthermore, it is not clear how much it has been missed by.
For years, families of autistic children and youths have struggled to find proper supports.
Historically, the Ontario government has failed to provide adequate access and funding to help these families. The autism program has changed several times over the years which has led to confusion and increasing wait times.
Problems with previous programs included:
lack of choice (ABA services was the only option)
regional disparity (wait times varied from region to region)
conflict of interest (regional providers managed both wait lists and funding allocation)
lack of capacity
too few resources for families to learn more about ASD and how to support their children
When the Ford government and OAP Advisory Panel put out their recommendations report in October 2019, it was hoped that these issues would be resolved. This current version of the OAP (Ontario Autism Program), which started rolling out in 2020, has addressed some of them.
speech services, OT and mental health services have been added as eligible expenses
regional wait lists have been consolidated into a central one so that placement is based on registration date and not region
wait list management and funding allocation have been removed from the regional providers and assigned to an Independent Intake Organization (known as AccessOAP)
service providers (public and private) can apply for the Workforce Capacity Fund which provides grants to expand capacity and deliver services to more children
more funded programs are offered in the form of Foundational Family Services, Caregiver Mediated Early Years Programs, Entry to School Program and Urgent Response Services
We acknowledge that COVID has certainly delayed the implementation of this new OAP, and acceptance to the initial round of invitations to Core Clinical Services was much lower than expected. But, that is little consolation to families who have been waiting years for funding to access services.
While 16,575 invitations to Core Clinical Services have reportedly been issued, the process of actually getting funding in hand has been slow. Being invited to Core Clinical Services is not the same as receiving funding and purchasing services. The Determination of Needs (DON) meeting with parents/caregivers and their AccessOAP Care Coordinators is where information to determine funding allocation is gathered. These appointments, which are booked for up to 4 hours at a time (which limits the number that can actually be done per week), are reportedly being scheduled months out in 2023. This just adds more wait time and anxiety for families. This government and AccessOAP need to increase the number of Care Coordinators administering the DONs and streamline the process in order to expedite direct funding to families. Plus, more needs to be done to educate families and private providers about the role of AccessOAP, how to transition to Core Clinical Services seamlessly, and how to access the additional programs in the OAP.
Compared to previous provincial autism programs, this OAP promises more. However, its delay and implementation has been confusing and frustrating for families and their supporters.
For more information, please contact our team at balanceSSCS@gmail.com
Balance Support & Self Care Studios was created with parents and caregivers of individuals with diverse needs in mind. We recognize the value of the staff and community. We are committed to striving for excellence through inclusiveness, team collaboration, quality of services, and the participation and contributions of volunteers and community members. To learn more, please check out our website
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