705-733-3227 info@catulpa.on.ca



The changeover to adult support services can be confusing for families as adult children near eighteen years of age. Children’s services and supports are often very different from the adult system.



“Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.”

Supporting Ministries and Agencies can change, along with planning terminology, funders and service providers. For instance:

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services – MCSS – is the funding body for Adult Developmental Services. Visit their website here.

Individual Education Plan – IEP – Developed by the school to identify the support needs and adaptations required to ensure success for the student.

Adaptive Functioning Assessment – AFA – Evaluates three general areas of adaptive behaviour (conceptual, social and practical). Some areas that are measured are: communication, health and safety, social, community use, leisure, work, functional academics, self-care, motor skills, home living and self-direction.

Integrated Transition Plan – ITP – Developed in conjunction with the school and support team/family to establish transition planning for the youth on a yearly basis. This plan outlines goals the youth has academically (in high school and post secondary) and socially and assists employment readiness. The purpose of this plan is to ensure a successful transition from school to adult life, whether that is at eighteen or up to twenty-one years of age. The youth must be identified as having a developmental disability and have an IEP.

Developmental Services Ontario – DSO – Functions as a central point of access to apply for and receive MCSS funded services and supports. Developmental Services Ontario is the only route to access adult funded developmental services for individuals eighteen years of age and older. For more informtion, call DSO Central East: Toll Free 1 (855) 277 – 2121 or visit www.dsontario.ca

DSO eligibility criteria:

  • 18 years of age or older (can apply at 16)
  • be a resident of Ontario and have a developmental disability
  • individual must meet percentile criteria for cognitive and adaptive functioning (as documented in psychological assessment)

DSO role:

  • reviews situations for urgent needs and refers accordingly
  • confirms eligibility, completes an Application Package to determine each individual’s service/support needs
  • provide information about available resources
  • links eligible individuals to available MCSS funded services and supports

Ontario Disability Support Program – ODSP – Provides financial support for eligible individuals eighteen years of age and older to assist with living expenses. ODSP can also help with benefits for you and your family. Benefits may include prescription drugs, dental services and vision care as well as help to find and keep a job, and advance your career.   http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/odsp/

Passport Program – Provides annual funding to eligible individuals eighteen years of age and older to use to access their community activities. It does not apply to tuition as that is covered by government student assistance programs such as the Ontario Student Assistance Program-OSAP, or supports made available though an on-campus Special Needs Offices. It can assist with employment, volunteer activities, daily life activities and caregiver respite.

As with many services in developmental services, there may be waitlists associated with some adult services and programs. Prepare for the transition of the youth from child to adult services by arranging for:

  • psychological assessment that indicates diagnosis
  • adaptive and/or cognitive functioning assessment
  • full scale IQ

Inform the psychologist that you are applying to the DSO. They will know what is needed to establish DSO eligibility.

  • Gather your child’s previous assessments and school reports, as well as their IEP and ITP reports
  • Apply for a Social Insurance Card, Birth Certificate and Ontario Health Card for your child
Make an application to the DSO to confirm eligibility to receive MCCSS funded services and supports. (See contact information above). You will need to sign a consent form and send all documents requested by DSO. There are a variety of factors that the DSO considers when determining eligibility, such as:

  • IQ
  • diagnosis
  • adaptive/executive functioning abilities

If your child is found not eligible, a new psychological assessment (if the one originally provided was older), may help in meeting the requirements. Contact the DSO in your area to find out more information. If eligible, the DSO will contact you to complete an Application Package. They will provide information about the funded services and supports available to you and explain each option in detail with you. The Application Package includes a SIS (Supports Intensity Scale) to determine what your child’s current support are and what future needs may look like. The scale helps match the person to adult services as they turn eighteen. Some of the available supports and services for adults are:

  • Residential Supports (Supported Independent Living, Group Home, Host Family Home)
  • Caregiver Respite (if the person is living at home with family)
  • Community Participation (Day Programs, Supported Employment/Volunteer programs)
  • Passport Program (funds to access the community or receive support to develop self help skills, learn after high school or job readiness)
  • Adult Protective Service Worker (a case worker who would assist an individual on a limited basis when living independently)
  • Behaviour Management Services

Now is also a good time to start thinking about a Substitute Decision Maker or Public Guardian and Trustee for your adult child.

Apply for ODSP online, by phone or in person. You will need:

  • your personal information (identification, etc)
  • information about members of your household
  • your household’s housing costs and other shelter-related costs
  • your household’s income and assets

ODSP will provide you with a package of information to complete and send in before the individual is deemed eligible for ODSP. A youth that has been found eligible for adult services by the DSO (typically at 16yrs of age), can provide the letter of eligibility to ODSP in order to bypass the medical documentation needed to qualify. If a youth is not eligible for adult services via DSO, a doctor will be needed to complete the medical information required for the ODSP application.

You become the primary advocate and voice for your family member if you have not been connected with a support person, case management agency or adult protective services worker. As needs change, remember you can always reconnect with DSO to provide updates in regards to changes in living situation, support needs and/or requests for services.