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

Navigating the System - Children iconNAVIGATING CHILDREN’S SUPPORT SERVICES

parents holding up their babySometimes finding the right supports and services for your child with a suspected or diagnosed developmental disability can seem overwhelming. This initial confusion is not unusual.

Connecting to children’s support services may at times appear baffling, but there are a number of agencies, services and supports available to help you, your family and your child. They are there whenever you are ready to connect with them. Sometimes, readiness follows a developmental diagnosis or involves questions concerning a child’s development. In either case, connecting with service providers can be very beneficial.

There is always support and information along the way to assist in navigating all resources available to you and your family while recognizing the level of assistance you may require. Help is just a phone call away. Parents and caregivers are welcome to connect with Catulpa to inquire about various children’s services and supports by calling: 705-733-3227 ext. 2335.

Supporting government agencies:

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services

is a funding body and can also provide parents with information about infant hearing programs, speech and language programs, infant development and more: www.children.gov.on.ca/

Local municipal regional program and service providers can be found by selecting your location: List of Ontario Municipalities and searching for Children and Youth Services. For instance, the County of Simcoe: Children and Community Services provides many children’s services for families in Simcoe County: Simcoe County Information for Children and Families


For some programs and services your child will need a diagnostic assessment so planning can help meet their needs and support their strengths.

Assessments are done by a trained professional who gathers information about your child. This will involve meeting and interviewing you and your child. They may also gather information from others working with your child (e.g. teachers). An assessment usually takes one to four sessions.

When the assessment is complete, recommendations for the best therapies or treatments will be explained to you and your child. You receive a copy of the assessment so you can share with anyone you chose, including those individuals you will want to understand your child’s needs and behaviors. You can also use this document to access other services.

“Help a parent and you’ve already helped a child.”
Johana Scot


Sometimes, due to high demand for some services, you may face a waitlist. Many of Catulpa Community Support Services’ programs do not have waitlists, but, if you do find yourself waiting for a service, here is what you can expect:

  • Waitlists can range from a couple of weeks to a several months, depending on the service
  • While you are waiting, there may be additional ways to support your child’s needs:
    • Speak with an agency staff member or care provider who may be able to offer consultations while you wait (to complete forms, to speak about child’s needs)
    • You can access a Brief Resource Appointment in your area. Call Children’s Treatment Network Intake at: 1-866-377-0286 and ask for a Brief Resource Appointment
  • Check online resource links through agencies, such as Catulpa
  • Attend community workshops or support groups / coffee chats
  • Talk to a family mentor through Children’s Treatment Program
  • Access services privately or fee-for-service programs
  • Reach out to your school / recreation centers to see what resources they have available

Specialized children’s resource programs and services include:

All children and youth, up until the age of 18 with a confirmed diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from a qualified professional, are eligible for services in the Ontario Autism Program (OAP). After receiving a diagnosis, families can register for the OAP by calling their regional provider. Regional single points of access are available in nine service areas across Ontario and can be found by clicking here.

Once the regional provider receives the written diagnosis of ASD, your child will be added to the OAP waitlist for services, based on their date of referral.

Upon registration, your regional provider will begin working with you and your family as part of the service planning process. They help your family and the professionals involved with your child, such as a speech language pathologist, doctor, and/or educators, to identify your child’s individual strengths, needs and goals.

This information helps build your OAP Family Service Plan. This planning takes place with your involvement and consent to ensure you and your family are at the center.

Developmental Disabilities
Help is available for children and youth with developmental disabilities and their families. Ontario provides services and supports to children and youth with developmental disabilities and their families. Most programs and services are delivered through community-based agencies such as Catulpa Community Support Services, municipal support services, and school boards.


To learn more about programs and services available in your region, visit the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, or click here.

Children’s Developmental Services – eligibility criteria

  • School aged child, up to and including age 18 years
  • The child has a diagnosis of a developmental disability (as documented in a psychological assessment), meeting percentile criteria for a cognitive and adaptive functioning

The role of Catulpa Community Support Services

  • Catulpa Community Support Services offers family resources to caregivers with a child who has an intellectual disability and / or physical disability
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is among the leading causes of cognitive and developmental disability among children in Canada. Early detection and interventions means better mental health outcomes later in life.

More information can be found here. Local information can be found here.

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.

Indigenous Children and Youth Programs
Several of the children and youth programs and services available within the region support service based on experience learning; building on cultural awareness, practices and community. Speak with your program or service about this.

Many children with needs in the pre-school ages don’t have developmental disabilities but qualify for Resource Consultant Services

Mental Health
In the event of an emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital or emergency department.

Help is available for the approximately 1 in 5 children and youth with a mental health challenge. About 70% of mental health challenges have their onset in childhood or youth. Mental Health issues can include anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm among others. Mental Health services can include counselling, assessment, crisis support and addiction treatment.

To find a Children and Youth Mental Health service provider near you, visit www.ontario.ca or click here.

If you need someone to talk to, contact:
Kids Help Phone
For children and youth between the ages of 5 and 20

  • Provides professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being
  • Phone and online via web post or live chat
  • Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Free, anonymous and confidential
  • Call: 1-800-668-6868
For people between the ages of 17-25
For post-secondary students in Ontario

  • Provides professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being
  • Free, confidential and anonymous helpline
  • Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Call: 1-866-925-5454
Mental Health Helpline
All ages

  • Provides information about counselling services and supports in your community
  • Listens, offers support and provide strategies to help you meet your goals
  • Provides basic education about mental illness
  • Call: 1-866-531-2600
Ontario Distress Centres
All ages
A free telephone help-line for people experiencing emotional distress (including suicide)

  • Provide listening and referral services primarily through highly trained volunteers
  • Most centres are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Call a distress centre in your area

Funding Resources

Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD):

ACSD may provide parents who meet the financial and medical criteria with funding aid for extraordinary costs (medications, specialized developmental toys, transportation costs, etc.) involved in caring for a child with a disability.

Special Services at Home (SSAH): SSAH may provide financial assistance to caregiver’s who are caring for a child with a developmental or physical disability at home. The funding assists caregivers to purchase supports or specialized programming in their community. This supports can be used to a child’s personal growth and development and / or family respite relief.

Disability Tax Credit – T2201: The DTC is applied through Revenue Canada. It provides families caring for a child (under 18 years of age with a developmental / physical disability), with a tax free benefit amount per year. It is important to note that this funding can be retroactive and some families may be eligible to receive money from the time of their child’s birth. The application can be completed by a medical doctor, speech and language pathologist, optometrist, occupational therapist, or psychologist.

Assistive Devices Program: If you have a long-term physical disability, you can get help paying for equipment and supplies when you qualify for the Assistive Devices Program.

Catulpa Community Support Services Children’s Respite Funding: Catulpa recognizes that sometimes caregivers require temporary relief from the role of caring for a child with a disability. Respite can allow time to renew and offer a child an opportunity to spend time with others or have new experiences in their community with support. The goal of this program is to provide respite support so caregivers can address their needs.  Catulpa’s Children’s Respite is for families who reside in Orillia, Collingwood, Midland or Alliston and areas.

Simcoe Community Services Family Relief Funding: Similar to Catulpa’s Children’s Respite Funding, this funding assistance is for families who reside in Barrie, Angus, Innisfil and Bradford areas. www.simcoecommunityservices.ca

*Other funding sources can be further explored

For more information about children’s and youth resources in the community, click here.

As your child turns 16 years of age, you and your child will begin preparing for the change to Adult Services.

Your family’s Family Resource Worker or Family Support Worker can assist in this process. To learn more about Navigating the System for Adults, please click here.