Amanda Neadow, JDN Center for Children

The JDN Center for Children is excited about a recent announcement made by the Minister of Children and Youth Services about the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) which will mean better access to custom-designed service and reduced wait-times. Ultimately, it’s a win for parents and their children diagnosed with ASD.

As well as investing an unprecedented half-billion dollars over the next four years to create new services for children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the government is giving more control to families on how funding is managed. Parents will now have the flexibility to make use of a direct-funding program. What does that mean for families? Parents will be able to transition to an offering which will allow them to choose between receiving provincial services or receiving funding to purchase alternate services for their child.

The new program will not affect support presently being received by families.

“I want all families to experience a smooth transition into the new OAP starting this June. That means that families currently receiving direct funding will continue to receive that funding until the direct funding option in the new OAP is implemented later this year,” said Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services. “I want to reassure parents the support you are receiving now through the direct funding option will not stop in June and will continue until you enter the new program. The changes we are introducing are the first steps in building an OAP that is co-ordinated, family-centred and responsive to children’s unique needs, strengths and goals.”

This announcement re-affirms that parents can ask the government for these funds directly, giving families who want a hands-on role in their child’s therapy the option to hire private companies.

Amanda Neadow, President & CEO of JDN Center for Children Inc., says this announcement means better focus on the child.

“This announcement appears that the new Ontario Autism Program will open the door for families who want to manage their child’s therapy,” she says. “Direct funding will allow parents to hire private providers who they feel can best meet their child’s needs and schedule. This will allow more children to receive 1:1 therapy. The benefit of 1:1 therapy is that the therapist is only working on your child’s needs and goals. It is much more tailored to the individual needs of each child.”

Transition to the direct-funding program will begin this June and be fully implemented by spring, 2018. Neadow notes that, “there are still many details to be provided on how the new Ontario Autism Program will work, and we hope that over the summer and into the fall the Ontario Government will provide more specific details on what implementation looks like.”

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JDN Center for Children will follow this news closely and continue to report to you as the program rolls out, but parents can call the OAP at 1-888-284-8340 for more information. ­