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4. The Client

Eligibility for the APSW Program

Eligibility for adult developmental services and supports, including the APSW program, is the first determination to be made. Confirmation of eligibility is a legislated function of DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES ONTARIO, called application entities in the legislation.

Under the authority of the SIPDDA, all individuals wishing to apply for services and supports for the first time must contact their local Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) organization to have their eligibility confirmed and to complete the Application Package for adult developmental services.

The DSO will refer eligible individuals to local APSW agencies, following the prioritization process and within available resources.

Applying for the APSW Program

DSO is the single point of access for Ministry-funded adult developmental services and supports.

When people apply for Ministry-funded adult developmental services and supports for the first time, including APSW services and supports, they must contact their local DSO organization to have their eligibility confirmed and complete the Application Package.

Each local DSO organization will:

  • Confirm eligibility for those applying for Ministry-funded adult developmental services and supports for the first time.
  • Complete the Application Package to assess each individual’s service and support needs.
  • Link eligible and prioritized adults to available services and supports.

Policy directives for DSOx (referred to as "Application Entities" in SIPDDA) are available on the Ministry's website.

Suitability for APSW Supports

Eligible adults 18 years of age or older with a developmental disability are suitable for the APSW program if the involvement of the APSW would not duplicate or replace a similar program that is currently in place or available to support an individual’s needs, and they:

  • Currently live on their own or plan to move to a more independent (non-Ministry-funded developmental services) community setting.
  • Have limited or no significant social supports.
  • Need, and request, the type of assistance that is within the mandate of the APSW program.

Note: there is no upper age limit for applying to receive APSW services and supports.

Exceptional Circumstances

Living Situations

The primary focus of the APSW program is supporting eligible adults who have a developmental disability who live on their own in the community. APSWs support people living in a range of community residential settings, some of which may be subsidized or operated by various levels of government, some may be at market-value rent, and others may be owned by the individual themselves.

Ongoing support for individuals living in Ministry-funded developmental services residential settings is not the intent of the APSW program.

However, there are two exceptional circumstances where the APSW may assist individuals in other types of living situations:

  • Living at home with FAMILY
  • The APSW may be asked to assist an eligible adult who has a developmental disability whose primary residence is with their family if:

    • On a time-limited basis as determined by the APSW or their supervisor, the involvement of the APSW is requested specifically to help the adult with their plan to move towards independence and take up residence on their own in the community.
    • with the permission of the individual who has a developmental disability, the involvement of the APSW is specifically an advocacy role with the individual in their relationship with the family, and the primary focus is on the safety and security of the adult with a developmental disability within the family unit.

    Ongoing service provision for eligible adults who continue to live at home with their family is not the focus of the APSW program. In situations where an adult who is living at home with their family needs ongoing assistance with locating services and supports, the APSW should refer the individual and their family to their local DSO which can assist with service navigation.

  • Living in MCSS or Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC)-funded residential settings.
  • The APSW may be asked to assist an eligible adult who has a developmental disability whose primary residence is in a Ministry-funded developmental services residential setting (e.g. supported independent living, host family (Family Home program), supported group living or intensive support residence) or MOHLTC-funded long-term care setting if:

    • the involvement of the APSW is requested specifically to help the adult with their plan to move towards more independence and take up residence on their own in the community; and/or
    • the involvement of the APSW is specifically an advocacy role of speaking on behalf of the individual in their relationship with the service provider of the person’s accommodation, and the primary focus is on the safety and security of the adult with a developmental disability within their accommodation.

Voluntary Relationship

The relationship between the APSW and the person who has a developmental disability is voluntary which means that the person is not compelled to accept the services of the APSW program. The APSW is expected to provide services, within their mandate, to people who have a developmental disability who seek their help. The APSW does not have guardianship or legislated custodial authority for the individuals they support.