History of Developmental Services

Institutions (or facilities, as they came to be called) provided various educational and training opportunities for the children who lived there, such as:

  • classroom instruction based on a child's mental age
  • sensory training rooms
  • ward schools, and
  • occupational training.

Originally, the superintendents who ran each facility developed their own education programs. Some superintendents invested much time and effort into researching and developing new teaching methods, while others focused on occupational training and more traditional forms of learning, such as memorization or repetition. As a result, education and training varied considerably from facility to facility.

Over the years, education and training programs in the facilities evolved. But by the 1960s, educators began to understand the need to standardize educational programs for children living in the facilities. In 1966, the Ontario government transferred responsibility for education in the facilities from the Department of Health to the Department of Education. This was done to make educational programs in the facilities more consistent with those taught in the regular school system. In 1972, the government made it mandatory for facilities to provide a full day of academic instruction for all resident children.


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