Issue 23 – February 2011

Minister's Message

Dear colleagues and friends,

This is an exciting time for the developmental services sector in Ontario.

Many of you have followed our transformation journey over the past six years. Our first milestone was the closure of the three remaining institutions for adults with a developmental disability. Next was passage of new developmental services legislation for Ontario.

This year, we continue that momentum with the creation of nine regional contact points for developmental services across the province. The contact points, which will officially be known as Developmental Services Ontario, are a major milestone in our overall transformation. They are key to our vision for a more fair, equitable and sustainable developmental services system.

In addition to seeing the contact points open in July 2011, we will be moving ahead on other priorities to modernize our developmental services system:

  • building a new information system for the regional contact points that will give the developmental services sector and the ministry a better tool for service planning
  • expanding the use of the new common Application Package for assessing the support needs of adults with a developmental disability more consistently
  • developing guidelines for person-directed planning services and supports, and
  • planning for a process to prioritize requests for services and supports in a fairer and more consistent way for everyone.

My thanks to all of you who have given generously of your time, energy and expertise. I look forward to working with all of you on our ambitious work plan. Your cooperation will help us take developmental services to the next level and into the future.

Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services

New laws for a new year

In our last issue of Spotlight, we told you about the organizations that will become Ontario's new regional contact points for adult developmental services. Now, under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008, the Minister of Community and Social Services has the authority to designate the regional contact points and allow the ministry to outline policy directives for them.

Other sections of the act that came into effect will make sure people who are currently receiving, or waiting for, services and supports under the older Developmental Services Act will continue to be eligible for services and supports under our new legislation. This means that people will not have to reapply or reconfirm their eligibility. By "grandparenting" people under the new law, there will be a smooth transition from one act to the other.

On January 1, the new regulation on quality assurance measures also came into force for agencies.

The regulation covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Promoting social inclusion, individual choice, independence and rights – agencies must provide support to make sure people with a developmental disability:
    • can be a part of the community where they live
    • get the help they need to make informed decisions and choices, and
    • have the supports they need to live as independently as possible and have more freedom.
  • Preventing and reporting abuse – agencies need to have policies and procedures that explain that no type of abuse or neglect will be allowed. This includes:
    • physical abuse
    • neglect, and
    • sexual abuse.
  • Behaviour intervention strategies

These measures are not just about serving and protecting people with developmental disabilities, but recognizing that people with developmental disabilities are able to make choices for themselves and take action to protect themselves.

"The new legislation now requires that people with disabilities receive abuse prevention education. Traditionally people with disabilities have been seen as those who need protection, not those who can protect themselves. This has led others, more powerful others, taking on the role of protector. This legislation requires us all to see people with disabilities as having a role in protecting themselves. And it acknowledges that they need information and strategies, vocabulary and assertion, and voice and power."
– Dave Hingsburger, Director of Clinical and Educational Supports at Vita Community Living Services

We have received tremendous feedback on this regulation from service providers, self-advocates and families, and want to thank everyone who contributed to it.

The regulation on quality assurance measures also covers rules for the province's regional contact points. The parts of the regulation related to regional contact points will come into effect on July 1, 2011. We'll tell you more about them in a future issue of Spotlight.

One-window access for developmental services

Service Coordination des services will be the regional contact point in eastern Ontario

We are pleased to announce that following a competitive selection process, the ministry has chosen Service Coordination des services to be the regional point of contact for adults with a developmental disability who live in eastern Ontario. Areas served in eastern Ontario include: Cornwall, Ottawa, Carleton, Prescott-Russell, Renfrew, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

The contact point will provide information about developmental services, confirm eligibility for services and supports, determine service and support needs, and link people to available services and supports in eastern Ontario.

There are eight other regional contact points being set up across the province. We announced the names of the lead agencies for those contact points in November 2010.

The contact points, which will officially be called Developmental Services Ontario, will open for business in July 2011. They are a key part of Ontario's plan to modernize services and supports for people with a developmental disability.

Thanks to all organizations that responded to our call for expressions of interest and congratulations to Service Coordination des services.

Developmental Services Human Resource Strategy

Promoting developmental services as a career of choice

The Developmental Services Human Resource Strategy (DSHRS) continues to make significant progress in transforming human resource practices across Ontario so that people with a developmental disability are supported by the best qualified staff.

Here's where the sub-committees are at with their work plans:

The Program Standards Committee, has submitted its report to the Steering Committee. The report includes advice on building relationships between agencies and colleges, as well as recommendations for maintaining these relationships.

Based on the committee's recommendations, Ontario's Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities started the process to review the Developmental Services Worker program standards in January, 2011.

The Best HR Practices Committee has developed a list of best human resource practices to be used by developmental services agencies. The committee has also tabled a report with the Steering Committee, along with recommendations on how to start implementing best practices for recruiting, training, retaining and recognizing developmental services professionals.

The Core Competencies Pilot Project ended in December 2010, when core competencies (skills and values needed to work in the field) were fully implemented in all 16 pilot agencies under the guidance of the Core Competencies Implementation Committee. The committee has developed tools and resources to help other agencies adopt core competencies starting in the spring of 2011 when the initiative goes province-wide.

The Agency-based Training Committee completed an analysis of the training survey and compiled a list of courses that will be recommended as a consistent agency-based training program for developmental services in Ontario. The committee also developed a reference guide to be used by agencies seeking formal college recognition for agency-based training.

The Awareness and Marketing Committee worked with a marketing firm to develop a website and marketing tools that may be used by all agencies in the province to promote the developmental services sector as a career of choice. The website and marketing materials will be rolled out in the spring of 2011.

The Human Resource Shared Interests Committee is composed of union representatives and management representatives of both union and non-union agencies. This mix of representatives ensures that the concerns and interests of all stakeholders are represented. Over the past two years the committee has reviewed all work completed under the strategy and provided feedback to the Steering Committee from the perspective of the direct support employee. This year, the committee will review the final reports from sub-committees and provide more feedback to the Steering Committee.

The recommendations from all of the committees will help guide the DSHRS going forward.

The DSHRS, a partnership between the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Provincial Network on Developmental Services, is a 10-year plan to improve how we recruit, train and retain staff in the developmental services field.

Get a career with meaning and the opportunity to make a difference: Agencies may customize a series of posters that will be available on the DSHRS website with their contact information. The posters are part of a larger campaign that will help promote professionalism within the developmental services sector.

Spotlight on inclusion

In this issue, we take a look at new post-secondary school opportunities for adult learners with a developmental disability, promoting social inclusion through person-directed planning, and an alternative residential program.

We're always looking for new story ideas, so if you have a story idea about inclusion to share, please send us an e-mail:

Inclusive learning for people of all abilitiess

Tracy Ryan, H'art School

Adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Kingston can now attend courses offered by faculty members at Queen's University who volunteer to take part in the H'art School Post-Secondary Education initiative.

H'art School is a Kingston-based, non-profit organization that helps adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities reach their highest potential through creative and inclusive education. H'art believes that inclusive post-secondary education provides a natural pathway to adulthood.

According to a Toronto Star report, at least 1,000 people with intellectual disabilities leave high school in Ontario each year and must adapt to life in their communities. The transition can be challenging. In 2003, H'art began working on the H'art Post-Secondary Education initiative. The goal was to make this transition easier.

Under this program, Queen's professors volunteer and open their classrooms for adult learners with an intellectual disability to attend classes at no cost. The learners participate alongside Queen's students with modifications to material when necessary. Classes range from music history to computer animation to drama and art education.

"So far the feedback is that students find it a rewarding experience. That makes it worthwhile. They feel a part of the university and our students find it valuable and important to have them in the classroom," said Steve Elliott, Dean of the Faculty of Education at Queen's.

To help prepare for the transition, H'art School offers a program called H'art Prep. This program, developed in part by graduate students from Queen's School of Rehabilitation Therapy, includes a 10-session orientation from September to December.

The learner then attends university classes from January to April. It's a major commitment. Many learners are involved in these courses for up to 20 hours a week. To date, more than 21 students and 10 professors have participated.

"I appreciate them as colleagues and people I can learn from," said Julie Brook, a teaching fellow of elementary music in the Faculty of Education.

The appreciation is mutual.

"I felt like a student at Queen's. I feel happy," said Karen Olivier, a 32-year old with Down syndrome who audited a music course and a drama course this year. "I felt full of energy. I'm learning lots about me. This is a big step for me. I was surprised at what I could do. It inspired me because I'm thinking a lot about taking courses, about trying different courses."

Between classes, learners can return to H'art Prep for homework help and social support. They can also choose to participate in H'art Studio activities which build literacy and social skills through the fine arts.

As an added bonus, this year Queen's students began STEP – Social Transition Education Program – a university student club with members who partner with the learners for the duration of their time on campus. Members accompany H'art students to social and academic events on campus and encourage H'art students to join other university clubs and organizations.

The post-secondary initiative took several years and the goodwill of many community partners to develop, but it could be easily modeled in other communities, said Katherine Porter, Executive Director of H'art School.

"I hope this initiative encourages people to appreciate the abilities of adults with special needs and to dream bigger," she said. "It just makes sense that we fill their pages with possibilities."

For more information about H'art School, check out

Promoting social inclusion through person-directed planning

Person-directed planning is a new category of supports and services and one of the key features of Ontario's new developmental services legislation.

As part of our transformation, we're creating a system that promotes social inclusion. Person-directed planning is one of the best ways to do this.

We've established the Person-Directed Planning Fiscal Innovation Fund. The fund is for projects that will evolve person-directed planning in Ontario's communities by:

  • developing connections in the community that build opportunities for participating and promoting a sense of belonging and citizenship
  • building relationships with people who can support people with a developmental disability to develop, review, monitor and implement their person-directed plans so that their goals are met
  • increasing the knowledge of staff and community members through workshops, information sessions and training, that help communities be more person-directed in their thinking, practices and environments, and
  • supporting independent planning and facilitation in a community, such as establishing an independent facilitators' network.

There are a lot of innovative ideas being supported by the fund, and we are confident that they will help to expand social inclusion opportunities across Ontario.

For example, 64 per cent of successful projects are in partnership with agencies and organizations that provide developmental services as well as:

  • self-advocate groups (People First Chapters in Lanark County, London and St. Mary's/Stratford)
  • family groups (Families for a Secure Future partnering with projects in southwest and central east regions, while Families Matter Cooperative has partnered with a project in eastern region led by Citizen Advocacy), and
  • other sectors (Community Living Burlington's project will partner with the Canadian Association for Mental Health, while South East Grey Support Services' project partners with Grey County Housing);

All proposals were selected based on innovation. Examples of these include:

  • developing a technology-based approach to person-directed planning that will optimize the degree to which people with significantly limited communications skills can direct their planning process (Reena)
  • helping individuals and families to access person-directed planning services in French by translating existing tools, developing new tools and making connections with Francophone sources/services (Rygiel Supports for Community Living, with 15 local DS and non-DS partners)
  • an awareness-raising initiative led by a self-advocates group that will educate young people about person-directed planning and social inclusion (Community Living Greater Sudbury Advocates Group)
  • leveraging "TYZE Personal Networks", an online social networking tool developed by the PLAN Institute for Caring Citizenship for adults with a developmental disability and their families to develop and maintain person-directed networks of support (Thunder Bay Family Network), and
  • developing an independent planning working group to establish an independent planning entity in a community where this planning setting is currently unavailable (Montage Support Services – Toronto).

Agencies and organizations with successful projects under the Person-Directed Planning Fiscal Innovation Fund (to be completed as of March 31, 2011):

Project Lead Project Partners
Central East Region
Reena (joint with Toronto region)
York Support Services Network Catulpa; Family Services Durham; Tri–County Community Support Services
Simcoe Community Services E3 Community Services; Community Living Huronia; Community Living South Simcoe
Durham Association Family Respite Services Durham Family Network
Durham Association Family Respite Services Families For a Secure Future
Central West Region
Family Counselling and Support Services Wellington Steering Group for Independent Facilitation and Planning; Guelph Services for the Autistic; Community Living Guelph Wellington; Trellis Mental Health and Developmental Services; Dufferin Child and Family Services; Community Living Dufferin
Community Living Burlington Community Living Oakville and North Halton; Halton Support Services; Bob Rumball Centre; Christian Horizons; Kerry's Place Mental Health; Central West Specialized Developmental Services; Network of Specialized Care; Erin Oak and the Canadian Mental Health Association – Halton Region
Sunbeam Residential Development Centre (DSAC – Waterloo Region)
Families for a Secure Future Brampton Caledon Community Living
New Story Group Extend A Family
Eastern Region
Community Living Dundas County Service Coordination Committee of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry
Citizen Advocacy Ottawa Families Matter Cooperative
Institut Valor
Hamilton/Niagara Region
Mainstream: An Unsheltered Workshop Family Counselling Centre – Adult Protective Services Worker Program; Bethesda; Christian Horizons; Community Living Fort Erie; Community Living Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln; Community Living Port Colborne / Wainfleet; Community Living St. Catharines; Community Living Welland / Pelham; Niagara Support Services; Niagara Training and Employment Agency
Rygiel Supports for Community Living Beth Tikvah; Catholic Family Services; CHOICES; Christian Horizons; Community Living Hamilton; CONTACT Hamilton for Children's and Developmental Services; Family Counselling Centre of Brant; Hamilton Health Sciences Centre; L'Arche Hamilton; Rygiel Supports for Community Living; Salvation Army, Lawson Ministries; Southern Network of Specialized Care; Twin Lakes Clinical Services; Woodview Manor; YWCA Hamilton
Community Living Brant
Community Living Access Support Services Community Living Haldimand; Norfolk Association for Community Living; Haldimand Norfolk REACH
North East Region
Community Living Parry Sound (joint with South East region) Helen Sanderson Associates Canada; The Mills
Community Living Timmins Integration Communautaire
Independent Planning and Facilitation Steering Committee Community Living Parry Sound; Community Living Hunstville; Community Living West Nipissing
Northern Region
Lake of the Woods Child Development Centre
Community Living Algoma Mr. Kees Van Frankenhuyzen & The Council of Community Living Algoma
Community Living Greater Sudbury Advocates Group
Thunder Bay Family Network
South East Region
North Hastings Community Integration Association
The Mills Community Support Corporation (joint with North East region) Community Living Parry Sound; Helen Henderson Associates Canada
Community Living Kingston Christian Horizons; Dual Diagnosis Community Outreach Team; Community Living North Frontenac; Counselling Services of Belleville and District; Extend-A-Family; Ongwanada; Pathways to Independence; Third Party Planning Kingston; Specialized Network; Kingston Credit Counselling; Lennox and Addington Child and Family Services
Community Living Lanark County Community Living North Grenville; Brockville and District Association for Community Integration; Gananoque and District Association for Community Living; People First of Lanark County
South West Region
South East Grey Support Services Grey-Bruce Health Services; APSW Program; Grey Housing; Regional Support Associates; Family member; Self Advocate; Family Home Program; Southern Network of Specialized Care; Keystone Child Youth and Family Services
Community Living St. Mary's Community Living Stratford; Community Living North Perth; L'Arche Stratford; People First; Self Advocates; Parents in Perth
Family Service Thames Valley
Steering Group London and Area (New Frontiers Support Services as banker) New Frontiers Support Services; Family Network; People First; Alice Saddy; Participation House; Autism; Thames Valley Family Service; Family Home Program; Modeling Community Change and Innovation Project
Windsor Essex Brokerage Family Network; Family Service Windsor; Community Living Windsor; Families for a Secure Future
Family Service Kent Family Counselling Centre Lambton; Self Advocate; Family Network
Toronto Region
Reena (joint with Central East region)
Geneva Centre for Autism Autism Ontario; PLAN Toronto
Family Service Toronto Corbrook; Operation Springboard; Griffin Centre; Jewish Vocational Services; Montage Support Services
Montage Support Services

Watch our videos: Helping people with a developmental disability live more independently

Lisa has been living with Steve and Shirl Currie in Sault Ste. Marie for about 11 years. Lisa, who has a developmental disability and is non-verbal, moved in with the Curries through Community Living Algoma's Community Homes Program.

The Community Homes Program offers an alternative to more traditional residential settings, like group homes. It provides family-like support to adults with a developmental disability who want to live on their own but cannot live in their own apartment. Home providers let the person live more independently in the community in a conventional family setting with typical family supports, like food preparation.

What are you doing to help people with a developmental disability connect with their community and enjoy a greater sense of belonging? Tell us your story.