When we formed government, the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) was broken. It wasn’t serving children with autism and it wasn’t supporting families. Fewer than one third of children were receiving services. That was unacceptable, which is why we doubled funding for the OAP to $600 million – the largest investment in autism services in Ontario’s history. This investment means we are now supporting more than 40,000 children -- four times the number of children who received services under the previous program.
Three new key initiatives that will form an intergral part of this comprehensive plan to support more children with autism are:
- The selection of the Independent Intake Organization will provide families with a single point of access to the Ontario Autism Program. The IIO will be involved in all steps of a family’s journey in the program, from intake to funding allocations, allowing for a more coordinated and integrated approach to delivering services.
- The launch of the Entry to School Program. Starting in January 2022, eligible families will receive invitations for the program which will help prepare children to start kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time.
- The awarding of Workforce Capacity Grants. Eighty applicants have been identified to build, retain and develop the workforce, including behaviour analysts, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and mental health clinicians.
This was all announced on December 3, 2021 by my colleague Minister Fullerton to make it easier for families to access services in the needs-based Ontario Autism Program (OAP) with the selection of the Independent Intake Organization (IIO).