New Funding Option Available for Families of Children with Autism

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Families of children with autism will be glad to know that funding options will be expanded for children and youth with autism by the end of this year.

The direct funding service option, a new, permanent service, will be implemented through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP).

The direct funding service option will allow all families to choose between receiving direct service or receiving funding to purchase services for their child.

If a family is currently receiving direct funding, they will continue to receive their funding throughout the transition, and will be able to choose the new OAP direct funding option to receive services from their preferred provider.

The transition to the new OAP begins in June 2017. The program will provide services that are flexible and tailored to the unique needs of each child and will be fully in place by spring 2018.

"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," said Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services. "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."

Alongside the new funding option, the estimated 40,000 children and youth with autism in Ontario will be able to receive the services they need sooner through the new program, which includes a single point of entry for families to more easily access services and will create 16,000 new spaces over five years.

The province will continue to engage with families, caregivers, advocates, clinicians and providers, including the OAP Advisory Committee, to ensure the new program is providing the best possible supports and services for children and youth with autism, from diagnosis to adulthood.

"After 12 years of advocating for Direct Funding (DFO), the Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) is pleased that Minister Coteau has listened, and committed the government to this funding model. DFO will give families greater choice and flexibility in service delivery at a fraction of the cost-per-child," said Bruce McIntosh, President of the Ontario Autism Coalition.

Parents can call 1-888-284-8340 toll-free for more information or to find their nearest ministry regional office. Streamlined entry to autism services through a toll-free number in families' regions will also be provided as part of the new OAP.

In total, the province is investing approximately half of a billion dollars over the next four years to create new services for children and youth with Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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