It is true that COVID-19 has changed and impacted many lives and livelihoods, but particularly it has taken a hard toll on Autism families in Ontario. With fewer support and services, it became even more difficult for racialized and marginalized families facing inequities, systemic barriers and isolation to access what is already a complex system to navigate for funding and supports.
While the Ontario government is working towards developing a needs-based and sustainable Autism program, here’s an easy to follow guide to understand the process, access funding, resources and support for children under 18.
Funding and income sources:
- Once the family receives a diagnosis, register for the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) offered by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. Children who are on waitlist for OAP are eligible to receive an interim one-time funding and a childhood budget to directly purchase services and supports.
- For support with items for sensory needs and home based activities, apply for Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities. Online application can be found here.
- Apply for a Disability Tax Credit Certificate to help reduce parents or guardian’s income tax. In addition, the caregiver could be eligible for Canada workers benefit with a disability supplement and the child disability benefit. If DTC was given for previous tax years, the caregiver will be eligible to get tax refunds for those years by applying for a tax reassessment.
- With the Ontario Child Care Tax Credit, you could receive up to 75% of your eligible child care expenses which includes child care centers, homes and camps.
- The Low-Income Workers Tax Credit provides up to $850 each year in Ontario personal income tax relief to low-income workers, including those earning minimum wage.
- To plan for the future financial well-being of the child with a disability the caregiver can enroll in the Registered Disability Savings Plan.
- For March and Summer Break Respites, funding for either a one-on-one support worker or camp registration is available.
- Easter Seals Incontinence Supplies Grant Program provides funding to cover extraordinary expenses such as diapers.
Autism Services and Supports:
- Register for the Service Navigator at Autism Ontario to understand the childhood budget funding and to find local services and supports.
- Preschool children with special needs, who attend a licensed day care in Peel can be connected with resourcing programs and additional coaching by a resource support consultant at PIRS, to help children fully participate in child care.
- Kids Pathways Peel offers planning and coordination services for families with children and youth who have special needs. Anyone can make a referral by using the referral form and the consent form to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Connect with the service provider in your region to learn about the types of programming and how to enroll in those services tailored to suit your child’s needs.
- Apply for the Special Services at Home Program to receive respite services by direct support workers who help the child learn new skills and abilities. To find out if you are eligible to get out-of-home or enhanced respite, please contact the regional office. To find respite services in your area, visit respiteservices.com.
- If your child has a long-term disability, get help paying for equipment and supplies when you qualify for the Assistive Devices Program.
- Children under 17 in low income families can qualify for free teeth cleaning, checkups and dental treatment through Healthy Smiles Ontario Program.
- For blindness/ low-vision, hard of hearing assessments, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, ABA/IBI therapies and for service planning coordination support in Peel, contact ErinOakKids.
- Parent of special needs children up to 18 years old who meet the criteria can apply for financial support for child care in the region of Peel, using the application found here.
As you can see, navigating the complex funding and resources can be very daunting for Autism families with language and digital literacy barriers especially during this pandemic. At no cost, the experienced settlement counsellors at Indus Community Services can help your family find and receive the necessary funding and supports specific to your needs. We are only a call (905-275-2369) away!