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How the Special Needs Strategy Began

How the Special Needs Strategy Began

In 2012, families and service providers told former Minister Tracy MacCharles, when she was Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children and Youth Services, about their experiences with special needs services. Parents said:

We don’t know where to go or what to do when we have a concern about our child.

Finding services can be confusing and services can be difficult to navigate.

The current system can create unnecessary waits for and gaps in

The report ‘Services for Children and Youth with Special Needs in Ontario, and their Families: Opportunities for Improving their Experiences and Outcomes’ (March 2013) shares the stories of families’ experiences with services and identifies opportunities to improve the service experiences and outcomes of families with children and youth with special needs.

In 2014 the Ministries of Children and Youth Services, Community and Social Services, Education and Health and Long-Term Care introduced the Special Needs Strategy, to improve services for children and youth with special needs in Ontario guided by the following vision:

“An Ontario where children and youth with special needs get the timely and effective services they need to participate fully at home, at school, in the community, and as they prepare to achieve their goals for adulthood.”

The Ministries described the first steps in the Special Needs Strategy as including:

  • Developing and implementing a new standard developmental screen for preschool children;
  • Putting in place coordinated child and family-centred service planning for children and youth with multiple and/or complex needs (CSP); and
  • Working with communities to develop local implementation plans for an integrated approach to the delivery of child and youth rehabilitation services (IDRS) including speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy).