Easier path to cash for adults, kids with disabilities
September 9, 2016
Posted in: Uncategorized
Ontario is making it easier for adults and kids with disabilities to apply for support. Recipients of support no longer have to prove their condition twice.
Peter is a child in Leslieville who will benefit from changes to the Autism plan, along with mom Marguerite Scabas and dad Steven Sherwood. (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star) | Order this photo
By Laurie MonsebraatenSocial justice reporter
Fri., Sept. 9, 2016
In the wake of the provincial ombudsman’s damning report on disability services last month, Queen’s Park is streamlining access to financial support for children and adults.
The changes to Special Services at Home (SSAH) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), which took effect Sept. 1, will help about 22,000 children and 3,000 adults a year, government officials said this week.
Until now, young people with developmental disabilities, such as autism and Down syndrome, had to prove their disability twice — once when seeking government funding for adult developmental services and again when applying for income support from ODSP.
But under the changes, adults who qualify for developmental-services funding — which provides support for residential care, caregiver respite and other programs — will no longer have to go through a second process to verify their disability for ODSP. Existing financial requirements under ODSP, a welfare program for people with disabilities, will still apply.
“It didn’t make sense to require people to prove their disability over and over again. Now, they won’t have to,” said Helena Jaczek, MPP for Oak Ridges-Markham and the province’s minister of community and social services.
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For children under age 18 with a developmental disability who are receiving financial support through SSAH, the province will no longer force parents to reapply every year. Funding will be renewed automatically at the current level until they turn 18. Support levels can be reassessed if needs change, government officials added.
Toronto mother Marguerite Schabas, whose 4-year-old son Peter has autism, welcomed the news.
“It is going to take away some of the stress from families and help them focus on the important stuff,” she said.
Schabas and her husband Steven Sherwood, who have three other sons under age 10 without autism, get about $3,000 a year in SSAH funding which they use on respite and to pay for music and other programs for Peter.
“A child’s needs at this level . . . don’t change overnight. So checking in every year is not necessary. It’s a level of administration that families and government don’t need,” Schabas said.
“I really hope that whatever they save on this streamlining they can use to help more families,” Schabas added. “That’s what’s going to make the difference.”
Developmental services in Ontario, by the numbers
42,000: Adults receiving provincially funded developmental services.
19,000: Adults receiving developmental services who get Passport funding of up to $35,000 annually that allows caregivers to pay for respite and community supports.
$10,000: Average annual funding under Passport.
$1,110: Maximum monthly benefit for a single person with a disability under ODSP.
22,000: Children receiving Special Services at Home funding of up to $10,000 a year.
$3,800: Average annual funding under SSAH.