Post Secondary Transitions

“Transitioning from high school is like falling off a cliff….”

- parent of a youth with special needs in Ontario

Transition planning is important for all students; however, for students who will require post-secondary community services and supports it is essentially a detailed plan that is developed and implemented. Individuals with developmental and/or physical disabilities can access services and support through: the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities as well as some community-sponsored programs.

Once an individual turns 21, it is no longer a system of entitlement. Individuals with disabilities do not have a right to day programs, supported employment, further training or basic skills development. This comes as a shock to many families, especially those who have not been actively researching and pursuing community services for children with disabilities.

In 2008 the Ontario government passed the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act. This replaced the Developmental Services Act (which was repealed in 2011.) The new act requires all individuals with a Developmental Disability in Ontario who require services from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to apply to a government application and funding entity. According to the act, “[e]very application entity shall provide a single point of access to services and supports funded under this Act for persons with developmental disabilities residing in the geographic area described in the entity’s designation." This new ‘single point of access’ is the Developmental Services of Ontario (DSO).

Currently, in its second year, Developmental Services of Ontario has altered how individuals can access services and funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The following details the process:

- At age sixteen, an application for services and supports should be initiated with DSO. This involves supplying the following documentation: - Proof of Canadian Citizenship - Proof of age - Proof of Ontario residency - A psychological assessment signed by a clinical psychologist which includes cognitive and adaptive results - Current IEP and IPRC
The application can be made on-line at
DSOER Application. Once the applicant has been determined eligible, an assessor will be assigned to complete the Ministry’s Application for Developmental Services and Supports (ADSS) and the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) assessments. These two assessments will be conducted through two, two to three hour-long interviews with the individual and two other people who are familiar with the individual and his or her needs.

Once the individual has met the requirements for services and the level of services required has been determined by the assessor, the individual will be assigned a caseworker through Service Co-ordination. The caseworker will work with the student and family to determine appropriate programs and services. The individual can be placed on waiting lists for services as of his or her eighteenth birthday.

Many families, knowing their son or daughter has seven years of secondary school, do not pursue applications for post-secondary services after only the second year. But parents/guardians must initiate the process when the student is 16 years of age. The importance of this cannot be understated, as there are long waiting lists for applications to be assessed and even longer waiting lists for services.

Students with developmental and/or physical disabilities will need to make applications to a number of agencies. In preparation for a student reaching the age of 18, applications for income support and employment supports through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) need to be made. Although ODSP is administered by the same ministry as Developmental Services of Ontario (DSO), a separate application process is required for ODSP support.

Adaptive Learning Program is funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. It provides training and basic literacy and numeracy programs for individuals with disabilities. Because the program is funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and not the Ministry of Community and Social Services, applications are made directly to the program and do not go through DSO.

Causeway Work Centre offers services to individuals with disabilities who require support with employment opportunities. Like the Adaptive Learning Program, individuals do not need to go through DSO but can apply directly to Causeway.

Developmental Services Ontario (DSO)

Eastern Region

200-150 Montreal Rd.

Ottawa, ON

K1L 8H2



Crystal Betton-Janes

Case Manager, Adult Services (18 and over)

613-748-1788 x 247

[email protected]

Emily Newman

Case Manager, Children's Services (under 18)

613-748-1788 x 241

[email protected]

Service Co-ordination Support (SCS) Ontario Service Coordination Support (SCS) is the initial contact for people who have a developmental disability or autism in Ottawa and the Eastern Region. They help people find available resources in the community that are needed to assist them in their daily lives. 
ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program)

Ministry of Community and Social Services

Eastern Region

347 Preston Street 3rd floor

Ottawa, Ontario

K1S 2T7


Adaptive Learning Program

Albert Street Education Centre

440 Albert Street

Ottawa, ON

K1R 5B5


Causeway Work Centre

22 O’Meara Street

Ottawa, Ontario

K1Y 4N6



Connecting with Community Agencies

Community Contacts

Annual Checklist for Transitions

Adaptive Learning Pamphlet

OCDSB Transitions Planning Ages 17-19

OCDSB Transition Planning Ages 14-17

FOCUS on Transition Tip List

Sir Guy Carleton's Post Secondary Transition Planning Form for Parents

Services You Should be Aware of

Parent Resource Guide - Directory

StoreFront School

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