Applying for Developmental Services and Supports in Ontario

Once the Developmental Services Ontario agency has confirmed that a person is eligible for developmental services and supports that are funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, it is time to begin the next steps in the application process.

The application consists of two separate forms and (at least) two separate meetings.

The first meeting is with an Assessor who will complete the Application for Developmental Services and Supports (ADSS) with the person who has a developmental disability and their caregiver(s). This part of the application process helps us get to know the person a little better.

We will begin by collecting some general information about the person's referral, medical conditions, capabilities and background information which will help us get a good understanding of the person's needs. We will then move to a section called, "Getting to Know You." In this section, we will talk about things that the person likes and dislikes, as well as their dreams and future goals.

Next, the Assessor will schedule a time to complete the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS). This part of the application tells us about the level of support a person needs to be successful in a variety of areas. These areas include: home living, community activities, lifelong learning, employment, social activities and protection and advocacy. We will also talk about support the person might need for different medical or behavioural issues.

Preparing for Your Meetings

An Assessor is assigned to each person requesting an application package. The Assessor will:

  • Set a time and location for (at least) two meetings;
  • Confirm that the individual will be part of the application process;
  • Confirm that two respondents will be available for both meetings;
  • Confirm that an authorized person will be able to provide consent, either before or during the meetings.

Meetings can be scheduled at flexible times and in different locations, as long as the setting is private and allows for comfortable seating. Each meeting will take approximately two hours, depending on the needs of the person and the amount of information shared.


The Application for Developmental Services and the Supports and the Supports Intensity Scale collect personal information about people applying for services and supports. This information will be used by Developmental Services Ontario agencies to assess individual needs so that we can identify services and supports that might be helpful to you. We can share your information with service providers if you ask us to. We will also share your information with the Ministry of Community and Social Services to be used for the planning of future services.

Application for Developmental Services and Supports

During the first meeting, the Assessor from Developmental Services Ontario will complete the Application for Developmental Services and Supports with the person who has a developmental disability and their caregiver(s). This application form gathers information on the following:

  • Reason for contact/reason for current request
  • Information about the person's current circumstances
  • Confirmation that they are eligible to receive services
  • Who is making the referral
  • Decision-making status/guardianship
  • Physical and sensory needs, and other medical conditions
  • Expressive and receptive communication abilities
  • Current living situation and financial status
  • Supports needed during overnight hours
  • Transportation needs
  • Care and caregiver concerns
  • Current services and supports
  • Services and supports being requested. This may include:
    • Community participation supports
    • Employment supports
    • Vocational alternative supports
    • Direct funding
    • Agency residential supports
    • Caregiver respite
    • Person-directed planning
    • Specialized and professional services
  • Additional information about medical and/or behavioural needs
  • Other issues such as police or court involvement

Getting to Know You

During the first meeting, we will ask questions about how the person spends their time, their likes and dislikes, and their gifts and talents. This is part of the "Getting to Know You" section of the application form.

This part of the application will also help to identify ways the person with a developmental disability can get involved in their community. Achieving their personal dreams and goals may require supports and services funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and it will be helpful for us to know how the supports you are requesting fit into the person's life plan. For this reason, during this part of the interview, we will ask questions like the ones below.

  • Tell us about yourself. What do you do during the daytime, where do you live and how are those things going for you?
  • What are your special talents and gifts? What are the things that other people like about you and the things you like about yourself?
  • What are the things you like?
  • What makes a really great day for you?
  • What are the things you don't like?
  • What makes a bad day for you?
  • What are you dreams?
  • What are your goals for next year?
  • What is most important to you in your life?
  • What do other people think is most important for you?

Care Concerns

To understand your situation better, we will need to ask some important questions during our meetings. These questions will be about how the needs of the person with a developmental disability affect you as their caregiver, and about the kinds of medical or behavioural support they may need. The first four questions will be about their health conditions and the next four will be about their behavioural needs. We will also ask questions about safety to help us learn more about your well-being and the well-being of the person you care for.

We will then talk with you about your ability to continue providing support for the person's needs. Some caregivers do not want to talk about these needs in front of their family member. If this is the case, we can go over your answers in private after the second interview. You can also choose to answer the questions on paper and give them back to the interviewer later.

Caregiver Concerns

In this section of the application, we ask questions about the primary caregiver's ability to provide care and support to the person with a developmental disability. We also try to better understand the caregiver's and family's needs. We especially want to talk about any physical or personal health issues that a parent/caregiver may have, since this can affect how much support they are able to provide at home. We also look at other family circumstances that may affect the caregiver in their support role.

The information from this section of the application helps us understand how urgent a person's situation may be, and can be used to "prioritize" their request for services and supports. Personal information about caregivers is not shared with agencies (unless a caregiver gives us their permission).

Supports Intensity Scale

The Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) is an assessment that asks questions about the kind of supports a person needs to enjoy a positive quality of life at home, in their community and in their personal relationships.

The first section asks about the kind of support people may need with activities at home, in the community and in a workplace; with health and safety; with social activities and with lifelong learning. The second section asks about a person's protection and advocacy-related support needs. The third section asks about the person's special medical and behavioural support needs.

A qualified Assessor from the DSO meets with at least two people who know the individual well. The person with a developmental disability may answer the questions themselves if they are able to communicate about their support needs, but whether or not this is possible, they are always part of the process.

The Supports Intensity Scale will take about three hours to complete.

Following the Application

Developmental Services Ontario will provide a letter confirming the services and supports you are on the registry for.

The DSO application documents will be used to help service providers know:

  • Whether their agency might be able to provide support to you
  • How urgently the help is needed
  • How to begin planning for residential, respite or other services with you and,
  • How to help you set up services and supports.

This information will be used for service planning with other developmental service agencies. We are happy to share information with any people or agencies that you choose.

Developmental Services Ontario will update information for people who are on waiting lists for services and supports. This helps us make sure we have current contact information and to confirm that people wish to remain on the waiting list. It will also allow us to find out if the person's or caregiver's needs have changed.

It is important to call us if you are planning to move or change your phone number. If you move to a new region, we can send your application information to the Developmental Services Ontario agency in your new community.

If your needs change very significantly, please call the Developmental Services Ontario agency. We will ensure that the information we have on file is up-to-date and accurate.

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