Ontario Connecting Children and Youth with Specialized Care

Patrick D Costa

The Ontario government is investing $97 million over three years to launch a pilot program at three major hospitals in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa to help children and youth with complex special needs such as developmental and intellectual disabilities, mental health concerns, chronic conditions and physical disabilities, connect to the highly individualized and specialized care they need.

Beginning in April 2023, the Integrated Pathway for Children and Youth with Extensive Needs pilot program will be offered at McMaster Children’s Hospital, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

“Our government is taking action to expand supports for children and youth with complex medical needs so they can lead healthier, happier lives,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “We are investing in creative and innovative solutions that will improve the lives and outcomes for our most vulnerable children and their families.”

Families participating in the program will connect to a team of professionals, including physicians, social workers and behavioural consultants who work together to provide tailored support based on the individual needs of the child or youth and their families. Services can include adjusting medications, personalized behaviour support plans, mental health assessments and treatment, social work such as counselling for parents and caregivers, and specialized interventions to support children and youth to build skills such as communication and self-regulation.

“We have heard loud and clear that Ontarians want connected and convenient care, and our government is taking bold action,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “The status quo isn’t working, and programs like this innovative integrated pathway will help to ensure children with complex special needs get the care they deserve.”

Participating hospitals will work closely with local agencies serving children and youth with complex needs to identify children and youth who may be eligible to receive services through the pilot. Parents and caregivers can also speak to their service provider to find out whether services and supports delivered through the Integrated Pathway for Children and Youth with Extensive Needs pilot would be appropriate for their child.

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