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Financial Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs in Ontario

Summary: For parents of special needs children, this fact sheet outlines the main sources of financial help available from the Province of Ontario.
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Children and youth with special needs have medical, emotional, developmental, mental or behavioural problems that require ongoing help and support.


This fact sheet outlines the main sources of financial help, and provides some tax information about programs in the Province of Ontario. 


The federal government also has various tax deductions, credits and benefits available to help families and caregivers of children and youth with special needs. Learn more about federal programs...

Provincial programs in Ontario

1. Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD)


The ACSD program, (once called the Handicapped Children's Benefit, or HCB), helps parents with some of the extra costs of caring for a child with a disability. This funding aims to help children with disabilities live as normal a life as possible at home and in the community.


What funding and/or services are provided under the ACSD program?


1. Monthly financial assistance. This ranges from $25 to $410 per month depending on:

  • Your family's income
  • The costs of caring for your child
  • The severity of the disability
  • The type of support needed to help your child

2. Help for extra costs related to a child's disability, like:

  • Travel to doctors and hospitals
  • Parental relief
  • Special shoes and clothing
  • Basic dental care, drugs, eyeglasses, hearing aids and prescription medication not covered by another plan.

Who can get help?


Depending on income, a parent or legal guardian may be able to get help from this program if their child:

  • Is under 18 years of age;
  • Lives at home;
  • Has a severe disability;

How do we apply?


The Ministry of Child and Youth Services (MCYS) manages the ACSD program. Visit the website at or call your local MCYS office to ask for an application form. 

  • You may need to include other documents, like a letter or report from a mental health professional that states your child’s diagnosis.
  • In your application, you need to list the extra expenses you have due to your child’s disability.
  • Your application will be reviewed by a Special Agreements officer, who may also contact you to gather more information.

2. Special Services at Home (SSAH)


This program helps families who are caring for a child with a developmental or physical disability, or an adult with a developmental disability at home. The purpose of this program is to help families care for children with developmental disabilities in their own home and community.


Families can get help for:

  • Respite services. In some areas, it’s hard to find special needs caregivers. This funding can now be used to pay family members (but not parents) to care for a child to give parents a break (respite care).
  • Programs like special summer camps, which are not covered by other community services.
  • Developmental services, like paying someone to help the child develop skills.

Who can get help?

  • Families of children with a developmental disability (a diagnosis of either Autism Spectrum Disorder or Developmental Delay).
  • Families of children with a physical disability.
  • Families whose children need more help than most families can give.
  • Family income does not affect whether a family qualifies for this program.
  • The amount of money received depends on the child’s needs.


How do we apply?


The Ministry of Child and Youth Services (MCYS) manages the SSAH program. Visit the website at or call your local MCYS office to ask for an application form.



  • The application form is quite detailed. If you are connected to a community agency for support with your child, (like Service Coordination), you may want to ask your case manager or worker to help you fill it out.
  • You will need to include a medical statement or psychological assessment, outlining your child’s diagnosis.
  • Your application will be reviewed by a Special Agreements officer, who may also contact you to gather more information.

3. Provincial Assistive Devices Program (ADP)


This program helps people with physical disabilities. It provides financial help for many kinds of equipment and supplies, like:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Walkers and strollers
  • Hearing aids
  • Artificial limbs
  • Personal FM systems
  • Communication boards

For more information, contact the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, at the Assistive Devices Program, at 1-800-268-6021.


For More Information About Programs in Ontario

  • Ministry of Child and Youth Services (MCYS) for information about ACSD and SSAH. Web:

Other sources of financial assistance

  • The Easter Seal Society
    Supports for children and youth with physical disabilities such as Financial assistance for the remaining 25 % portion, not covered by Assistive Devices Program; Home and vehicle modifications; Camp fees for Easter Seal Society camps; Community camp experience
    Toll Free: 1 (800) 668-6252

About this Document:

Written by the mental health professionals at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Reviewed by the Mental Health Information Committee at CHEO. Many thanks to staff from the Benefit Programs and Individual Returns Directorates of the Canada Revenue Agency for reviewing and revising this fact sheet.


Under a Creative Commons License. You are free to share, copy and distribute this work as in its entirety, with no alterations. This work may not be used for commercial purposes. Contact the Mental Health Information Committee if you would like to adapt these for your community. Full license here:


Information in this fact sheet is meant only to give general information. We do not take any responsibility for any loss, injury, claim, liability or damage of any kind resulting from the content. Always contact an accounting, tax or health professional for more information on financial assistance.

Date Posted: Jan 22, 2016
Date of Last Revision: Oct 8, 2016

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