About the APSAO

- Adult Protective Service Association of Ontario

Who we are:

A paid membership of persons from across Ontario who are actively employed as APSWs, and other titled positions which adhere to the same mandate to specifically support people with a developmental disability who live in the community, and such supervisors who carry an active caseload. Non-voting members may be associate or honorary. We are divided by geography into four Regional Chapters, with representatives from each chapter elected to a seat on the APSAO Executive.

Our Purpose:

To provide a mechanism for advocacy on behalf of people supported by its members by acting as a collective voice and lobbying group.

To provide a professional support system for its members by:

  • offering professional development opportunities.
  • establishing a professional identity on a regional and provincial level.
  • providing orientation to new and potential new members as to structure and purpose of the APSAO.
  • offering verbal and written support to an individual and/or groups who advocate on behalf of our client population with agencies or a Provincial Ministries.
  • providing a current Directory of Adult Protective Service Workers and other similar mandated positions in Ontario.

Adult Protective Service Workers interact directly with the adult who has a developmental disability to help them access and maintain services and supports including GENERIC SERVICES AND SUPPORTS available to any member of the community. The Adult Protective Service Worker helps by supporting the individual to learn ways of managing their life in the community.

The underlying intent of the program is for the Adult Protective Service Worker to work directly alongside individuals who have a developmental disability to develop a trusting, respectful working relationship with them in order to understand the person’s strengths, areas for development and goals. This partnership needs to encourage active participation and self-determination on the part of the person who has a developmental disability in setting and working towards their goals.

History of the APSAO

The Adult Protective Service Program was established in 1974 following a pilot program called the Hamilton Guardian Project. The Hamilton Guardian Project was initiated primarily to address concerns at that time for the well being of adults who have a developmental disability who were capable of living independently in the community, but who lacked typical parental or other social support and guidance. While Ontario’s early history of developmental services focused exclusively on a medical model in which people with a developmental disability were cared for in large institutional settings, by the late 1960s, the concept of “normalizing” the lives of people who have a developmental disability, and the move to integration into the general community, were gaining worldwide favour.

The introduction of the APSW program followed soon after the enactment of the new Developmental Services Act in 1974 which transferred responsibility for services for people who have a developmental disability from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

The Minister of Community and Social Services at that time stated that the new legislation would be the first phase of implementing a policy which called for the integration of all programs for people who have a developmental disability and stated the Ministry’s belief that many people who were living in provincially-operated institutions could benefit from living as an integral part of the community. The Ministry stated, “Community participation is the cornerstone on which the philosophy of community care for people [who have a developmental disability] has been established.”

The focus of program development during this time was to enhance the extent of community living opportunities available for people with a developmental disability. Of particular importance during this period was the introduction of programs aimed at improving community supports available to people who have a developmental disability and at promoting as much individual independence as possible. The APSW program can trace its roots to these fundamental milestones in the evolution of developmental services in Ontario.

The Hamilton Guardian Project suggested that the support needs of people who have a developmental disability were largely social and that it was important to establish a service to provide people with social support, guidance and follow-up as an alternative to a more restrictive approach of legal guardianship.

The APSW program was designed to create this alternative by providing direct support to people who have a developmental disability, advocating on behalf of individuals in their efforts to access generic community services and actively promoting the development of expanded community supports.

As the developmental services system evolves, the APSW program and the role of the APSW will continue to evolve with it.

Our Legislation

The APSW program is funded under the authority of the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 (SIPDDA). The SIPDDA gives the Ministry of Community and Social Services the authority to fund specified services and supports or assistance for or on behalf of adults with a developmental disability. APSWs are identified as a Ministry-funded professional and specialized service.

The Developmental Services Act was repealed and its regulation revoked on July 1, 2011.