Starting in January 2022, eligible families will receive invitations for the entry to school program, which will help prepare children who are starting kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time.
The entry to school program includes two main parts. The first part is a six-month, group-based, skill-building program, focused on helping children develop school-readiness skills in six areas:
- Communication – such as, conversation, expressing wants and needs, understanding words and language, social communication, and non-verbal communication
- Play – such as, toy exploration, and engaging in group play/games
- Social interaction – such as, understanding of social boundaries, interactions with peers, and learning new behaviours by observing/imitating peers
- Functional routines – such as, following classroom routines, and self-help skills such as dressing and toilet training
- Behavioural self-management – such as, emotional regulation and being able to wait their turn
- Pre-academics, learning and attention – such as, developing new learning skills, working within a group setting, and independent work
Eligibility and Registration
To participate in the entry to school program, your child must be:
- Registered with the Ontario Autism Program and have received an invitation from the Ontario Autism Program to participate in Entry to School
- between three (3) to six (6) years old as of December 31 in the year they are starting school
- starting kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time
Some children are not eligible for the entry to school program, including children:
- who are receiving core clinical services
- with an active behaviour plan
- who have already started attending school
Children who are in the entry to school program can receive other Ontario Autism Program supports (other than OAP core clinical services), special needs supports and/or early intervention programs at the same time. For example, your child can receive foundational family services at the same time as the entry to school program.
The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS), through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), is sending invitations to all eligible families. We encourage you to add the Ontario Autism Program email address – OAP@ontario.ca – to your “safe senders” list to make sure you get the invitation. Once you receive an invitation, you can contact the service provider listed in your invitation to ask questions about the program and to register. You must register with the service provider listed in your invitation.
*Please note, you must receive an invitation from the ministry before you can register for the program.
Who can deliver Entry to School?
This group-based program includes a multi-disciplinary team approach and is delivered by staff with expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Applied Behaviour Analysis.
The program includes naturalistic skill building and individualized programming for each child’s developmental profile. The program ensures that input is lead by the family/caregiver(s), an Entry to School Therapist, Registered Early Learning & Child Care staff, is supervised by a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and includes any current service providers/team members who might be involved with the child/family/caregiver(s)
The group-based part of the program is intended to be delivered in person in an early learning and childcare setting. Online/virtual delivery options may be considered if required due to the pandemic or to address local needs and/or family preference.
After completing the group-based part of the program, children will start the second part of the program, which provides them with individual transition supports as they enter school. Families and educators will also be able to access consultation services from entry to school program staff, as needed, during a child’s first six months in school.
The program is offered free of charge and is available in English and French. Interpretation services for other languages will be available as needed.