January 21, 2022

New Fully Funded Entry to School Program: Coming March 2022

Program Profile: Entry to School (Halton)

An exciting new autism program – that is fully funded by the MCCSS – is coming to Woodview!  The Entry to School Program, a new initiative from the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), is geared to students who will be starting Kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time.

Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services will implement this new program in March 2022 under the Lead of ErinoakKids and in partnership with Reach Out Centre for Kids (ROCK), and Community Living North Halton.

The Entry to School Program will have two stages, the first will run six months before children start Kindergarten and will operate on-site at two of Woodview’s locations in Halton: 69 Flatt Road in Burlington and Harrison School in Georgetown.

The second stage of the program continues for six months once the student has started kindergarten to provide them with the necessary support through this important transition.

The Entry to School Program was developed to better equip children with autism who would benefit from learning and developing the necessary skills before they enter the kindergarten classroom.

Holly Adair-Simpson, Clinical Supervisor at Woodview, has been leading this new initiative and says, “there are a number of skills that can be worked on in a group setting that mimics what the classroom will look like.  The setting that we’re offering is allowing children to get that much-needed group exposure and prepare them for some of the expectations of school. It’s an opportunity for kids, especially those that haven’t attended daycare before, to experience these things in a supportive environment.”

What is unique about the Entry to School Program is that Woodview will incorporate the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) and Applied Behavioural Analysis principles (ABA), which has proved successful through the LEAP Preschool Program.

Woodview will have one teacher for four students with a maximum of 8 students and two staff. The Entry to School classroom will be run by an Early Childhood Educator and an ABA Therapist.

“Children will benefit from the small classroom setting”, continued Adair-Simpson, “it’ll be a really good jumping off point for the kiddos going into kindergarten.”

The program will run Monday to Friday.  Parents can choose to enroll their child in either the morning group from 9 a.m. to noon or the afternoon session that will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The program is expected to launch this March and end in late August, with the second stage beginning in September and supporting that child through their first six months of school.

The focus of the program is to help kids build up the routine they will need once they are in kindergarten.  Students will begin their day by engaging in circle time and centre-based play so they can get exposure to group activities, and also participate in sensory and object play.

Young students in the Entry to School Program will work in small groups of 1-2 students to learn literacy and numeracy skills.

“We want to encourage movement too!  Students will be able to make the most of our outdoor playground facilities at both sites and enjoy themed weeks such as Snowman building and tying that to the Winter Olympics. Staff are planning fun and educational activities that are seasonal and will also include team sports such as playing basketball in the gym,” said Adair-Simpson.

This program is right for children with autism that would like to work on social skills and kindergarten readiness skills.

Parents and caregivers will be encouraged by the success that many families have seen through working with the Early Start Denver Model. The Entry to School Program is different from the typical ABA model (of working on one skill with one instructor while sitting at a table) in that it will encourage the student to work on multiple goals during their school day while ensuring they can work well in a group.

“It’s not 1:1 at a table, it’s really about helping develop those social skills and giving kids the opportunity to learn a variety of skills throughout the day.  We’re focusing on ensuring that the children will do well in a group.”

“The wonderful opportunity of this program” says Adair-Simpson, “is the fact that we not only will be able to support students for six months on-site before they start school but that we will also be able to provide consultation for six months after they begin school upon request to help them through that transition.”

The Entry to School Program is geared to children that have received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and who are registered in the OAP.

The provincial government will be releasing details on the referral process, parents and caregivers can check the Ministry website for details:  https://www.ontario.ca/page/selection-process-for-ontario-autism-program-services

This program is fully funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS), meaning that parents and caregivers registered in the OAP program do not pay for this program.

Families will receive an invitation from the OAP

Access to the Entry to School program is by invitation only. Families who are registered in the OAP program will receive information on how to apply for the Entry to School Program.

If you believe that you are eligible and have not yet received an invitation from the MCCSS, please check your email’s junk folder (as some people have reported that their invitations have gone there) or contact the MCCSS Central Intake & Registration Team if you have questions.

For up-to-date information about the Entry to School program, please visit the OAP website.

How to register for the Entry to School program:

Please contact ErinoakKids to be registered in this Woodview program:

Tel: 905-855-2690, then press 1
Toll-free: 1-877-374-6625, then press 1

Reach out to us with questions

If you have questions, please contact Holly Adair-Simpson, Clinical Supervisor of the program at Woodview, at hadair-simpson@woodview.ca.