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Ontario College Diploma | 4 semesters | Barrydowne

Build your skills to launch a rewarding career where you can make difference in the lives of individuals who have special needs – without having to leave your home community.

The Developmental Services Worker – Alternate Delivery program is delivered as a combination of virtual video instruction, online courses, and field placement, a great option if you require flexibility in your College schedule.

You'll first learn about the stages of human development, the types of developmental disabilities, and the range of community supports. In the following semesters, you will learn intervention techniques,

Person-centered planning, abnormal psychology/dual diagnosis, basic pharmacology, how to support people with autism, augmentative forms of communication, and prevention of and effective responses to people who have been abused. You will also develop the relationship building and critical thinking skills required to assist people with intellectual disabilities in identifying problems and solutions.

In-class learning will be complemented by extensive hands-on experience gained through five block placements, beginning with a placement one day a week for nine weeks in semester and continuing with placements in semesters three and four.

You will come away from this program with many practical skills, including how to:

  • Communicate with clients in sign language and picture symbols

  • Safely administer medications

  • Create effective plans to teach new skills and behaviours and how to reinforce and maintain effective skills and positive behaviours over time

  • Assist individuals with physical disabilities

  • Help those with special needs to integrate into the community

  • Work with families

Program Highlights
  • 2 years – 4 semesters

  • Complete all course work from your home community

  • Placement in semester one plus five additional block placements – the largest number of block placements of any Ontario college

  • Small classes taught by industry experts who are active in the field

  • Get hands-on experience in counselling, report writing, developing programs for individuals with disabilities, crisis management, and more

  • Opportunities for summer and/or part-time employment with local organizations

  • Earn certifications in First Aid and CPR and Non-violent Crisis Intervention during the program

  • Fast-track option may be available through the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process and/or Advanced Standing if you have related work experience or a related diploma/degree


There will be a field placement in the first and third semesters concurrent with classes. The fourth semester is a full-time placement. First Aid and CPR certification is required prior to the first semester placement. An up-to-date medical is required in addition to hepatitis "A" and "B" immunization, TB test, and tetanus shot prior to placement in first semester. Note: Some placement sites may require an influenza shot. All of the above requirements must be maintained and current for the purpose of attending placements. Students with a positive criminal record check may be refused placement by agencies and school boards.

Quick Links

How to Apply

Community Services

Admission Requirements

For graduates of the new curriculum (OSS): Ontario Secondary School Diploma (30 credits) or equivalent or mature student status, including:

  • Any grade 12 English (C), (U), or (M)


  • Computer competency in relevant software

  • Any grade 11 mathematics (C), (U), or (M)

  • Any biology (C), (U), or (M)

  • A valid driver's license

  • Volunteer work/co-op placement in a related area

Additional Requirements
  • First Aid and CPR certification prior to entering the second year

  • Non-violent Crisis Intervention prior to the end of second semester

  • An up-to-date criminal record check is required prior to all field placements. Agencies may not accept students with a positive Criminal Record Check

  • Ability to participate in non-violent Crisis Intervention training

  • Ability to assist individuals with developmental and other disabilities in all aspects of daily living as required, including lifting and transferring

  • Up-to-date medical


Program Delivery


This program will be delivered in the following terms:

Fall Semester

For specific term start/end dates and other key dates/deadlines, please see the 2017-18 Academic Schedule which will be posted on our website in early 2017.

Program of Study

Semester 1Credits
DSW 1024Group Dynamics and Advocacy 2
DSW 1025Field Seminar 1
DSW 1115Positive Behavioral Supports I 3
DSW 1117Disabilities Strategies I 3
DSW 1125Understanding Disabilities 2
ENG 1002College Communications 3
HSC 1136Basic Nursing Skills 3
PSY 1135Issues in Developmental Psychology 3
The following General Education course:  3
Introduction To Psychology I 3
 Term Credits: 23
Semester 2
DSW 1022Field Work IIA 4
DSW 1210Community Employability Skills 3
DSW 1217Disabilities Strategies II 3
DSW 1218Positive Behavioral Supports II 3
DSW 1230Autism Spectrum Disorders 3
ENG 1242Speaking/Writing Comm. Services I 3
HSC 1236Basic Nursing Skills II 3
One of the following General Education courses:  3
Personal Finance 3
Positive Psychology 3
Human Sexuality 3
Intro to Indigenous Studies 3
Media and Current Events 3
 Term Credits: 25
Semester 3
DSW 1021Pharmacology for Developmental Services Worker 2
DSW 1023Field Work IIB 4
DSW 1225Crisis Management and Prevention 3
DSW 2310Dual Diagnosis Treatment Assess 3
DSW 2316Adult Issues and Advocacy 3
DSW 2317Disability and Communication Systems 3
DSW 2330Positive Behav Supports III 3
One of the following General Education courses:  3
Personal Finance 3
Positive Psychology 3
Human Sexuality 3
Intro to Indigenous Studies 3
Media and Current Events 3
 Term Credits: 24
Semester 4
DSW 2405Field Work III 7
DSW 2495Field Work IV 8
 Term Credits: 15
 Total Credits: 87
Tuition and Ancillary Fees

Please see our fees page for the breakdown of tuition and mandatory ancillary fees by program and semester for both domestic and international students.

Books & Supplies

The cost of books and supplies for Year 1 is approximately $2,000. This is the best information available at the time of publishing to the website and is subject to change.

Employment Opportunities

Developmental Service Worker graduates make difference in the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. According to Statistics Canada, more than 60,000 Ontarians have a developmental disability. Skilled and caring developmental services workers help these people to live, work, and participate in their communities as valued citizens. Our graduates have a comprehensive understanding of developmental disabilities, knowledge of teaching and training strategies, skills in the area of behavioural interventions, and the desire to help others that help them build a rewarding career in this social services field.

DSW graduates support children and adults with intellectual disabilities, autism, physical challenges, or other special needs. This can lead to a range of positions, including:

  • Community support worker

  • Educational/teaching assistant in a school

  • Classroom assistant in a daycare centre

  • Counsellor in a seniors' program

  • Residential counsellor

  • Day program counsellor

University Degree Opportunities

Graduates from this program may continue their studies at university and may receive credit for their prior College education. Refer to College/University Agreements for further information.

Please note: Cambrian College strives to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website. Please note that the academic curriculum is continually reviewed and revised to ensure that Cambrian's programs and courses remain relevant. The College reserves the right to cancel or make changes to any course or program, fee, procedure, or campus location at any time.

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