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Ontario College Diploma | 4 semesters | Barrydowne

As a Developmental Services Professional, students are embarking on a rewarding career supporting children and adults experiencing life with a developmental and intellectual disabilities. Students will learn how to effectively develop a person centered approach to support a child's and adult's emotional, mental, physical, and/or social needs. Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are examples of the content you will study in the program.

Students will learn about the stages of human development, the diversity associated with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and the range of community supports. In addition, students will learn to work within the legislative frameworks governing the Developmental Services Sector and Education Sector as they relate to prevention and intervention techniques, person-centered planning, individual education plans, dual diagnosis, basic nursing, pharmacology, alternate forms of communication, and the constructing of a safe, respectful, and dignified life. Students will develop advocacy skills through relationship building and the critical thinking skills required to support people who experience life with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The Developmental Services Worker - Alternate Delivery Program is delivered as a combination of virtual video instruction and online courses; a great option if you require flexibility in your College schedule. Online learning will be complemented by extensive hands-on experience gained through placement opportunities in your local community, beginning with a placement block in semester two and continuing with placements in semesters three and four.

Students will gain the following skill sets from this program:

  • Communication using alternate communication systems: sign language and a picture exchange communication system
  • Administration of medications and basic nursing care
  • Advocacy for supports and services in community and educational settings
  • Creation of effective informal and formal person centered plans and individual education plans
  • Creation of positive behaviour support plans and positive intervention and instructional strategies
  • Supporting individuals across the diverse spectrum of disabilities
  • Supporting individuals experiencing life with a developmental and intellectual disability to integrate into their community of belonging
  • Working collaboratively with inter-professional teams, families, and community professionals

Program Highlights

  • 2 years - 4 semesters

  • Field placement opportunities in semesters two, three, and four

  • Small classes taught by industry experts who are active in the Developmental Services Sector and Education Sector

  • Hands-on experience in advocacy, report writing, developing informal and formal strategies for individuals experiencing life with disabilities and learning needs, crisis management, and much more

  • Opportunities for summer and/or part-time employment with agencies in the Developmental Services Sector

  • Certification in Non-violent Crisis Intervention and Prevention

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


Prior to the first field placement block in second semester, students will be required to complete the following:

  • Two-step TB test
  • First Aid and CPR Certification
  • Criminal Records Check - Vulnerable Sector Screening
  • Record of up-to-date immunizations

Please note:

  • Some Field Placement Sites may require students to obtain an influenza shot and / or a Respiratory Mask Fit Test.
  • Students with a positive criminal records check may be refused placement by Agencies in the Developmental Services Sector and the Board of Education.
  • Criminal Records Checks - Vulnerable Sector Screening must be 3 to 6 months current for each placement block. Placement Agencies in the Developmental Services Sector and the Boards of Education determine these timelines.
  • Agencies in the Developmental Services Sector may require students to obtain a valid Class G driver’s license for employment opportunities.

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 the second semester placement
  • Ability to participate in Non-violent Crisis Intervention Training
  • Non-violent Crisis Intervention prior to the fourth semester placement
  • 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 assist individuals living life with 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 Term Start

  1. SEMESTER 1 Fall 2019
  2. SEMESTER 2 Winter 2020
  3. SEMESTER 3 Fall 2020
  4. SEMESTER 4 Winter 2021

For specific term start/end dates and other key dates/deadlines, please see the Academic Schedule on our website.

Program of Study

Plan of Study Grid
Semester 1Credits
DSW 1024 Group Dynamics and Advocacy 2
DSW 1027 Self Care Skills 2
DSW 1026 Field Seminar 2
DSW 1117 Disabilities Strategies I 3
DSW 1125 Understanding Disabilities 2
ENG 1002 College Communications 3
HSC 1136 Basic Nursing Skills 3
PSY 1135 Issues in Developmental Psychology 3
One of the following General Education course: 3
Introduction To Psychology I  
Introduction to Indigenous Studies  
Human Sexuality  
Personal Finance  
Positive Psychology  
Semester 2
DSW 1022 Field Work IIA 4
DSW 1210 Community Employability Skills 3
DSW 1217 Disabilities Strategies II 3
DSW 1115 Positive Behavioral Supports I 3
DSW 1230 Autism Spectrum Disorders 3
HSC 1236 Basic Nursing Skills II 3
ENG 1700 Communications II 3
One of the following General Education courses: 3
Personal Finance  
Positive Psychology  
Human Sexuality  
Intro to Powwow Culture  
Semester 3
DSW 1021 Pharmacology for Developmental Services Worker 2
DSW 1023 Field Work IIB 4
DSW 1225 Crisis Management and Prevention 3
DSW 2310 Dual Diagnosis: Assessment & Treatment 3
DSW 2316 Adult Issues and Advocacy 3
DSW 2317 Disability and Communication Systems 3
DSW 1218 Positive Behavioral Supports II 3
One of the following General Education courses: 3
Personal Finance  
Truth and Reconciliation  
Positive Psychology  
Human Sexuality  
Semester 4
DSW 1028 Fieldwork III 14
 Total Credits86


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.

Graduate Options

Employment Opportunities

Developmental Services Worker graduates make a difference in the lives of children and adults experiencing life with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families. According to Statistics Canada, more than 60,000 Ontarians experience life with a developmental and intellectual disability. As a skilled and caring Developmental Services Professional, you can support individuals living life with a developmental and intellectual disability to live, work, and participate in their communities as valued citizens. Your comprehensive understanding of developmental and intellectual disabilities, knowledge of teaching and training strategies, skills in the area of behaviour management (prevention and intervention strategies), and the desire to help others will help you build a rewarding career in the Social Services and Education Sectors.

Developmental Services Worker graduates support children and adults living life with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and / or dual diagnosis. This can lead to a range of positions, including:

  • Developmental Services Professional / Direct Support Professional

  • Educational Assistants

  • Supported Employment Professional

  • Independent Contracting Professional

  • Respite Professional

  • Community Participation Supports / Day Support Professional; including children, adults, and seniors

College/University Degree Opportunities

Graduates from this program may continue their studies at college/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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