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Ontario College Diploma | 4 semesters | Barrydowne

As a Developmental Services Professional, you are embarking on a rewarding career by supporting children and/or adults experiencing life with a disability. You will learn how to effectively develop a person centered approach to support an individual’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.

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

In-class learning will be complemented by extensive hands-on experience gained through four block placements, beginning with a placement in semester two, and continuing with placements in semesters three and four.

You 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
  • Creation of effective informal and formal person centered plans
  • Creation of positive behaviour support plans and positive intervention and instructional strategies
  • Supporting individuals across the diverse spectrum of disabilities
  • Helping those experiencing life with a disability to integrate into the community
  • Working collaboratively with families and community professionals

Program Highlights

  • 2 years - 4 semesters

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

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

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

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

  • 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 if you have related work experience or a related diploma/degree

  • Alternate delivery option available


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

  • Two-step TB test
  • Hepatitis B Immunization
  • First Aid Certification
  • Criminal Record Check – vulnerable persons check
  • Record of up-to-date immunizations
  • Obtain a note from a physician indicating freedom from communicable diseases

Please note:

  • Some field placement sites may require an influenza shot and/or a Respiratory Mask Fit Test
  • Students with a positive criminal records check may be refused placement by agencies and school boards
  • Criminal records checks must be 3-6 months current for each placement block. Placement agencies determine these timelines
  • Many adult sector positions require a valid Class G driver’s license

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 2018
  2. SEMESTER 2 Winter 2019
  3. SEMESTER 3 Fall 2019
  4. SEMESTER 4 Winter 2020

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

Program of Study

Semester 1Credits
DSW 1024Group Dynamics and Advocacy 2
DSW 1026Field Seminar 2
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: 21
Semester 2
DSW 1022Field Work IIA 4
DSW 1210Community Employability Skills 3
DSW 1217Disabilities Strategies II 3
DSW 1115Positive Behavioral Supports I 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
Negotiation Labour Relations 3
Dementia 3
Positive Psychology 3
Human Sexuality 3
Intro to Indigenous Studies 3
Intro to Powwow Culture 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: Assessment Treatment 3
DSW 2316Adult Issues and Advocacy 3
DSW 2317Disability and Communication Systems 3
DSW 1218Positive Behavioral Supports II 3
One of the following General Education courses:  3
Personal Finance 3
Negotiation Labour Relations 3
Dementia 3
Positive Psychology 3
Human Sexuality 3
Intro to Indigenous Studies 3
Intro to Powwow Culture 3
 Term Credits: 24
Semester 4
DSW 2405Field Work III 7
DSW 2495Field Work IV 8
 Term Credits: 15
 Total Credits: 85


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 Field.

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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