Ontario College Diploma | 4 semesters | Barrydowne Campus

As a Developmental Services Professional, students are embarking on a rewarding career supporting children and adults experiencing life with physical disabilities, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and dual diagnosis. Students will learn how to effectively use a person centered approach and positive behaviour supports to support behavioural, emotional, mental, physical, and social needs. Students will also learn about the stages of human development, spectrum of disabilities, modes of communication, basic nursing skills, medication administration competencies, and the range of community supports.

In addition, students will learn the value of working within legislative frameworks as it relates to positive behaviour supports, person centered supports, educational supports, crisis management, and the constructing of a safe, respectful, and quality life. Students will develop advocacy skills through relationship building and the critical thinking skills required to support individuals who live life with physical disabilities, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and dual diagnosis.

Learning will be complemented by extensive hands-on experience gained through Field Placement opportunities, beginning with a Field Placement block in semester two and continuing with placements in semesters three and four.

The Developmental Services Worker Program allows students the flexibility and choice to attend scheduled in-person classes, virtual classes in real time, and/or watch video lecture captures at a time that is convenient for them. Students can move seamlessly between the delivery methods; attend scheduled in-person classes, virtual classes in real time, and/or watch video lecture captures. All course evaluations, tests, assignments, projects, etc. can be completed on Cambrian's Learning Management System, Moodle.

Students will acquire the following skills from this program:

  • Communication skills using alternate modes of communication: sign language, braille, and a picture exchange communication system
  • Professional competencies and the development of core and threshold competencies
  • Development of formal and informal person and student centered plans
  • Development of positive behaviour supports and instructional strategies
  • Understanding and supporting individuals across the diverse spectrum of disabilities
  • Advocacy for independence, self-determination, inclusion, belonging, and citizenship
  • Development of competencies to work collaboratively with inter-professional teams, families, and community professionals
  • Knowledge of medications, medication administration, and basic nursing skills
  • Facilitation of employment opportunities and entrepreneurship

Program Highlights

  • 2 years - 4 semesters
  • Offers a Fall and Winter term start date
  • Flexible schedule, students can move seamlessly between delivery methods; attend scheduled in-person classes, virtual classes in real time, and/or watch video lecture captures at a time convenient for them. 
  • Field placement opportunities in semesters two, three, and four coordinated by the Placement Coordinator in collaboration with the student, in or near their home community
  • Opportunities for summer and/or part-time employment with agencies in the Developmental Services Sector
  • Faculty with diverse experience and expertise across the curriculum
  • Community guest speakers with diverse experience and expertise in their profession
  • Opportunities to obtain industry certifications
  • Opportunities for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) for students who have related work experience or a related diploma/degree
  • Students who have related work experience or a related diploma/degree may receive approval for Advanced Standing. Students who receive approval may complete their credential in a shorter amount of time.
  • Program is mapped to Cambrian's Early Childhood Education, Child and Youth Care, and Social Service Worker Programs to provide student two diplomas in three years


Students who meet the requirements, will have the opportunity to complete three Placements. 

Required documentation for Placement includes:

  • Criminal Records Check - Vulnerable Sector Screening
  • Health documentation (up-to-date immunization, Two-Step TB test, freedom for communicable diseases
  • Standard First Aid and CPR - Level C
  • Industry certifications
  • Co-op permits for placement in semesters two, three, and four for international students

Please Note:

  • Students will be responsible for any expenses incurred related to placement, such as consultations with Paramed, co-op permits for non-permanent residents, medical fees for service, transportation, meals, and accommodations.
  • Agencies and schools may require students to have additional medical and non-medical documentation prior to accepting placements. 
  • Students will be responsible for the provision of required documentation for placement in consultation with Paramed.


  • Valid G license is recommended for employment in the Developmental Services Sector. 

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) or (U)


  • Computer competency in relevant software
  • Any grade 11 mathematics (C), (U) or (M)
  • Any grade 11 biology (C) or (U) or grade 12 biology (U)

Additional Requirements

  • Ability to support individuals living life with disabilities in all aspects of daily living such as lifting and transfers.


Program Delivery


This program will be delivered in the following terms:

Fall Term Start

  1. SEMESTER 1 Fall 2023
  2. SEMESTER 2 Winter 2024
  3. SEMESTER 3 Fall 2024
  4. SEMESTER 4 Winter 2025

Winter Term Start

  1. SEMESTER 1 Winter 2024
  2. SEMESTER 2 Spring 2024
  3. SEMESTER 3 Fall 2024
  4. SEMESTER 4 Winter 2025

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

Program of Study for 2023-24 Academic Year 

Plan of Study Grid
Semester 1Credits
DSW 1026 Field Seminar 2
DSW 1027 Self Care Skills 2
DSW 1117 Disabilities Strategies I 3
DSW 1125 Understanding Disabilities 2
PSY 1135 Issues in Developmental Psychology 3
HSC 1136 Basic Nursing Skills 3
ENG 1002 College Communications 3
One General Education course. 1 3
Semester 2
DSW 1022 Field Work IIA 4
DSW 1210 Community Employability Skills 3
DSW 1221 Person Centered Planning and Advocacy 3
DSW 1222 Positive Behaviour Supports 4
HSC 1236 Basic Nursing Skills II 3
ENG 1242 Speaking/Writing Comm. Services I 3
One General Education course. 1 3
Semester 3
DSW 1021 Pharmacology for Developmental Services Worker 2
DSW 1023 Field Work IIB 4
DSW 1217 Disabilities Strategies II 3
DSW 1225 Crisis Management and Prevention 3
DSW 1230 Autism Spectrum Disorders 3
DSW 2310 Dual Diagnosis: Assessment & Treatment 3
DSW 2317 Disability and Communication Systems 3
One General Education course. 1 3
Semester 4
DSW 1028 Fieldwork III 14
 Total Credits82

For more information regarding General Education courses, click here.


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 is approximately $2,000 per year for the Program. This is the best information available at the time of publishing to the website and is subject to change. 

Graduate Options

Employment Opportunities

Graduates of the Developmental Services Worker Program make a difference in the lives of individuals living life with physical disabilities, developmental and intellectual disabilities, dual diagnosis, and their families. As a skilled and caring Developmental Services Professional, you can support individuals to live, work, play, and participate in their communities as valued citizens. As a graduate of the Developmental Services Worker Program, you can also make a difference in a variety of classrooms. You will acquire the knowledge and skills to work effectively as a support staff in elementary and secondary school classrooms, to assist teachers and other classroom staff in implementing academic studies and education plans. Your understanding of a diverse spectrum of disabilities, professional competencies, communication skills, person and student centered planning, positive behaviour supports, instructional strategies, and your passion to support others will empower you to build a rewarding career.

Graduates of the Developmental Services Worker Program support children and adults living life with disabilities. 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 / Day Support Professional

Furthering Your Studies

Graduates of this program can further increase their skills and expand their options for employment by enrolling in:

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.