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Ontario College Diploma | 4 semesters | Barrydowne

As a Developmental Services Professional and / or Educational Assistant, students are embarking on a rewarding career supporting children and adults experiencing life with physical, 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 physical, 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 physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities.

In class 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.

Students will acquire the following skills from this program:

  • Communication using alternate communication systems: sign language, braille, and a picture exchange communication system
  • Knowledge of medications and basic nursing care
  • Advocacy for supports and services in community and educational settings
  • Development of effective informal and formal person centered plans and individual education plans
  • Development 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 physical, 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

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

  • Community guest speakers from the Developmental Services Sector and Education Sector

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

  • Certifications in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention and Prevention, Mental Health First Aid, and Inter-professional Collaboration

  • 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 Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) Process and/or Advanced Standing for students have related work experience or a related diploma/degree


Students who meet the requirements, will have the opportunity to complete a community placement.  Students will be responsible for any expenses incurred related to placement, such as Paramed consultation, transportation, meals and accommodations.

Agencies will require students to have additional medical and non-medical documents prior to the completion of any community based placement.  Paramed will be responsible for the coordination of the required documentation in consultation with the students.

Required documentation includes:

  • Criminal Records Check - Vulnerable Sector Screening
  • Health documentation (up-to-date immunization, Two-step TB test, freedom for communicable disease)
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Non-violent Crisis intervention
  • Field certifications - Bill 18 requirements

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)

  • A valid G - Driver's License

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

Additional Requirements

  • Consultation with Paramed for medical and non-medical Field Placement requirements
  • Ability to participate in Non-violent Crisis Intervention and Prevention Training
  • Non-violent Crisis Intervention Certification prior to the last semester placement
  • An up-to-date criminal record check - vulnerable sector screening is required prior to all field placements. Agencies, Organizations, and School Boards 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 if requested specific to the Agencies, Organizations, and School Boards 
  • Industry certifications - Bill 18 requirements


Program Delivery


This program will be delivered in the following terms:

Fall Term Start

  1. SEMESTER 1 Fall 2020
  2. SEMESTER 2 Winter 2021
  3. SEMESTER 3 Fall 2021
  4. SEMESTER 4 Winter 2022

Winter Term Start

  1. SEMESTER 1 Winter 2021
  2. SEMESTER 2 Spring 2021
  3. SEMESTER 3 Fall 2021
  4. SEMESTER 4 Winter 2022

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 General Education course. 1 3
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
ENG 1242 Speaking/Writing Comm. Services I 3
HSC 1236 Basic Nursing Skills II 3
One General Education course. 1 3
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 General Education course. 1 3
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. In addition, students will be required to purchase an annual membership with Conversations That Matter, an Online Conferencing Centre, an Online ABA – Level 1 Certification Training Course, an Online Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Course, and other Professional Development certifications.

Graduate Options

Employment Opportunities

Developmental Services Worker graduates make a difference in the lives of children and adults experiencing life with physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities and their families. As a skilled and caring Developmental Services Professional, you can support individuals living life with a physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities to live, work, play, and participate in their communities as valued citizens. As a Developmental Services Worker graduate, you can also make a difference as an Educational Assistant in the classroom. You will acquire the knowledge and skills required 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 comprehensive understanding of physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities, knowledge of teaching and training strategies, skills in the area of positive behaviour supports and individual education plans, and the desire to help others will help you build a rewarding career in the Developmental Services Sector and Education Sector.

Developmental Services Worker graduates support children and adults living life with physical, 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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