The provincial policy for Mental Health Services as well
as its legislative framework calls for the active involvement of consumers
and their families in the recovery process. An important component of
such a process is the availability and accessibility to social support,
self-help, public education, recreational and community inclusion activities.
Community centres for persons with autism provide an opportunity for individuals
with autism and their families to access such support.
The purpose of population-based services includes reducing
the frequency and severity of symptoms and encouraging healthy living
skill sets in children. Population-based services are often best directed
early in child development and within natural settings therefore promoting
naturally occurring supportive relationships.
This document describes the fundamental values under which
community-based proposals should operate, defines broadly the objectives
sought to achieve and provides operational guidelines.
A review of the literature related to best-practice models
suggests that successful models should be family-centred, collaborative,
and community-based. They should also be team-oriented and demonstrate
such characteristics as having clearly-defined missions and philosophies,
being accessible, using comprehensive yet versatile approaches and being
adaptable for replication.
These values are made evident when:
- Centres have parent- and consumer-driven involvement
- Centres are community- and volunteer-based and community-led.
- Centres have a linked network of partnerships with a
broad array of stakeholder involvement and experience both in formulating
and in guiding the centres.
- Centres build on existing community resources and enhance
community capacity for integrated resource availability.
- Centres are a key component of a support network.
- Centres complement and enhance the formal service delivery
Centres should aim at achieving the following objectives:
- Provide a place where people can meet to exchange ideas
and information and develop a sense of belonging.
- Provide families, children and youth with opportunities
to participate in meaningful activities, which contribute to increasing
their well-being, self-esteem and social functioning.
- Foster community integration and inclusion.
- Assist families to gain access to community-based resources.
- Educate the public and the formal service delivery system
about Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Centres operate as independent entities with their respective
boards and structure accountable for decisions. The following criteria
must be respected when applying for project funding from the Mental Health
- Wherever the centre is located, it should be the least
restrictive and most natural environment for the child, youth and family.
- Models should be family-oriented and responsive to families'
- Family values should guide the practices of the centres
and each child's and family's intervention should be individualized
and developmentally appropriate. The practices must be validated by
- Boards should be made up of various community stakeholders
including professionals, families and where possible, users of the service.
- Centres will provide the Mental Health Services Division
with a report on annual expenditures, as well as a description of program
and project outcomes.
- A purchase-of-service contract must be signed between
the centre and the Mental Health Services Division.
- Centres should be open to all community members wishing
- Centres must make a conscious decision to be broad-based
and eclectic in what they provide as information related to autism,
i.e. centres do not promote one specific intervention over others but
rather provide information and resources regarding a broad array of
options from which families may choose.
An organization that wishes to present a funding request
to Mental Health Services is asked to do so in the following manner.
- Proposals should be submitted for community program
initiatives to the Mental Health Services Division. The purpose and
objectives of a proposal should be consistent with the criteria for
community centres for persons with Autism Spectrum disorder and their
- Proposals for funding may be submitted at any time throughout
the year and must not exceed a request of $30,000.
- A clear description of the program, the target group,
the expected impact and results, and any other data in support of the
request is required for funding.
- Proposals should be addressed to: Department of Health
and Wellness, Mental Health Services Division.
- Within two weeks of a request being received, a letter
acknowledging receipt will be sent to the centre submitting the request.
- Each request will be reviewed with feedback to the centre
submitting the request within two months of its date of receipt.