Hire and manage service providers
Parents are responsible for hiring and managing service providers. This is complicated, so feel free to contact an Autism Support Specialist who can guide you through the process. You can also speak to them if you have a complaint about a service provider on the Registry of Service Providers (RASP). They can provide guidance at any level: AutismInformation@gov.bc.ca | 1 844 878-4700.
Options for hiring service providers
1. Hire a self-employed contractor (most parents choose this option). Self-employed service providers deliver services at home or at a centre. They contract their services to clients and are responsible for their own employment-related costs.
2. Hire an agency. Agencies have professional and non-professional staff who deliver services at home or at a centre. They use contracts to manage working with clients and they're responsible for their own employment-related costs.
3. Hire an employee. If you choose to hire an employee, you need to:
- Make sure the service provider is at least 19 years old and has a clear/current criminal record check
- Follow employment standards
- Meet WorkSafeBC requirements
- Make deductions to pay income tax, Canada Pension Plan or Employment Insurance benefits
Once you decide who to hire, you can set-up your autism funding to pay for their services.
Don't rush into choosing service providers
Find out what each person on your child’s team will be doing, how much time they will spend with you and your child, and what they charge for their services. It's best to meet with service providers to find out if they will be a good fit. Consider things like:
- What fees do they charge? Are there fees for travel?
- What are their cancellation policies?
- Are their services qualified for autism funding?
- Will they provide services in your home or at a centre?
- What approach do they plan to use and why?
- How much time will be spent one-on-one your child?
- Will they include you and your family in their services – for example will they help you implement new strategies at home and in everyday life?
Have an agreement in writing
Parents should have a written agreement or contract with all service providers. Don't ever sign a blank contract form. A proper contract should include:
- A description of services and how much they will cost (e.g. hourly rates, fee to complete forms)
- Timelines and hours required and where the service will take place
- A statement about confidentiality and release of personal information (e.g. how your child's information will be stored and returned to you at the end of service)
- A statement that rates and hours can’t be changed without your written consent
- What happens if sessions are cancelled
- Service start and end dates that match up with your child’s autism funding period
- Terms for ending service
- Parental obligations and responsibilities
Make sure the service provides value and quality for cost
There's a range to what service providers can charge. Find the right fit by talking with service providers before choosing one that works best for your family.
Check with professional associations that govern different service providers to find out what rates are reasonable and what type of service they're expected to provide.
Consider the priorities and needs for your child, then ask potential service providers:
- Is there research that shows this intervention is effective?
- How will this intervention help my child?
- How will my child’s progress be measured?
- How will the program be adjusted according to my child’s progress?
See if the service provider's approach is based on best practices – there's research or evidence that proves the strategies they're using are effective. Here are some things to look for:
- Development of a behaviour plan of intervention that emphasizes academics, communication, social/play skills, emotional/self regulation, motor/sensory functioning, independence/life skills
- Intensive one-to-one (at least initially) intervention at home, in preschool/school and in a variety of community settings on a year-round basis
- Programs that are developed by well-trained professionals
- Plans that are regularly monitored, evaluated and adjusted according to your child's development
- Use of materials or activities that motivate your child specifically to increase their engagement
- Promoting learning by using visual supports and managing environmental factors
- Parents, family members and caregivers are encouraged to be involved and receive training or coaching so that they can provide support as much as possible
- Use of a predictable routine
- Use of highly supportive, structured teaching methods that are based on the principles of applied behaviour analysis
- Intervention should take place in both structured settings and more natural environments
- Problem behaviours should be addressed with positive behaviour support (PBS) strategies
- A variety of professionals should collaborate with the family
- Planned opportunities to interact with typically-developing peers who are the same age
- Deliberate planning for times of transition like preschool to kindergarten or high school to adulthood
- For youth, there should be planned opportunities to develop skills to improve quality of life (e.g., employment; recreation; hobbies; social networks; etc.)
- Behaviour Interventionists must receive ongoing supervision and training by qualified professionals
The professionals on your team will work with you to develop a behaviour plan of intervention (BPI) for your child, based on their unique strengths and needs. The BPI is like a road map that outlines "where your child is now" and sets goals for "where we want to go." For children under 6, a BPI is required.
The plan will focus on:
- Areas where your child needs the most support – for example, communication, behaviour, social-emotional, academic or functional life skills
- The strategies (or interventions) for reaching those goals
- The process for regular review to measure progress and update goals
Parents can ask for updates on the behaviour plan of intervention at any time.
Behaviour interventionists will use the strategies outlined in the plan to help your child achieve their goals.
A behaviour plan of intervention (BPI) should:
- Be completed within the framework of best practices
- Be based on a developmental curriculum that includes identifying global goals for all areas of development
- Identify specific goals within the global goals
- Include input from professionals on the team
- Identify teaching strategies or methods to be used to achieve each goal
- Use ongoing data collection to measure progress and make adjustments
- Use a functional approach to challenging behaviour
- Identify team members and responsibilities
- List dates for regular review and updating of the plan
- Include strategies for generalization and maintenance of acquired skills across different environments
Manage service delivery
Make sure you know what your service providers are billing for and what rates they charge. It's important to make sure that you're getting value for the money you spend on each service.
If you're not satisfied with the service being provided, you can:
- Talk to your service provider – try having a meeting or a phone call, or sending an email or a letter
- Contact the professional association that governs their practice
If you have a complaint about a service provider on the RASP, please contact an Autism Support Specialist toll free at 1 844 878-4700 to find out how to initiate a complaint.