DSO Information

Brief History of Developmental Services

Developmental services and supports have changed a lot over the years. We used to have institutions where people with developmental disabilities could live. The first Ontario institution of this kind was opened in 1876, and by 1960 more than 10,000 people with developmental disabilities were living in similar places.

But after the 1960s, attitudes began to change. Families dreamed of a better life for their children. They created programs in their own towns and cities. People with developmental disabilities began to speak out for their right to participate in their communities.

The Government of Ontario began to fund more services and supports in the community. Many of these services were started by family members who worked with agencies to run the programs. Today, the Government of Ontario spends more than one billion dollars each year on community-based services and supports for people with developmental disabilities. These include residential supports, activities of daily living services, respite services, community participation supports (like recreation, volunteering or employment), professional and specialized services, person-directed planning, and other supports to help people with developmental disabilities become more involved in their communities!