Developmental Services Worker

Program: DSWR
Credential: Ontario College Diploma
Delivery: Full-time + Part-time
Work Integrated Learning: 2 Field Placements
Length: 4 Semesters
Duration: 2 Years
Effective: Fall 2024
Location: Orillia, Owen Sound


Students develop the knowledge and skills to support children, youth and adults who have a developmental disability in all aspects of life across the lifespan. Respecting an individual’s right to direct their life, students develop advocacy skills that promote self-determination and assist individuals in the development of skills that encourage independence, community engagement, and citizenship. 

In the counselling and apartment labs, students practice sign language, medication administration, health care skills, counselling supports, and use of assistive devices and technology. In collaboration with community partners, students plan and implement activities that promote inclusion and self-determination. Other areas of study include intellectual, physical and mental disabilities, autism and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, support options, health and well-being, social relationships, and teaching strategies. 

Students consolidate this learning in fourteen weeks of supervised field placements in their preferred geographical location.

Career Opportunities

Diverse opportunities within the field of developmental services are available in educational, community living, and day services organizations. Job titles include direct support professional, educational assistant, community support worker, community living counsellor, vocational coach, senior’s program counsellor, developmental services advocate, supported independent living counsellor, home care provider, life skills instructor, specialized care provider, employment coach, family support worker, and recreation inclusion counsellor.

Program Learning Outcomes 

The graduate has reliably demonstrated the ability to:

  1. conduct oneself in an ethical, competent and accountable manner in all professional relationships;
  2. provide person-directed supports and services that respect and promote self-determination for people with developmental disabilities;
  3. provide for the safety of people with developmental disabilities, self and others in compliance with all applicable legislation, regulations and standards of practice;
  4. support health and well-being of people with developmental disabilities;
  5. employ and adapt formal and informal strategies to support the learning of people with developmental disabilities;
  6. provide leadership in the development of inclusive communities;
  7. develop professional and personal plans that enhance job performance and well-being;
  8. apply basic entrepreneurial strategies to realize social, environmental and/or financial rewards;
  9. apply knowledge of cultures and traditions in the promotion of an inclusive community and in the planning and implementation of services and supports.

Program Progression

The following reflects the planned progression for full-time offerings of the program.

Fall Intake

  • Sem 1: Fall 2024
  • Sem 2: Winter 2025
  • Sem 3: Fall 2025
  • Sem 4: Winter 2026


A number of articulation agreements have been negotiated with universities and other institutions across Canada, North America and internationally. These agreements are assessed, revised and updated on a regular basis. Please contact the program co-ordinator for specific details if you are interested in pursuing such an option. Additional information can be found on our website at

Admission Requirements

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent or mature student status
  • Grade 12 English (C or U)

Mature students, non-secondary school applicants (19 years or older), and home school applicants may also be considered for admission. Eligibility may be met by applicants who have taken equivalent courses, upgrading, completed their GED, and equivalency testing. For complete details refer to:

Applicants who have taken courses from a recognized and accredited post-secondary institution and/or have relevant life/learning experience may also be considered for admission; refer to the Credit for Prior Learning website for details:

Criminal Reference/Vulnerable Sector Check

Placement agencies require an up-to-date clear criminal reference check and vulnerable sector check prior to going out on placement. Students should obtain their criminal reference three months prior to placement; checks conducted earlier may not be considered current. As some jurisdictions require longer lead-time for processing, please check with the program coordinator to ensure you allow for sufficient turn-around time. It is the student's responsibility to provide the completed document prior to placement start.

NOTE: A record of criminal offences, for which a pardon has not been granted, may prevent students from completing their placements, thereby affecting their ability to graduate.

Additional Information

Applicants must have an up-to-date immunization record, Standard First Aid and CPR level C or HCP certification before proceeding on field placement. It is recommended that First Aid training is completed prior to program entry.

Graduates of the Child and Youth Care, Early Childhood Education, Social Services Worker and Personal Support Worker programs may be eligible for Advanced Standing in the Developmental Services Worker program.

Graduation Requirements

19 Program Courses
2 Communications Courses
3 General Education Courses
2 Field Placements

Graduation Eligibility

To graduate from this program, the passing weighted average for promotion through each semester, from year to year, and to graduate is 60%. Additionally, a student must attain a minimum of 50% or a letter grade of P (Pass) or S (Satisfactory) in each course in each semester unless otherwise stated on the course outline.

Program Tracking 

The following reflects the planned course sequence for full-time offerings of the Fall intake of the program. Where more  than one intake is offered  contact the program co-ordinator for the program tracking.

Plan of Study Grid
Semester 1Hours
Program Courses  
DEVS 1009 Augmentative Communication 28
DEVS 1010 Teaching Strategies 42
DEVS 1011 Person-Directed Planning 42
DEVS 1019 Introduction to Developmental Services 42
DEVS 1020 Community Building and Active Living 42
HUMN 1016 Human Lifespan Development 42
Communications Course  
Select 1 course from the communications list during registration. 42
General Education Course  
Select 1 course from the general education list during registration. 42
Semester 2
Program Courses  
DEVS 1012 Body Systems and Disorders 42
DEVS 1013 Social Relationships 28
DEVS 1021 Developmental Disabilities 42
DEVS 2001 Intervention Strategies 42
DEVS 2016 Dual Diagnosis 42
HLTH 2000 Health Skills 42
Communications Course  
Select 1 course from the communications list during registration. 42
General Education Course  
Select 1 course from the general education list during registration. 42
Semester 3
Program Courses  
DEVS 2015 Supportive Counselling 42
DEVS 2019 Positive Behavioural Supports 42
DEVS 2027 Professional Practice and Field Preparation 42
DEVS 2028 Developmental Services: Issues and Trends 42
DEVS 2029 Gerontology in Developmental Services 28
DEVS 2032 Spectrum Disorders 42
HLTH 2005 Pharmacology and Medication Administration 42
General Education Course  
Select 1 course from the general education list during registration. 42
Semester 4
Field Placements  
DEVS 2030 Field Placement A 280
DEVS 2031 Field Placement B 280
 Total Hours1526

Graduation Window

Students unable to adhere to the program duration of two years (as stated above) may take a maximum of four years to complete their credential. After this time, students must be re-admitted into the program, and follow the curriculum in place at the time of re-admission.

Disclaimer: The information in this document is correct at the time of publication. Academic content of programs and courses is revised on an ongoing basis to ensure relevance to changing educational objectives and employment market needs. 

Program outlines may be subject to change in response to emerging situations, in order to facilitate student achievement of the learning outcomes required for graduation. Components such as courses, progression, coop work terms, placements, internships and other requirements may be delivered differently than published.

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