The origins of the Developmental Services Resource Centre Waterloo Region (DSRC Waterloo Region) actually lie in the roots of its predecessor programs. Community Resource Services was conceived as an idea at Sunbeam Centre in 1983 and initiated as a program in February 1984. The agency grew rapidly during the latter half of the 1980s and early 1990s. This community outreach team focused primarily on clinical consultation supports including psychological assessment, social work, behaviour consultation, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech and language consultation. Over time, the number of disciplines represented grew to include health care consultation and dual diagnosis/support cluster facilitation. In addition to serving the people of Waterloo Region, the agency maintained a Guelph/Wellington office where similar services could be offered.
During the 1970s, the Government of Ontario began the funding of Adult and Family Support Programs across the province. Adult Protective Service Workers (APSWs) served an important case management and advocacy role for consumers who lived on their own or with their families. Participation in a number of strategic planning groups, including the Developmental Services Planning and Advisory Council for Waterloo Region and a provincial network of APSWs also took place. Within our region, agencies like K-W Counselling Services, the Elmira and District Association for Community Living, and the Family Service Bureau of Cambridge/North Dumfries developed strong reputations for the APSW programs they developed.
Concurrent to the growth of APSW programs, Family Support Programs also became more commonplace in the 1970s. Locally, K-W Habilitation Services hosted a pilot project that established parameters for the roles of Family Support Workers (FSWs). Advocacy – both personal and on a systems’ level, and case coordination support became hallmarks of these programs. In our region, K-W Habilitation Services, the Cambridge Association for the Mentally Handicapped, and the Elmira and District Association for Community Living implemented the highly regarded Family Support Programs that would later transfer to DSRC.
In 1997, the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services consulted varied stakeholders about issues facing local developmental services. This initiative, Making Services Work for People, resulted in a number of changes within local service delivery. The most significant was the creation of a single point of access for developmental services within the region. At approximately the same time, CRS services in Guelph/Wellington were formally transferred to the Community Mental Health Clinic in Guelph. Sunbeam proposed that CRS serve as the Single Access Model for the region, and the Ministry adopted this proposal in 1999.
As a result, in April 2000, the Developmental Services Access Centre – Waterloo Region (DSAC) formally commenced operation. Since that time, work has continued on the implementation of the Making Services Work for People model including the services listed above and a centralized intake function.
In 2004, an organizational review conducted by Nancy Draper Consulting outlined a number of recommendations, subsequently adopted by Sunbeam’s Board of Directors. The organization realigned its practices based upon these recommendations, including a redefining of intake/”resource” supports, alignment of support functions with service coordination practices, and a clearer defining of clinical supports that could be made more accessible to the community.
In 2006, The Government of Ontario announced a “Transformation” of developmental services within the province. In 2008, the Supports and Services to Support the Social Inclusions of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act was passed, outlining how developmental services for adults will be accessed and provided in the future. In 2011, Sunbeam/DSAC became the Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) for Central West Region. It was originally housed with DSAC. However, it was later determined that it was to be housed separately from DSAC given it was the central point of access for adult services. It was decided in July 2011 that DSAC would now become Developmental Services Resource Centre Waterloo Region (DSRC Waterloo Region) as it was no longer a single point access for adult services. While it continued to provide clinical and service coordination services, it no longer housed adult residential or employment wait lists.
In the fall of 2011, DSRC was successful in partnering with Kerry’s Place Autism Services in providing Applied Behaviour Analysis Services to children with an autism spectrum disorder between the ages of 9-17 years living in Waterloo Region. In 2017 this program was re-named Ontario Autism Program (OAP) by MCYS. This service was expanded to include family support workers beginning in March 2018.
In the fall of 2017, DSRC became the host agency for Coordinated Service Planning and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Coordinator through Special Needs Strategy.