In 1997, the Ministry of Community and Social Services released a policy called Making Services Work for People. This policy was created because the Ministry kept hearing from people and families that finding help for themselves or their family members was very difficult and confusing and that they didn’t know who to call. Another big issue that people and their families identified was feeling stressed and frustrated by having to repeat their personal stories multiple times before someone could help them. Making Services Work for People directed communities to find solutions to these problems so that the system could be improved.
In 1999, after a community process, Contact Hamilton was created to make it easier for people living in Hamilton to get the information and services they needed. On June 1 2000, Contact Hamilton “opened its doors” and became the agency that people called if they wanted information about or access to the following Hamilton-based services:
- Services for children and youth with social, emotional, behavioural, psychiatric issues or concerns
- Services for children and youth with developmental concerns including autism
- Services for adults with developmental disabilities.
In 2008, the Ministry of Community and Social Services passed a new Act called the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act. This marked the beginning of transformation in the adult developmental services sector. Among other things, this new act introduced the following:
- The creation of single point of access agencies across the nine regions of the province (now called Developmental Service Ontario [DSO])
- A standardized application process – no matter where you live in the province of Ontario, the process of applying for services and supports should be the same
- The creation of quality assurance measures and standards to improve the quality of service experienced by people with developmental disabilities
- The option for direct funding – greater control is given to people to purchase services where they like and to develop their own model of service that is unique and reflective of their needs/wants.
In 2010, following an “expression of interest” process, Contact Hamilton was declared as one of the nine DSOs in the province – the DSO for the Hamilton-Niagara Region. Among other things, what this meant for Contact Hamilton was an expansion of their mandate for adult developmental services from Hamilton to now including the communities within the Hamilton-Niagara region: Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk, Hamilton, Niagara, Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. On July 1st 2011, the DSO HNR “opened its doors”.
Access to children’s services continues through the Children’s Services division of Contact Hamilton and remains focused on Hamilton citizens.
In April 2012, Contact Hamilton was identified as the Designated Passport Agency for the administration of the Passport Funding program for the communities of Hamilton, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk, Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Previous to this Contact Hamilton was the Designated Passport Agency for the city of Hamilton.