2014/15 Program

Developmental Services Worker

Our Program

The Humber Developmental Services Worker diploma program teaches students the skills to effectively promote the physical, mental and emotional health of individuals with special needs, leading to a rewarding and fulfilling career.

You are taught in small classes by developmental services experts who are active in the field. The curriculum is designed with industry input, ensuring courses are current and relevant. Begin with learning on the stages of human development, the types of developmental disabilities and the range of available community support services for this population. Next, learn intervention techniques, person-centered planning, abnormal psychology/dual diagnosis, basic pharmacology, supporting people with autism, augmentative forms of communication, and effective responses to people who have been abused. Finally, develop skills in building interpersonal relationships and counselling.

You will acquire a host of practical skills, including:

  • communicating with clients in sign language
  • safely administering medications
  • creating effective behavioural programming
  • assisting individuals with physical disabilities
  • helping those with special needs to integrate into the community.

Build your expertise in our counselling labs, which provide an ideal setting to develop abilities in working with individuals with limited verbal skills. Extensive work placements also give you valuable experience.

Note: Optional information sessions may be held throughout the year for applicants who wish to learn more about this program. For dates, call 416.675.6622 ext. 3484.

Your Career

Make a lasting difference in the lives of those with special needs and their families as a developmental services worker.

According to Statistics Canada, more than 60,000 Ontarians have a developmental disability. As a skilled and caring developmental services worker, you can help these people live, work and participate in their communities. Your deep understanding of developmental disabilities, skills in behavioural interventions and desire to help others will help you build a rewarding career in this field.

Graduates support people with intellectual disabilities, autism, physical challenges or other special needs. This can lead to a range of positions, including:

  • community support worker
  • educational/teaching assistant in a school
  • classroom assistant in a daycare centre
  • counsellor in a seniors’ program
  • residential counsellor.

Note: The learning outcomes of the Humber Educational Assistant Certificate program have been incorporated into the Developmental Services Worker program in recognition of the increasing role developmental services workers play in promoting learning, not only as educational assistants but also as community agency and family workers.

Work Placement

The Humber Developmental Services Worker program offers a rich diversity of innovative and traditional work practice/field placement opportunities. Students complete an average of 800 hours of field practice in three placements. Placements are in and around the Greater Toronto Area and can also be arranged in the student’s community.

After consulting with students regarding their interests and preferences, the school refers students to specific agencies for these unpaid work placements.

The first three-week placement takes place in the fall semester of year one. The second three-week placement occurs in the winter semester of year one. The third placement takes place during the winter semester of year two, for four days per week for 14 weeks.

Our Industry Partnerships

This program has partnerships with an extensive list of agencies that have contributed input on the curriculum and provided placement and/or employment opportunities for students/graduates.

These partners include the following: Addus; Bloorview MacMillan Centre; Brampton Caledon Community Living; Central West Specialized Developmental Services; Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; Christian Horizons; Community Living Burlington; Community Living Dufferin; Community Living Mississauga; Community Living Oakville; Community Living Toronto; Day Centres and Visiting Services for Seniors in Etobicoke; Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board; E.C. Drury School; Haney Centre; Harmony Place Support Services; Kerry’s Place; L’Arche; Mary Centre; META Centre; Montage Support Services; Muki Baum Treatment Centre; New Visions; Options; Peel and Halton Acquired Brain Injury Services; Peel District School Board; Reena; Rumball Centre for the Deaf; Safehaven Project for Community Living; The Salvation Army Broadview Village; Storefront Humber; Surex Community Services; Toronto Catholic District School Board; Toronto District School Board; Vita Community Living Services; and York South Association for Community Living.

This program’s advisory committee is comprised of people with extensive experience in the developmental services work profession, representing a variety of settings where developmental services workers are employed. Many are also members of the Ontario Association on Developmental Disabilities (OADD).

Professional Accreditation, Endorsement and Recognition

This diploma is the one most frequently recognized by employers as qualifying individuals to work with people of all ages who have disabilities such as autism, intellectual handicaps, physical disabilities and dual diagnosis. Graduates may apply to become members of the Ontario Association on Developmental Disabilities (OADD). Visit oadd.org and its Developmental Services Special Interest Group (DSSIG).

Your Future Study Options

Graduates may be eligible to apply their academic credits toward further study at many postsecondary institutions. For more information, visit humber.ca/transferguide.

Developmental Services Worker program graduates may qualify for exemption from PSYC1600 Child Development in our Bachelor of Child and Youth Care degree program 22231.

Admission Requirements
  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent, or mature student status
  • Grade 12 English (ENG4C or ENG4U). If English is not your first language, refer to the English Language Proficiency Policy
  • Three Grade 11 or Grade 12C, U or M courses in addition to those listed above
  • Applicants who do not possess the required courses may complete admission testing to determine equivalencies. Invitation and booking of admission testing is done using the email address provided on the online application
  • Written documentation from employers of at least 60 hours of secondary school co-op, volunteer or paid work experience, preferably with people who have developmental disabilities. Experience in other social service areas will be considered. The letter of reference should comment on your performance during your work experience. You can provide more than one letter of reference if applicable
  • Completion of a written questionnaire
  • Completion of an English writing sample (topic assigned at session), which will be assessed for English proficiency. Applicants living 200 kilometres or more from the Greater Toronto Area may make alternative arrangements to do the English writing sample
  • Attendance at an orientation session

Note: For more information, refer to Selection Procedures.

Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to the program.

Additional Requirements

Note: These additional requirements are not Developmental Services Worker program admission requirements. However, they will be required when applying to prospective placements during the program.

The following requirements must be completed before field placement can begin:

  • Medical Certificate of Health
  • valid HeartSaver Automated External Defibrillator (AED) (C) and Standard First Aid certificates
  • employers who provide field placement opportunities require students to undergo a police record check for criminal offences. It is important for potential students to understand that the requirements noted above are beyond the control of Humber and may prevent students from completing the full program, including the field placement component, and/or securing employment. Applicants are advised to check the requirements for specific positions in which they are interested before enrolling in this program.

     Note: A police record check will be requested during your program of study. In respect of the 90-day limit on the validity of record checks and the type of checks required by the various agencies, please do not attain a police record check prior to being accepted to the program. Faculty will support students upon arrival to the program to ensure they apply for the correct type of police documentation at the appropriate time.


The 2014/2015 fee for two semesters is
• domestic $3,644.56
• international $13,900.
Amounts listed are the total of tuition, lab and material fees, student service and auxiliary fees for the first two semesters of the 2014/2015 academic year.
Fees are subject to change. For more information, refer to Fees and Financial Assistance.

Additional Costs

$800 – textbooks (over four semesters); costs vary for transportation for field placement, field trips, and crisis intervention training.

Alternative Course of Study

Humber also offers the Developmental Services Worker – Accelerated postgraduate diploma program 10401 and the Developmental Services Worker Apprenticeship certificate program 06411.

The Developmental Services Worker diploma program is also offered on a part-time basis, through continuing education courses in the evening.


Semester 1

Course Code Course Name
WRIT 100 College Reading and Writing Skills
DSW 100 Understanding Human Behaviour
DSW 101 Introduction to Developmental Disabilities 1
DSW 107 Community Orientation
DSW 103 Field Practice 1
DSW 104 Human Growth and Development
DSW 105 Developing Interpersonal Skills
DSW 106 Intervention Techniques 1

Semester 2

Course Code Course Name
DSW 152 Person-Centred Planning
DSW 153 Educational Strategies
DSW 154 Responding to Abuse
DSW 156 Field Practice 2
DSW 158 Introduction to Developmental Disabilities 2
DSW 159 Abnormal Psychology/Dual Diagnosis
DSW 157 Health and Wellness 1
DSW 163 Professionalism in Developmental Services

Semester 3

Course Code Course Name
WRIT 200 Workplace Writing Skills
DSW 201 Community Building
DSW 206 Human Sexuality
DSW 205 Basic Pharmacology 1
DSW 202 Counselling Skills
DSW 203 Sign Language and Augmentative Communication
DSW 213 Intervention Techniques 2
DSW 204 Autism and Other Complex Needs
GNED 101 An Introduction to Arts and Sciences

Semester 4

Course Code Course Name
DSW 253 Basic Pharmacology 2
DSW 251 Health and Wellness 2
DSW 255 Integrative Seminar
DSW 252 Home and Community Practicum
DSW 256 Education/Employment Support Practicum
DSW 254 Life Skills/Seniors Practicum