Autism Workforce Capacity Project – Service Innovation Stream

What is the Workforce Capacity Project?

The Workforce Capacity Project is a collaborative project between the McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) Autism Program, CanChild and several academic programs training the next generation of health care providers (including the School of Rehabilitation Sciences – Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology Programs). The aim of the project is to address or grow the therapy workforce to address the service needs for autistic children in the McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) Autism Program. Initially designed to meet rising service demands and enhance the provision of French services, the Workforce Capacity Project has evolved to also increase workforce expertise by way of increasing clinical placements for trainees at MCH, as well as involving CanChild to host interprofessional workshops for clinical trainees and their preceptors to learn about innovative research to apply on their clinical placements and evaluate these educational outcomes.

The Workforce Capacity Project was first funded from 2021 to 2022 with participating trainees across disciplines engaged in placements within the MCH Autism Program involved in training workshops hosted by CanChild’s Drs. Bob Palisano and Briano Di Rezze. The workshops described the application of the Life Course Health Development model, and functional classification systems in autism services. In this iteration, MCH Autism Program staff were also provided French-language training. The project was funded a second time in 2022-2023 with minor adjustments will include expanding the number of student placements, as well as training workshops based on the F-words framework, and the development of an evaluation of the workshops. This work is currently being analyzed while the team awaits work of continued funding for 2023-2024.

The goals of the Workforce Capacity Project:

  • Build capacity in the workforce for therapists to improve the landscape of service providers to enable services for autistic children on the OAP waitlist, and
  • Increase access to French-language services.

The goals of the Workforce Capacity Project as they relate to CanChild:

  • Create more interprofessional training opportunities for trainees in occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, behaviour therapy, and clinical psychology disciplines – learning together in preparation for practice together in future paediatric care;
  • Educate clinicians and trainees about innovative models and tools being developed at CanChild to improve the lives of autistic children and their families; and
  • Evaluate interprofessional training workshops in autism.

Research Timeline

2021: Project funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services Workforce Capacity Fund

2022: Implementation of Life Course Health Development model and Functional Classification Workshops

2022-2023: Project funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services Workforce Capacity Fund

2024: Implementation and evaluation of workshops based on the F-words framework