ODSP and homeschooling

Information for homeschooling families receiving government assistance from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and for ODSP recipients wishing to educate their children at home.

Parents with disabilities - eligibility of home-educated dependent children to be included in the benefit unit

Yes, parents with disabilities who are on Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Income Support can homeschool their children. Although the recipient (the parent with the disability) is not expected to have any other source of income, the able-bodied spouse is expected to be employed or self-employed (or to be seeking employment or receiving training) if there are no children under age 6, and will otherwise be referred to Ontario Works.

The Ontario Disability Support Program Act 1997 and its Regulations do not address the issue of school attendance of a recipient's dependent children. Directive 2.2, Who Is Eligible: Dependent Children used to address schooling and home schooling more specifically, but no longer does. Instead, it states that,

"Children under 18 who live with their parents, and meet the definition of dependent child, are included as part of the ODSP benefit unit."

A dependent child is defined as follows:

"A child is considered a dependent child if:

  • he/she is under the age of 18;
  • he/she resides with a parent who is an applicant/recipient or the applicant/recipient’s spouse;
  • the parent in the benefit unit:
    • receives the Canada Child Benefit on behalf of the child or is eligible to receive it; or
    • is responsible for the primary care and control or shares custody of the child as determined by the Director."

If your case-worker is not up-to-date on the policy directives, they may believe that they're still required to obtain proof of the legitimacy of your homeschooling, through a letter of acknowledgement from the school board in response to a letter of intent from you. You can refer them to Policy Directive 2.2 and point out that issues of school attendance are no longer involved in determining the eligibility of dependent children to be included in the benefit unit. If they insist and remove your child from the calculations, you can ask for an internal review, followed, if necessary, by an appeal.

Either way, your child's removal from the calculations does not mean you cannot homeschool, nor does it affect your own eligibility for ODSP benefits.

Parents with disabilities - eligibility of dependent adults (children 18 or older) to be included in the benefit unit

Directive 2.1: Who is eligible: Dependent Adults states the following:

"A person is a dependent adult if he/she:

  • is 18 years of age or older;
  • resides with his/her parent(s) who is an ODSP applicant/recipient or the applicant/recipient’s spouse;
  • has not established financial independence; and
  • has not been determined to be eligible as a person with a disability or a member of a prescribed class in his/her own right.

A dependent adult is required to comply with participation requirements under Ontario Works. If a dependent adult fails to comply with participation requirements, ODSP income support shall be reduced."

Full text of the ODSP Act, Regulations and Policy Directives

Ministry websites