School Health Support Services (SHSS) have been provided to children and youth in publicly-funded schools since 1984. In September 2000, those services were finally extended to those who are in independent schools or homeschooling.
SHSS include nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and dietetics. They also include personal support services such as personal hygiene activities and routine personal activities of living, provided to students who are in private schools or homeschooling. There is no charge to families for these services, which are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) under the Home Care and Community Services Act. See the related Regulation 386/99 – Provision of Community Services for the eligibility criteria and other details.
SHSS are administered through the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). Anyone can make a referral – an individual requiring service, a family member, caregiver, friend, physician or other health care professional. The LHIN assesses the child for eligibility and determines the type and level of service required, then flows funds to a local agency and verifies that the funding was used for approved services.
The extension of SHSS to homeschoolers in 2000 was reported to OFTP members in our newsletter, Home Rules:
- Extended School Health Services for Homeschoolers – initial announcement August 2000
- Extended School Health Services for Homeschoolers – report of problems December 2000
- School Health Support Services Phase 2 – April 2001
- Good News!! School Health Support Services Update – August 2001
In applying for SHSS as a homeschooler, you may be asked for a letter from the school board. What that is, is a letter acknowledging receipt of the letter of intent to homeschool that you’re supposed to send the school board when you withdraw your child from school attendance or enrollment.
If you haven’t yet withdrawn your child from the school system, you can edit the default letter of intent to add an explicit request for a written reply, letting the school board know you need it to access other government services.
If you’ve already withdrawn your child and sent a letter of intent and you haven’t yet received a reply, you can either get back in touch with them to request it more explicitly (letting them know you need it for other government services), or you can apply for the SHSS without a letter from the school board.
If you can’t get the school board to reply, or if you don’t send a letter of intent (which you don’t have to do if your child has never attended or been enrolled to attend school), you should still be able to get the SHSS as a homeschooler. While the SHSS administrator may request a letter from the school board, it is not strictly speaking a requirement. There is no mention of it in any Act or Regulation as an eligibility criterion or in any other way. Several homeschooling parents have insisted on their right to access the health services, sometimes going up the chain of command to speak to someone with more authority than just the person processing the request, and have ultimately been granted access to the health services without a letter from the school board.