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Diploma in Developmental Services Worker (DSWP) Cambrian College




COVID-19 update: This course will start online and continue on campus later. Read more

Course info


As a Developmental Services Professional, you are embarking on a rewarding career by supporting children and/or adults experiencing life with a disability. You will learn how to effectively develop a person centered approach to support an individual’s emotional, mental, physical, and/or social needs. Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are examples of the content you will study in the program.

You will learn about the stages of human development, the diversity associated with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and the range of community supports for children and adults. In addition, you will learn to work within the legislative frameworks governing the Developmental Services Sector as it relates to prevention and intervention techniques, person-centered planning, dual diagnosis, basic nursing, pharmacology, alternate forms of communication, and the constructing of a safe, respectful, and dignified life. You will develop advocacy skills through relationship building and the critical thinking skills required to support people who experience life with disabilities.

In-class learning will be complemented by extensive hands-on experience gained through four block placements, beginning with a placement in semester two, and continuing with placements in semesters three and four.

Students will acquire the following skills from this program:

  • Communication using alternate communication systems: sign language and a picture exchange communication system
  • Administration of medications and basic nursing care
  • Advocacy for supports and services
  • Creation of effective informal and formal person centered plans
  • Creation of positive behaviour support plans and positive intervention and instructional strategies
  • Supporting individuals across the diverse spectrum of disabilities
  • Helping those experiencing life with a disability to integrate into the community
  • Working collaboratively with families and community professionals

Program Highlights

  • 2 years - 4 semesters
  • Field placement opportunities in semester two, three, and four
  • Small classes taught by industry experts who are active in the field
  • Hands-on experience in advocacy, report writing, developing informal and formal strategies for individuals experiencing life with disabilities, crisis management, and much more
  • Opportunities for summer and/or part-time employment with local agencies
  • Certification in Non-violent Crisis Intervention and Prevention
  • Fast-track option may be available through the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process and/or Advanced Standing if you have related work experience or a related diploma/degree

Employment Opportunities

Developmental Services Worker graduates support children and adults living life with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and / or dual diagnosis. This can lead to a range of positions, including:

  • Developmental Services Professional / Direct Support Professional
  • Educational Assistants
  • Supported Employment Professional
  • Independent Contracting Professional
  • Respite Professional
  • Community Participation Supports / Day Support Professional; including children, adults, and senior

College/University Degree Opportunities

Graduates from this program may continue their studies at college/university and may receive credit for their prior College education.

Course options

Here are the different ways in which you can study Diploma in Developmental Services Worker (DSWP).

Full Time (2 years)

Tuition fees

CAD$15,276.00 (8,49,825) per year




Cambrian College

Barrydowne Campus,

1400 Barrydowne Road,


Ontario (ON),

P3A 3V8, Canada

Entry requirement for international students

Ontario Secondary School Diploma (30 credits) or equivalent or mature student status, including:

  • Any grade 12 English (C), (U), or (M)


  • Computer competency in relevant software
  • Any grade 11 mathematics (C), (U), or (M)
  • Any biology (C), (U), or (M)
  • A valid driver's license
  • Volunteer work/co-op placement in a related area

Additional Requirements

  • First Aid and CPR certification prior to the second semester placement
  • Ability to participate in Non-violent Crisis Intervention Training
  • Non-violent Crisis Intervention prior to the fourth semester placement
  • An up-to-date criminal record check is required prior to all field placements. Agencies may not accept students with a positive criminal record check.
  • Ability to assist individuals living life with disabilities in all aspects of daily living as required, including lifting and transferring
  • Up-to-date medical

English language requirements: IELTS 6.0 (no band under 5.5), TOEFL 550 (paper based test)

80 (internet based test) and PTE (Pearson) 58.

* Please check with your chosen school for the exact entry requirements for your programme.

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