Home Programs & Courses Full-Time Programs Developmental Services Worker

Developmental Services Worker

Available as a two-year program, distance or apprenticeship studies

As a Developmental Services Worker (DSW), you will assist people with disabilities to live as valued, contributing members of the community. By providing support and advocacy, you will work towards full inclusion for the betterment of the entire community. The program curriculum promotes individualized and inclusive approaches, reflective of innovative practices in the field.


  • Credential
    • Two-year Ontario College Diploma

  • Start Date

    September and January entry

  • Location
    • Belleville campus

Find your career

Developmental services workers support people of all ages with disabilities, enhancing their presence and participation in community life. Loyalist grads find rewarding positions:

  • Providing in-home support to help people maintain independence.
  • In community agencies as residential counsellors and vocational coaches, helping people find meaningful activities.
  • In schools as educational assistants and with not-for-profit organizations.
  • As activation directors in residential programs and long-term care facilities.
  • Providing respite support for families.
  • Average salaries range from $45,000 to $65,000. Learn more about DSW labour market information.

 Our grads get great jobs

  • Educational Assistant, Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board
  • Community Support Worker, Community Living
  • Residential Counsellor, Pathways to Independence
  • Integration Facilitator, Loyalist College
  • Family support/relief

Is it for you?

People who do well in this program come from all ages and many different backgrounds. What they have in common are:

  • A desire to work with people in a caring and compassionate profession.
  • An interest in social justice.
  • In many cases, a personal connection to someone with a disability – often a friend, family member, colleague or classmate.
  • An open mind about what people can contribute and achieve.

What employers say

"As a leader in the sector, Kerry’s Place is committed to enhancing the quality of life for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The graduates from the Loyalist DSW program make a wonderful addition to our team as they have the skillset to help us deliver high quality, evidence-based, innovative and person-directed supports."
Stafford Murphy
Regional Executive Director, Kerry’s Place Autism Services

“Community Living has hired many Loyalist DSW graduates and values their work ethic, professionalism and progressive thinking. Graduates meet our standards of practice with emphasis placed on person-directed thinking and promoting and facilitating community inclusion, meaningful participation and full citizenship.”
John Klassen
Executive Director, Community Living Belleville and Area

"BDACI is committed to helping the people we support have the good things in life and believe that all citizens should have full participation in their communities. Graduates from the Loyalist DSW program have the right mix of values, practical training, and knowledge, making them excellent candidates for various family support positions within our organization. Graduates from such a highly-valued program enhance and strengthen the work our organization does for the people we support." 
Kim Kelsey
Family Support Coordinator, Brockville and District Association for Community Involvement

Experiential learning

Learn to effectively support people with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, autism, and people with a dual diagnosis:

  • Develop hands-on skills that will help people grow, develop relationships, and actively participate in their community.
  • Identify and connect people to community opportunities and resources.
  • Collaborate with people with disabilities to overcome barriers and promote full inclusion.

Apply theory in a real-world setting with three faculty-supervised field placements:

  • Begin with 10 weeks in the second semester and increase to twelve weeks in both the third and fourth semester.
  • Work on-the-job two to three days per week and bring those experiences back to the classroom to enhance your learning.
  • Students have completed placements in residential programs such as Community Living and Pathways to Independence; public and private schools; adult education programs; and organizations in their home communities.

Outstanding faculty make the difference

  • Teachers are passionate about their work and personally invested in student success.
  • Professors have extensive experience in residential services and family support, building on educational backgrounds in disability studies, psychology, education, and other areas.
  • Faculty maintain strong connections to the industry through advocacy organizations, non-profit leadership, and consulting in the field.

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