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It’s not easy to raise a child with a disability. Children with disabilities need specialized care and attention, so it’s easy for parents to feel overwhelmed and distressed. However, children with disabilities have strengths and unique skills, whether those lie in their artwork, emotional intelligence, personality, or IQ. It’s important to focus on children’s abilities rather than solely their disability. 

Luckily, both the Government of Canada and the Manitoba government have a support program to assist parents with the emotional and financial difficulties of raising a child with a disability.

What Is The Children’s disABILITY Services (CDS) Program In Manitoba?

Manitoba’s Children’s DisABILITY Services (CDS) is a program that helps families raising children with developmental and physical disabilities with emotional and financial support. The program is offered through the Manitoba Department of Families.

What Kind Of Services Are Offered Through The CDS Program In Manitoba?

Manitoba’s CDS Program offers many services to parents with a child or with children with disabilities. 


Respite is a short-term break for parents or caregivers in caring for a child with disabilities. The demands in care are extensive, so it’s common for parents and caregivers to experience health effects, such as fatigue and depression, throughout that care. The CDS Program offers respite services in or outside the child’s home, and sometimes through a registered nurse for children with more complicated medical needs.


An employee in the CDS Program might refer children to their regional central intake for the Children’s Therapy Initiative (CTI). Families also have the option to refer themselves. Examples of therapy includes:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Speech and Language Therapy

Child Development Services For Preschool Children

Children in the CDS Program, from birth to age 6, are eligible for an early intervention service known as Child Development. This service aims to maximize the developmental potential of a child through knowledge transfer to a child’s parents or caregiver(s). 

Autism Services

The CDS Program offers two types of services for autism:

Autism Outreach: This service helps parents and caregivers care for children on the autism spectrum by teaching them about autism intervention methods. 

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA): This analysis helps determine the unique and specialized needs of a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The analysis allows for care to be specialized and personalized for each child based on where they fall on the spectrum. 

Behavioural Services

The CDS Program links families of children with disabilities with behavioural specialists, to help them plan and address a child’s challenging behaviours. 

Summer Skills Programming

The CDS Program assists children in school to maintain their skills in the summer. Operating in the summer months, the CDS Program’s Summer Skills Programming offers support needed for children to access programs and activities to help them retain what they learned in the school year. 

After-School Care For Adolescents

Many after-school programs exist for children who need supervision and child care outside of school hours. However, those programs aren’t always available to adolescents, which could be stressful for a parent who works late hours and has a child with a disability. The CDS Program offers after-school care specifically for adolescents in the program.

Supplies, Equipment And Home/Vehicle Modifications

Some disabilities, specifically physical disabilities, require accessibility modifications to a home and vehicle. The CDS Program provides families with the financial support needed to pay for such modifications. Examples of supplies, equipment, and modifications include:

  • Wheelchair
  • Lift systems
  • Ramps
  • Ankle foot orthotics
  • Walkers
  • Scooters


Transportation is sometimes more difficult for children with disabilities. Since children with disabilities often need to go to medical appointments and specialized service appointments, families might experience financial burden from arranging transportation. The CDS Program offers some financial support to subsidize these transportation costs. 

Do you qualify for Manitoba’s Education Property Tax Credit?

How To Qualify For The Children’s disABILITY Services (CDS) In Manitoba?

For a child to qualify for the CDS program, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Under the age of 18 
  • Live in Manitoba with their family
  • Medically diagnosed with one of the following:
    • Developmental delay 
    • Intellectual disability 
    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Lifelong physical disability 
    • High probability of developmental delay due to a pre-existing condition

It’s important to note that to qualify, parents must present a written confirmation of the child’s diagnosis from a medical professional.

How Do You Apply For The Children’s disABILITY Services (CDS) In Manitoba?

There are a couple of routes to apply for the CDS Program. You might be referred to the program by a medical professional such as a pediatrician or psychiatrist. Some daycares and schools might also refer families to the program. Additionally, you can apply to the program directly by completing and submitting the Referral and Intake Application form and submitting it to the CDS Office in your region.

If your application is successful, a Children’s disABILITY Services employee will contact your family to discuss your situation. They’ll look at your scenario and needs, and inform you of the support available to you through the program and other agencies.

Children’s disABILITY Services FAQs

What should I do If I think my child has a developmental delay?

If you suspect that your child has a developmental delay, it’s important that you visit a doctor as soon as possible. Developmental delays appear differently in different children. Some occur more slowly than others. A doctor can help you find the support your child needs, and/or refer you to a more specialized clinic. 

Does The Children’s disABILITY Services (CDS) In Manitoba provide financial support? 

Yes, Children’s disABILITY Services (CDS) in Manitoba provides some financial support to eligible families. Specifically, the program offers financial support for Supplies, equipment, home/vehicle modification, and transportation. 

How can I gain access to all of the Children’s disABILITY Services (CDS)?

A family’s circumstances and the needs of their child or children will determine the level of service and support that they need. Similarly, a change in circumstance could result in a change in support. The CDS will discuss all available supports that can help address your unique needs.

Final Thoughts

Raising a child with a disability is an incredibly challenging experience. However, there is government support available to ease the financial and emotional burden on parents and families. If you require support for a child with a disability in Manitoba, contact your nearest CDS office.

Chrissy Kapralos avatar on Loans Canada
Chrissy Kapralos

Chrissy is a Toronto-based communications advisor. With an English degree from the University of Toronto and editing courses under her belt from Ryerson University, she has continued her lifelong passion for writing and editing. In addition to working for Loans Canada on a variety of financial topics, Chrissy has a few years of resume writing and editing under her belt, and takes great pleasure in helping people find work that fits with their experience and passions. When she isn't working, you can find her practicing yoga, hanging out with her dog, reading up on financial and real estate news, or planning her next trip abroad.

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