The Aftercare Benefits Initiative (ABI) is a comprehensive health and dental benefits program for former youth in care. The program provides a broad range of benefit coverage, including prescription drug, dental, vision, extended health benefits, counselling, and life skills support services. Learn more about the program’s health benefits below.

Launched on July 31, 2014, ABI is administered by OACAS and is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Green Shield Canada provides the health and dental benefits for eligible youth between 21 and 25 years old, and Shepell provides the counselling and life skills supports for eligible youth between 21 and 29 years old; Shepell benefits previously expired at 25.

Are you a youth interested in enrolling? Check out the eligibility criteria below and complete the application process if you qualify.

Have more questions? Review our set of frequently asked questions or contact the OACAS ABI team at abi@oacas.org.

Update:

We want to hear from you!

If you are a previous or current ABI recipient and have an opinion about your experience receiving this benefit coverage please send an email to abi@oacas.org.

Information collected may help inform the direction of future changes to the program. Please also indicate if you would like to participate in an informant group in 2018 also on this topic.

For more information, you can also email abi@oacas.org

There are two groups of eligible youth: 

1. Former Crown wards or youth who were eligible to receive Continued Care and Support for Youth (CCSY) or Extended Care and Maintenance (ECM) and are between 21 and 25 years of age. This includes youth who:

  • had Crown ward status that expired at age 18;
  • were subject to a protection (formal) customary care agreement or a protection custody order at age 18; or
  • were eligible for support under the Renewed Youth Support (RYS) program.

 

2. Youth who were adopted on or after June 1, 2016 and are between 18 and 25 years of age.

Youth eligible for coverage under another health plan (e.g. a plan provided by an employer, spouse, adoptive family, or university/college) are not eligible.

Youth attending college or university may apply for ABI if they choose to opt out of their school health benefit plan.

Youth receiving Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) are only eligible for the counselling and life skills support services portion of the ABI plan.

Are you an eligible youth interested in enrolling?

Review the application process before completing the online enrollment form.

Have more questions? Review our set of frequently asked questions or contact the OACAS ABI team at abi@oacas.org.

The Aftercare Benefits Initiative (ABI) provides comprehensive health benefits to former youth in care. The program’s benefits are delivered in two parts.

Through Green Shield Canada, plan members are covered for a wide range of benefits and services, including prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, medical items, as well as various professional services (e.g. massage therapy, physiotherapy, psychiatry).

Through Shepell, plan members have access to a variety of counselling and life skills support services, such as:

  • Relationship counselling
  • Financial services
  • Health and nutrition coaching
  • Career counselling
  • Legal services

Youth receiving Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) are only eligible for the counselling and life skills support services portion of the ABI plan.

The full scope of ABI benefit coverage is outlined in the Benefit Plan Booklet.

Have more questions? Review our set of frequently asked questions or contact the OACAS ABI team at abi@oacas.org.

Don’t see your question here? Contact the OACAS ABI team by emailing abi@oacas.org or calling 1-800-718-1797 x2133.

What is the Aftercare Benefits Initiative (ABI)?

ABI is a comprehensive health benefit program, offering prescription drug, dental, vision, extended health benefits, including medical devices and paramedical services, counselling, and life skills supports to former youth in care. The program was launched on July 31, 2014 and is funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The program is administered by the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.

Who provides the benefits of ABI?

Green Shield Canada is the provider of the health and dental benefits and Shepell provides the counselling and life skills supports services.

What does the plan cover?

Full benefit coverage details are available in the benefit booklet.

Eligibility

Who is eligible for ABI?

Eligible youth include: 1. Former Crown wards or youth who were eligible to receive Continued Care and Support for Youth (CCSY) or Extended Care and Maintenance (ECM) and are between 21 and 25 years of age. This includes youth who: – had Crown ward status that expired at age 18; – were subject to a protection (formal) customary care agreement or a protection custody order at age 18; or – were eligible for support under the Renewed Youth Support (RYS) program. 2. Youth who were adopted on or after June 1, 2016 and are between 18 and 25 years of age.

Who is not eligible for ABI?

Ineligible youth include those youth who: Were not eligible to receive CCSY or ECM; Are not between 21 and 25 years of age or 18 to 25 for adopted youth; Were adopted before June 1, 2016; Have benefit coverage under another health plan (e.g. a plan provided by an employer, spouse, or adoptive family). 26 and 29 years of age and seeking to enroll in ABI for Shepell benefits but were not historically enrolled in ABI between 21 and 25 years of age

What if I’m studying and have benefits through my university/college?

If you choose to opt out of your school health benefits plan you may apply for ABI. Otherwise you are ineligible.

I’m covered under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and/or Ontario Works (OW) for health coverage, but they do not offer counselling services. Can I access only the counselling portion of ABI?

Yes, the counselling and life skills supports are available to youth accessing ODSP and OW. Please complete the online application form and, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria, you will be enrolled in the Shepell portion of ABI. You will not receive a formal welcome package, so to confirm your enrollment you should contact Shepell by calling 1-800-387-4765. You will be required to provide your name and date of birth to be connected to the available services.

Are my children covered under ABI?

Yes, dependent children of ABI plan members are also covered by ABI. Please include their information in the application form or email us at abi@oacas.org with their name, gender, and date of birth to have them added.

Is my girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband covered under ABI?

No, the ABI program does not cover spousal partners.

What if I live out of province?

As long as you are a former Crown ward of an Ontario Children’s Aid Society, you are eligible. However, please advise us if you move!

What if my situation changes and I become eligible for another benefit plan?

You must advise OACAS ABI if your circumstances change and you become eligible for health benefits under another plan. If you register for OW or ODSP, you will still be eligible for the counselling and life skills supports.

Are adopted youth eligible?

Youth who were adopted on or after June 1, 2016 and are between 18 and 25 years of age are eligible for ABI, for a maximum of four consecutive years and as long as they do not have coverage elsewhere.

Enrolling

I’m eligible. How do I enroll?

There are two steps to the ABI enrollment process: You must complete the online application form. Take your time to fill in the form carefully and accurately. If you’re a former Crown Ward, you must ask your former worker or Children’s Aid Society to verify your information, by sending an email to abi@oacas.org with your full name, date of birth, and former status. If you’re an adopted youth, submit a copy of your adoption order by email to abi@oacas.org or by fax to 416-366-8317. If you do not have this document, contact the Ontario government to request a copy. Once your application and verifying information have been received, your information will be submitted to Green Shield Canada and Shepell and you will receive a welcome package in the mail within 2-3 weeks.

I will be eligible but I’m not of age yet. When can I register?

You can enroll in ABI up to one month before your eligible birthdate, however you will not become active in the program until you turn of age. Former youth in care become eligible at 21 and adopted youth are eligible at 18.

How do I get my former status or adoption details verified?

If you are a former or current Crown ward, ask your worker or Children’s Aid Society to provide a verification by sending an email to abi@oacas.org with your full name, date of birth, and former status. If you are an adopted youth, submit a copy of your adoption order by email to abi@oacas.org or by fax to 416-366-8317. If you do not have this document, contact the Ontario government to request a copy.

What if I don’t have a permanent mailing address?

If you do not have a permanent address you may use an alternative location where you can receive mail (e.g. your former Children’s Aid Society).

How do I update my contact information if it’s incorrect or has changed?

Email abi@oacas.org with your updated information and we will change it for you.

Accessing ABI

How do I access the benefits of ABI once I’m enrolled?

You will receive an ABI welcome package in the mail 2-3 weeks after you are enrolled. The package will contain your Green Shield Canada (GSC) plan member card, as well as a copy of the benefit booklet outlining your coverage. Once you have received this information, you can begin accessing both the GSC and Shepell portions of ABI. Just remember to ensure your healthcare providers do not require upfront payment and will bill directly to GSC on your behalf before you receive service. To access the counselling and life skills supports available through Shepell, call 1-800-387-4765.

When can I begin using the benefits of ABI?

You can begin accessing the benefits of ABI as soon as you receive your welcome package in the mail. Allow 2-3 weeks for your package to arrive.

How do I access the counselling and life skills supports?

To access the counselling and life skills supports available through Shepell, call 1-800-387-4765. You will be required to provide your name and date of birth to be connected to the available services.

Can I sign up for direct deposit?

No, ABI plan members cannot pay for services and submit claims to be reimbursed by either direct deposit or cheque. You must find providers who will bill Green Shield Canada on your behalf and do not require payment upfront.

How can I access the Green Shield Canada plan member online services?

When you receive your Green Shield Canada ID card in the mail you can register for the plan member online services at greenshield.ca. Once registered, you will be able to search for providers in your area, request replacement cards, and simulate claims to determine your coverage. Just remember that you cannot register for direct deposit or submit claims for reimbursement.

What if my service provider wants me to pay for services out of pocket?

Since plan members cannot pay for services and submit claims for reimbursement, you need to tell your service provider that they must set up direct billing with Green Shield Canada. This can be done easily at www.providerconnect.ca or by contacting Green Shield at 1-888-711-1119.

How do I find a provider who will bill Green Shield Canada on my behalf?

You can use the Green Shield Canada (GSC) plan member online services site to search for providers in your area who will also bill GSC on your behalf. However before scheduling an appointment, you must confirm that they will allow you to receive the service without payment upfront. You will not be reimbursed for claims submitted after the service has been accessed.

What should I do if I already paid for a service out of pocket?

Contact abi@oacas.org if you have paid for services out of pocket while participating in the Aftercare Benefits Initiative. Include in your email a copy of your receipt which shows what services you received, when, and how much you paid.

I need emergency care but my welcome package hasn’t arrived. What do I do?

We can provide you with your plan information by email or phone prior to the arrival of your welcome package. Contact abi@oacas.org or 416-987-2133.

I filled out the application form but haven’t received my welcome package in the mail. What do I do?

Allow 2-3 weeks to receive your welcome package in the mail. If you have and you still have not received your benefit information, contact the OACAS ABI team at abi@oacas.org or 1-800-718-1797 x2133 to check on the status of your application. It’s possible we have not yet received your verification or that we’re missing some necessary information to get you registered.

Are the services confidential?

Yes. Although the OACAS and your former CAS will know that you are registered in the Aftercare Benefits Initiative, the services you access will remain confidential.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

General questions about ABI, including eligibility and verifications, should go to the OACAS ABI team at abi@oacas.org or 1-800-718-1797 x2133. Specific claim or coverage inquiries are to be directed to Green Shield (1-888-711-1119) and counselling related questions should go to Shepell (1-800-387-4765).

On May 7th, 2015, OACAS hosted a webinar for CAS workers and their community partners to learn more about ABI. The recording and presentation slides are available below.

Webinar slides | Webinar recording

Outreach Materials

The following materials were developed to assist Children’s Aid Societies and their community partners in promoting the Aftercare Benefits Initiative. Requests for printed copies should be emailed to abi@oacas.org. Please indicate the desired quantity and full mailing address where they should be shipped.

benefits brochure

postcard

poster

Have more questions? Review our set of frequently asked questions or contact the OACAS ABI team at abi@oacas.org.

Eligible youth must complete the online application form and provide verification of their former status.

Not sure if you qualify? Review the eligibility criteria before applying.

Verifications should be emailed by a former worker or CAS to abi@oacas.org and must include the youth’s name, date of birth, and confirmation of their former status.

Adopted youth must submit a copy of their adoption order by email to abi@oacas.org or by fax to 416-366-8317. If you do not have this document, contact the Ontario government to request a copy.

Once the application and verification have been received, the enrollment will be submitted to Green Shield Canada and Shepell, and an ABI welcome package will be mailed to the plan member.

Ready to enroll?

Apply Now!

Have more questions? Review our set of frequently asked questions or contact the OACAS ABI team at abi@oacas.org.