Events/Gatherings (2010-2018)


Individualized Funding in Ontario 

Judith McGill, Facilitator – Executive Director, Families for a Secure Future & LifePath Training
Date: Thursday, October 25, 2018    Location: Vaughan, Ontario   10 am – 4pm

A gathering of people and families, allies, supportive agency partners, and provincial organizations came together to dialogue further about what is working and not working with individualized/direct funding in Ontario and to consider strategic directions for the future. People and families who participated at the first Straight Talk event were joined by other allies for Straight Talk Two. 


About Individualized Funding in Ontario 

Judith McGill, Facilitator – Executive Director, Families for a Secure Future & LifePath Training
Date: August 23, 2018      Location: Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy (OFCP), Toronto

Straight Talk was a gathering of families held to discuss what is working, what is not working and what can be done about it. Families talked about the different changes that are underway with what the province calls “Direct Funding”.  Some of the changes were welcomed, other changes were not.  Families shared their collective worries about the future, as well as what they feel is working and what could work better. The themes from this event were brought forward to a second event called Straight Talk Two where allies joined people and families from around the province.


What is Aroha? 
How can it sustain a good life, now and into the future?

Elizabeth Bloomfield, presenter 
Date: April 25, 2013    Location: Cambridge, Ontario

This workshop, designed by the Bloomfield Family of Guelph, was put on by the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario (IFCO) to strengthen and inform family and friends of adults who are vulnerable because of disability. Bloomfield’s have pioneered Aroha entities in Ontario since 2001.  Arohas are described on the ‘blog site’ as being “equivalent to Microboards in parts of Western Canada” and to “self-directed support corporations” in some United States jurisdictions.”  IFCO was pleased to be working with the Bloomfield family and our other partners, long time members, to bring forward this one day learning event. It was done as a follow up to the introductory presentation on Arohas given at the IFCO meeting in November 2012.

Summary of the Event:
Over 30 participants attended this gathering – a majority families. Many organizations and communities in Ontario were represented. Feedback from the presentation was positive. Families reported feeling encouraged by the information which many believed prepared them for action. Those who came walked away with knowledge of how to move forward with an Aroha including steps to take and where they would need additional help. To read: the Aroha event flyer, the Backgrounder about the Bloomfield family/their journey, about Aroha Entities and learn about the blog site, click the links below.
ArohaEventFlyer – April 25,2013
Backgrounder – Bloomfield Journey
Aroha Entities

Following the success of the April 2013 Aroha event, Citizen Advocacy Ottawa decided to host a similar event for families in the Ottawa area through their Lifetime Networks initiative. The Ottawa area event was held in spring 2014.


Walking Out, Walking On 

John O’Brien, presenter/facilitator
Date: January 23, 2012   Location: Vaughn, Ontario

About John O’Brien: John learns about building more just and inclusive communities from people with disabilities, their families, and their allies. He uses what he learns to advise people with disabilities and their families, advocacy groups, service providers, and governments and to spread the news among people interested in change by writing and through workshops. He works in partnership with Connie Lyle O’Brien and a group of friends from 12 countries.  John has a gift for provoking thought and action in individuals and families about what really matters.

Summary of the event:
Fifty participants, IFCO members along with invited leaders from the other three groups in Common Vision (People First of Ontario, Family Alliance Ontario and the Special Services at Home Passport Provincial Coalition) and leaders from the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network (OIFN) gathered. Participants included: people with a disability, families, independent facilitators, grassroots organizations and agency partners. (Note: The book, Walk Out, Walk On written by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze, was part of the inspiration for the event. The book invites readers on a learning journey to seven communities around the world to meet people who have walked out of limiting beliefs and assumptions and walked on to create healthy and resilient communities.)

As expected, John assisted participants to explore ideas together. The day provided a good foundation for re-thinking. It was helpful as many who attended continued to consider priorities for their volunteer time and future efforts, as individuals and organizations.  The question: what do we want to be working on was raised a number of times by participants. One of the challenges expressed was facing the reality of what had been created in Ontario despite efforts to contribute time, energy and experience.  Another, the realization that governments lean toward mechanistic approaches.  Participants began reflecting and asking  – what could we be doing to ‘walk on’.   IFCO used the foundational information to continue discussions with coalition members. The following items from the day are available for viewing.
Walking Out, Walking On – SLIDES – Jan 23, 2012
Walking Out, Walking On Flyer – Jan 23, 2012
Save this Date – Jan 23, 2012


April 2012 – What Now, What Next?  At the IFCO meeting held in April 2012, members reviewed their journey over the last 15 years. This included a chronological look at the work, our documents and the presentations that had been made over-time. Difficult questions were considered.  Members responded to the overarching question ‘What Next, What Now?’ in relation to the ‘Walking Out, Walking On’ theme. Concern about the discouragement that existed ‘out there’ among people and families was identified. Members felt strongly that people and families needed opportunities that would encourage and strengthen them – offering some hope through stories of success – even if there were no resources. They needed to hear possibilities.  A decision was made to dedicate more time to this. In addition, IFCO began considering the ways we might ‘walk out, walk on’, change what we needed to, but also stay in relationship with ‘government’ at some level.

September 2012 – Everyday Ordinary Lives involvement:   IFCO, upon invitation by the Special Services at Home Passport Coalition, participated along with fellow Common Vision group members in Ad Hoc work which led to the ‘Everyday Ordinary Lives’ initiative. Seven IFCO members actively volunteered their time; organizational partners from IFCO assisted with expenses and provided in-kind support (space, refreshments, travel, etc.) The work began with a full day gathering in September 2012 and continued with additional full day meetings, conference calls and more over the next few months. The rationale for this work was the hope that a newer approach to advocacy for more direct/individualized funding in the province could help change things for people and families living with developmental disabilities in Ontario. John Stapleton provided expertise and learning around the development of a common message and how to go about delivering the message. Bruce Kappel provided facilitation support.  Families wanted to express the need for adequate funding, but also express their commitment and loyalty to their family members on their journey. A number of participants who has experience with having independent facilitation expressed how vital that had been to them.  A common message was developed, a budget request was agreed to and stories to support the message were added later. This Everyday Ordinary Life message, was then consistently used for all IFCO advocacy and education efforts going forward.
Click the following link to see  our-message-an-everyday-ordinary-life  
Or go to the Everyday Ordinary Life website

November 2012 – Introduction to Aroha’s:   A presentation by Elizabeth Bloomfield was made about Aroha’s, (during the second half of the regular IFCO meeting), as an encouragement to families. IFCO leaders felt that Arohas offer something that families and friends could think about doing that did not require support funding. The informative presentation was a good introduction to the full day event that was being planned at the time by IFCO, the Bloomfield’s and other partners in 2013.


Independent Facilitation and Planning
Family and Facilitators Ad Hoc Group Gatherings

Judith McGill, facilitator
November 2011 and February 2012  – Cambridge

A total of 37 participants, 23 families/people and 14 independent facilitators, from across the province were involved in these gatherings. This included some Ontario Independent Facilitation Network (OIFN) Planning Group members who had also been invited.

One of the reasons for the gathering was to provide an opportunity for sharing so that our collective knowledge and experience with independent facilitation and planning could be documented for the future. (With no guarantees where things were heading in Ontario or how much longer it would take, documenting this ‘lived experience’ was important from a historical perspective.) The goal was to be able hear directly from those who had ‘lived this’ over a period of time – having independent facilitation along with direct/individualized funding. There had been concerns shared by IFCO members that transformation ‘may not’ result in the changes hoped for, that as independent facilitators left ‘the work’ or families grew more tired without resources, went into crisis or passed away – the opportunity for working together, for sharing and hearing the stories/examples may not be there later.    

The information obtained was rich – people and families were clear about the positive impact of independent facilitation and planning in their lives.  More information was gathered than what was expected. A draft summary report was circulated to participants prior to the second gathering for suggestions and edits.  Work continued after the February gathering and more family feedback was received. The final paper was completed by the end of the summer and was shared with the Ministry of Community and Social Services in September 2012. To read or download the paper click the link below.
IFCO Report on Direction of Independent Facilitation – Sept. 2012


Direct Funding Ad Hoc Group
Accountability and Quality Assurance

Judith McGill,  facilitator
September 2010  –  Toronto

Ad Hoc Working group meetings were held that involved 30 participants in total – people, families and some facilitators. All the participants had experience with direct/individualized funding and participation as citizens in meaningful roles in neighbourhoods and communities. The purpose was to capture what having direct funding really meant to people and families, including the connection to accountability and quality assurance as well as more choice and control over one’s life, etc. The last Ad Hoc group meeting was held in September 2010.  A paper that summarized what was learned and gathered was completed late 2010 and submitted to the Ministry of Community and Social Services in 2011.   To read the Direct Funding document, click here.
IFCO Direct Funding Report – Winter 2010