Spring 2020 Updates
Reflections on the pandemic and the work ahead
Although many of us needed time to get our bearings as we tried to wade through and survive the COVID pandemic in those first weeks, thoughts about supports for people with disabilities have been top of mind. We’re all in this together certainly fits with the disability world; never before have we seen so many disability related groups come together across this country on common issues. This has included the issue of prioritizing/triaging in ICU and the need for essential supports should someone living with communication challenges and other disabilities need to go to the hospital in these times. Lobby efforts continue.
About individualized and/or direct funding: Some good work has been done with regard to temporary changes to Passport Funding and Special Services at Home (SSAH) funding given the circumstances and the pause on the use of support workers. As people start to think about using support workers and how to be safe while things open up we know the work of educating and lobbying about individualized funding will continue. Work needs to be done to ensure that those waiting for Passport and SSAH who have already been approved or deemed eligible will receive funding. More work needs to be done around the option of individualized funding to support a ‘whole’ life – one that includes support for an individualized home option as well as participation and contribution in one’s neighbourhood and community. Not everyone wants to look to traditional supports. Work is also needed to get the word out for a better understanding about the various individualized/direct funding options available to people who are vulnerable and living with disabilities in Ontario – some newer than others.
With regard to self-determination, supported-decision making, communication and relationships: Work needs to continue to heighten the importance for people with disabilities to be supported (as needed) to make their own decisions – in line with the United Nations Convention on People with Disabilities. Also critical to self-determination and support for a person’s choices in life are the relationships one has with people who care, understand and want to support what is being communicated.
Many thanks to people and families who have spent time trying to educate government on disability related issues, and to some of our partner organizations: People First of Ontario, Family Alliance Ontario, the Special Services at Home Passport Coalition, Ontario Independent Facilitation Network, local family networks, and many other organizations and allies too many to list here. Those who have historically supported self-determination, citizenship, individualized funding and an everyday ordinary life in community! We are all in this together!
Windsor-Essex My Home My Choice group to host individualized funding gathering!
Co-Chair of the Individualized Funding Coalition to participate
Prior to COVID-19, My Home My Choice partners in Windsor-Essex had made plans to host a small gathering of people and families who have lived experience with individualized/direct funding and individualized home options. The face-to-face think-tank and discussion first planned for the end of April was cancelled just as invitations were ready to go out due to the pandemic. It is being re-scheduled as a small virtual gathering. Yona Frishman, co-chair, of the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario was invited to join the gathering as a resource person to the group. A couple of Ontario Independent Facilitation Network (OIFN) representatives were also invited due to their experience with facilitation and assisting people to take up a good life, often times using individualized/direct funding. Given the times we are in this think-tank/discussion could look a great deal different than first imagined. A report on the discussions will be shared later on the IFCO website.
A Review of Individualized Funding – Recent Research
Co-Chair Yona Frishman is excited to be reading newer research on individualized funding. Stay tuned, she will be sharing the highlights and connections to this research in the next IFCO update — coming soon! Some of the research information will also be used as part of the discussion for the virtual gathering described above. Learn more at this link: https://individualizedfunding.ca/individualized-funding-what-you-will-want-to-know/
Thank You to Windsor-Essex Brokerage for Personal Supports!
Website save: You may have noticed the Individualized Coalition for Ontario website was down the first part of May 2020. Bill from Windsor-Essex Brokerage was able to trouble shoot and bring the website back to life in even better form than before the problem occurred. He was also able to ensure the IFCO web-address was not lost! Everything is working fine again. IFCO is now in a better position to share updates and information! Much appreciation for the support IFCO has received over many years from Windsor-Essex Brokerage for Personal Supports. Many thanks to Bill and the rest of the Brokerage team!
News and Views – 2019
January – April 2019: Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario supports lobby efforts to keep Independent Facilitation in Ontario into the future
Across Ontario people and families, who had independent facilitation support and assistance as part of a provincially funded project, embarked in lobby efforts to save independent facilitation in Ontario. People with developmental disabilities and their families over the course of the four year project had received facilitation and planning support to build their connections, broaden relationships and create a good life in their communities. Most used individualized/direct funding to support their day-to-day lives. The Ontario Independent Facilitation Network (OIFN) led the project. Independent facilitation is seen by the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario (IFCO) as an important option in the lives of people who use individualized funding.
Advocacy came in the way of face-to-face gatherings across the province and a strong on-line initiative led by families that began late 2018. Many IFCO members/leaders from across the province were involved in advocacy efforts in their own local communities. In addition resources were developed by the leadership with the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario along with the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network leaders to strengthen the collective efforts provincially.
In the end, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) chose not to keep funding the independent facilitation project. Thousands of people with disabilities, their families and networks started the fiscal year April 1, 2019 without their facilitators. Independent facilitators lost their positions. After years of educating government on the importance of independent facilitation, and it being embraced in the transformation document called Opportunities and Action, it became an especially difficult time.
October 2019, Important themes shared regarding people living with developmental disabilities with Minister
Adequate amounts of individualized funding for a full life, the need for direct funding to continue at 18 years of age with no breaks, and the support of independent facilitation were some of the topics shared through stories and experiences at a meeting with the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services at a local gathering in Windsor-Essex. Coordinated by a family leaders from Windsor-Essex, local partner organizations, people with developmental disabilities and families met with the Minister to share their stories. Some of the participants were long standing members of the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario – both families, and local organizations who were able to share the values and principles of the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario through their stories.
Stories shared ranged from hearing about the success of some innovative individualized housing options through to people without Passport funding who were still waiting, and others who did not have the support of independent facilitation. One agency and a member of IFCO, spoke of how well individualized funding and independent facilitation works, because of the creativity and commitment of families and people’s support networks, and how honoured they were as an agency to be supporting that work.
December 2019 – Planning begins to hold local discussion group
Partners with the My Home My Choice initiative in Windsor-Essex started planning for a small family gathering to coincide around the time of their learning event in spring 2020. The intention: have a think tank/discussion about individualized funding and hear from people and families who have used individualized funding over a long period of time. The goal for local partners, also members of the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario, was to provide an opportunity to hear what is working and not working, and hopefully include some provincial resource people.
News and Views – August 2018
The Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario (IFCO) has been quiet the last couple of years — but not idle. Long-time members have been involved in a number of things locally and provincially which kept them connected to the values and principles of the coalition’s work.
IFCO has not been active in the traditional ways that were apparent in our first 20 years. During this time period, IFCO was active with community engagement events, frequent coalition meetings, research, forums, projects, the creation of important resources and writing of briefs. Over the last couple of years we have worked in partnership with other entities and/or supported important work behind the scenes. We have been pleased to see that the IFCO foundational work from the first 20 years has been built upon and utilized by individuals, families, partners and forward thinking projects.
In terms of our more traditional activities, IFCO had done a good deal of research and writing for the times. It was time to take a pause. In addition, some of our most active leaders needed to take a breather. Others, sadly, passed away leaving a deep hole for many within IFCO and among out partners. This included Peter Dill, Beth French and Judith Snow, all strong leaders and proponents of individualized funding and what it took to support a good life as an everyday citizen.
What have IFCO members and allies been involved with?
- OIFN project work: IFCO leaders/members/allies have been actively promoting the values and principles of individualized funding and citizenship with their involvement in the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network (OIFN) project over the last three years. Individuals from across the province became involved with the OIFN project work by participating and sharing at local community engagement events and provincial gatherings. The list of leaders and long-time members who have been involved with the work is too long to share here. But much thanks and appreciation needs to go out to the work that has been done and the opportunities for participation that were made available.
- Housing Task Force Projects: Others have been active with Housing Task Force projects in their local communities -projects that which were based on the values of citizenship, self-determination, and community first.
- Learning More about Microboards and Aroha Entities: Others became involved in learning more about Microboards and Aroha Entities and participating in a provincial network of families and partners who gathered and/or met through go-to-meetings. These organizations are a way for people living with disabilities to direct their own lives with support of those who care about them. As a small infrastructure they also compliment and support the use of individualized funding in someone’s life.
- Consultation: Although, IFCO has not done any outreach or community engagement work of its own in the last couple of years, the coalition has had a presence and made their work available to others to build on. IFCO leaders have also been asked to consult and share at times around specific direction to support other work.
- MCSS Partnership Table: IFCO has remained involved at the Partnership Table for Developmental Services along with other Common Vision members where the values and principles as outlined in our documents found on the website were often put forward. Michelle Friesen has continued as our past co-chair at that table. We have worked closely with Family Alliance and People First at these meetings. Information from those meetings has been shared with our leadership team. However, we have relied on our partners to get information out to people and families and partnering/supportive agencies because of our capacity issues these last couple of years.
- Provincial Housing Task Force: We have also had active representation at the Ministry of Community and Social Services Housing Task Force meetings through Linda Kahn’s dedicated efforts. Lynda has connected with people and family networks at times to get information out. And she has represented the values and principles that we have held so near and dear to our hearts over the years.
What Now? What Next?
IFCO has planned a gathering of people and families in August 2018 called Straight Talk. This day is designed to hear from the grassroots as to where things are at with regard to individualized funding in Ontario. Others in the province have done some analysis and writing, but we have heard feedback from families that it has not been fully representative of what is needed. Therefore we are hosting this Straight Talk event to hear directly from people and families.
We will also gauge whether it is important that IFCO become more active with engagement opportunities, forums for people, families and allies, coalition gatherings and/or more information sharing. We will evaluate what capacity exists to carry on the work. We look forward to people and families coming together to share information, and determine what the future will look like for IFCO.
Having this event is timely with the change in government in Ontario. We see this as an opportunity to prepare and be ready to explain what has been working within the transformation efforts of the government and what has not – with regard to individualized funding. This is a good time for educating government from a grassroots perspective – not from a system or government perspective.