I first began learning about Facilitation Wellington Dufferin when my mother Judith Rosenberg began working for them less than 1 year ago at age 75. She was given the opportunity to work with a very special group of individuals. In the beginning the work was hard the technology to work at the agency was a bit of a barrier. Soon my mother began to excel and began to see progress in the individuals she supports. There weren't times without challenges but, she and they began to thrive.
I run my own peer support & creativity program called COMING FULL CIRCLE, and I am a person with lived experience so I have first hand knowledge of the work my mother does.
She has always said she wants to be known as someone,'of service'. This is her calling and it is needed very much in our and others communities in Ontario .
These special people supported by people like my mother within FWD are being threatened by the Ford government's short sightedness, tax grabbing, self-serving ,egotistical behaviour, and it must be stopped.
This is people's lives we are tampering with! They aren't able to stand up for themselves because of their disability. They do not have a voice.
So it is here that we as a people can stand upto Ford and his cronies for the most vulnerable in our society.
Because a society can only be judged by how well they take care of their most vulnerable.
I recently watched the documentary about Fred Rogers of The People in Your Neighbourhood and I was struck by his strength to champion the littlest children in our lives. He stood upto to the powers that wished to dismantle Public Television.
He won by explaning only in a few short minutes the need ,and won ,and resulted in getting the 20 million to continue.
I think we only need a significantly less amount to run Facilitation in this province.
So keep fighting the good fight and don't give in to these' thugs' who are taking the rug out from under our most vulnerable.
Jay S. Lefler Rosenberg
COMING FULL CIRCLE
My name is Marty West. I have been a client of Independant Faciliation.
The service is desperately needing its funding conitinued. It dramatically helped me during some of the most tragic and helpless times of my life. I have Cerebral Palsy and was in a very troubling housing situation.
My life needs had always been taken care of by my mother. When I was 36 years old, my mother got very sick (pneumonia and needed to recover) and I had to be placed in a nursing home during this time. This lasted 15 months. She got better and recovered.
I needed to get out of there (and back closer to my mother) and it was my Independant Facilitator that made this happen. I was placed in an independant livivng situation, but unfortunatley, the care here was worse than the nursing home. While waiting for a new living arragment to present itself, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
She died on November 9, 2017. It was devastating on two fronts, my mother was gone and I needed a better place to live.
My faclititaor helped me move into the place I am in now. I am happy to say that I have found a place that I call home.
I hope that the Ford government will seriously read this testimony of the impact that Independat facilitation has had on my life and many others. To not reinstate this funding would only cause more problems. This funding is very valuable and has to continue.
Thank you, Marty West
My 19-year-old daughter, Sandra, enjoys many activities typical for her age...texting, social media, reading, cooking, baking, movies, skiing, skating, biking, swimming, dancing, and singing. She also loves school and learning. Sandra, who has Down syndrome, has developed these skills through her own hard work, and the support of her community: Teachers, EA's, Professionals, Respite workers, Camp counsellors, Friends and Family.
As Sandra approaches adulthood, some of these supports have started disappearing, and others will disappear as she ages out of high school and other programs. As parents, we want to provide the opportunities, support and encouragement for Sandra to continue to reach her true potential.
However we can’t do this alone; Sandra needs a new “community” as she enters adulthood. Building this community starts with Independent Facilitation. We have seen first-hand the success that Independent Facilitation has brought to other Adults with Developmental Disabilities who we know.
We have proactively started on this path, to provide Sandra with the best transition possible into adulthood. We do not have family in town and Sandra does not have any adult supports or plans for her future...for her Life After High-School.
My husband or myself will need to stay home full-time to care for Sandra, which means one of us will no longer be able to work. Working with an Independent Facilitator will help Sandra develop a Support Circle, to Work, Volunteer, have Choices, make Decisions, gain adult Skills, live Safely and be involved in our Community, rather than being isolated at home.
Sandra has not been isolated as a child, and she deserves not to be isolated as an adult. As my husband and I age, we need to have a plan in place for Sandra. Independent Facilitation will guide Sandra in that planning.
It is crucial that our Provincial Government continues to fund Independent Facilitation so that Sandra, and other Adults with Developmental Disabilities, can plan, organize and fulfill their Dreams and Goals throughout their Lifelong Journey. This is not only the right thing to do, it is also the fiscally responsible thing to do. Proactively funding Independent Facilitation will help Sandra (and other adults) develop independence, minimizing their use of other government resources and funding.
Independent Facilitation will provide the support for Sandra to find her path to plan and build the life that she wants.
Our Provincial Government needs to take the time to research and understand the importance of Independent Facilitation.
My daughter now 25, has been placed inappropriately in the group home 6 years ago.
Independent Facilitator brought HOPE to my daughter and I by showing us the appropriate path and supporting us through the steps we needed to take to change her placement.
We are still waiting for the results of our actions...
Parent Basia Mair.
February 1, 2019
Dear Premier Ford,
We are writing, again, about our objections to planned cuts for funding of Independent Facilitation. Another affected family shared their letter from you. What follows is an examination of the information your government has based its decision for the cut to service. We will respond to comments made in your letter (with *))
*The Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project began in 2015 as a time-limited project. The previous government communicated in January 2018 that the project should reach its completion by March 31, 2018.*
This project launched in April of 2015 with three objectives:
“To increase the number of people who are receiving independent facilitation and planning;
To evaluate the outcomes of independent facilitation and its impact in the lives of people who choose it;
To build the capacity of grassroots independent facilitation organizations so they are able to retain facilitators and operate sustainable...with hopes of annualized funding.” (Weaving a Story of Change: The Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project, learning so far. (Part A, page 16) June 2017 )
*The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services provided funding this fiscal year on a transitional basis. While the program evaluation of the project, led by an independent consultant, found select positive outcomes, the main conclusion is there was little benefit to those who participated in the project versus those who received supports and services offered by community agencies.*
Are you referring to the October 16, 2016 government report: Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project Evaluation Data? This report was based on only the first year into the project. It is restricted under the Access to Information Act due to the exemption of privacy. https://www.ontario.ca/data/independent-facilitation-demonstration-project-evaluation-data
A follow-up report “Weaving a Story of Change: The Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project, learning so far.” was prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services and Ontario Independent Facilitation Network.) in June 2017. http://www.familiesforasecurefuture.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/OIFN-IFDP-LearningSoFar-Web-v2.pdf. This follow-up report (abbreviated to WSC) refers to flaws in the October 2016 report that did not accurately reflect the project. The government acknowledged the issues. Perhaps that is why this second report was done a year later.
The issues were outlined in WSC, part D, pages 12-13:
“The Ministry independent evaluation consultant worked to equate and compare two modes of developing a Person Directed Plan: one mode facilitated by someone outside a service agency...and by staff within a service agency...there is no uniform definition of Person Directed (Centered) Planning. The context, circumstance, intent, and desired outcome make each offering different... (it is) important to note that Independent Facilitation needed to be created, grown and develop in the compressed time lines of the ..IFDP (Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project) while traditional service offerings have been well established and fully funded for years. These are not equivalent or comparable.....It is our belief that comparing two offerings as equals (when they are not) in order to decide which was better, was based on flawed design”
The 141 page comprehensive report demonstrates positive change. Many clients served by the project are now benefiting society through volunteer and paid work. They have learned how to access community resources and develop life skills to help them become independent. Some now live independently and are much more socially engaged with friendships and are living a life of purpose and fulfillment.
Can you please be more specific as to which “supports and services offered by community agencies” those with disabilities are expected to use in order to achieve the same level of support as the IFDP? Can you provide a cost analysis of these services? ”It is important to note, that the average PASSPORT allocation (significantly less than $35,000) per person falls well short of expenditures on agency directed residential/day/employment service combinations (more than $100,000). (WSC page l )
*Independent facilitation also benefits a small number of individuals in limited geographic areas of the province, because of the limited pool of facilitators*
”The expected outcome of the project was approximately 1100 new people would be engaged in Independent Facilitation services across the seven Ontario communities.” WSC part A page 16)
No additional funding was provided to expand into new communities or to hire more facilitators. Despite all of this, more than 1700 people have accessed the service, with a waiting list of thousands. My son waited four years for the service, receiving it in November of 2018. This is a new field and it will take time to train more independent facilitators. Having work that is sustainably funded will make it much more likely for this field to attract qualified professionals.
*Our government remains committed to supporting transitional aged youth with developmental disabilities.*
How? Please provide specifics on the challenges being faced, the plan to deal with them, criteria for success, and a time line for implementation. Independent facilitation works with each individual to develop a plan based on their needs, strengths, and their community. The needs of an adolescent do not disappear with adulthood. They often intensify without the support of aging parents.
*Families who would like to use person-directed planning, through an independent facilitator, can continue to do so using their Passport funding.*
Where would families find Independent Facilitators? Most families, given the extra demands of their disabled adult child, do not have the extra time or energy to find and train their own facilitators. How would your government be able to assure accreditation, on-going training,and essential networking of facilitators? The networking fosters an increase in their knowledge of community resources and collaborative planning for clients. At present, facilitators in the seven funded agencies have begun to establish this network and are given the time to develop a relationship with their client. They do not have a divided focus and the extra work of being self-employed. Individuals with communication and social disabilities need time to develop trust and an understanding of the process. This relationship is what makes planning possible.
$2500 of Passport funding can be used for independent facilitation. My son has $5000 of Passport funding for the year. What follows is a sample break-down of the annual costs of services paid for through Passport funding:
Ottawa Para Transport bus pass for a year =$2289
Supported recreation program (one evening a week)= $1200
Respite day and evening care= $200 a day x 7= $1400
Spending the $2500 on Independent Facilitation would mean removing some or all of the other services covered by Passport funding and does not nearly provide the same service provided by the demonstration project. The cost for Independent Facilitation is estimated at $4700 (based on funds provided per individual to the IDFP at Citizen Advocacy Ottawa). Compare the cost of having an Independent Facilitator with potential crises that can lead to great cost to the individual, their family, and your government.
Costs of crisis:
Hospital bed in Ontario for one day =$842 (costs from homeontario.ca)
Costs from first responders attending to individual in distress or danger.=$240-410 per hour
Urgent placement into a group home for one year = $90 000 .
The developmentally disabled are overly represented in the legal system due to not receiving the help and support they need.
These costs can easily climb into tens of millions. These issues and problems plaguing the ministry are outlined in the Ontario Ombudsman report from August 2016, “Nowhere to Turn
Independent Facilitators are a cost-saving measure and potentially a life-saving one.
*Individuals can contact their Passport Agency or Developmental Services Ontario office to get more information.*
It took 4 years of persistence to get funding for our son. How would someone with a developmental disability be able to access this service on their own? The Ontario Ombudsman's 2016 report found:
“The service system is difficult to navigate, including lack of co-ordination for people with complex needs, and inconsistent case management....by the time someone finds themselves in crisis, there is no clear place to turn to to figure out how to deal with difficult, painful, and even dangerous circumstances.” (WSC, Part B pages 13 and 14)
*We continue to work closely with our partners, the sector and the people we serve to improve the developmental system and deliver real results for the people of Ontario.*
What partners, sectors, and people are you referring to? How will you do this and when? How will you engage with those who are the most affected? Thus far you have not been listening to the thousands of individuals with disabilities and their families. Hear us, see us, we are the people of Ontario. You are ignoring those with disabilities and placing many in great peril.
*Thanks again for contacting me, and I wish you well.*
You are the premier. We don't need your wishes. We need your supportive action. You have the power to create programs and communities to assist the disabled to live a full and rewarding life. I strongly encourage you to continue to support some of our most vulnerable citizens to achieve these goals through Independent Facilitation.
Karen and Stephen Halchuk
Dear Ms. Gretzky,
I am writing to express my concerns over the proposed cuts to independent facilitation in Ontario. Our nephew, Dan Balind of Harrow, has benefited from these services and is on his way to gaining an independent life away from his parents as his two sisters have done before him.
Dan Balind was born in February, 1988 with a team of experts gathered around for a C-section. Prenatal testing had determined that Dan had some type of brain damage (“myelomeningocele?”) that would need immediate surgery at birth. Doctors and therapists were not sure what type of damage or delays Dan would have, but the doctors in London were prepared to operate and give him the best chance possible because of the wonders of the prenatal screening that was available.
Dan has always been a kind, thoughtful and caring relative. His memory puts aunts, uncles and grandparents to shame; his recall of detail is phenomenal. Physical and cognitive impairments have not diminished the outstanding person that he is to friends and family who have watched him bloom since childhood.
Along with being part of Dan’s “circle of support”, I have experience “in the States” advocating for my own son with special needs. In 1992 our second son Matthew was born as an emergency C-section in distress. Matt was without oxygen for 7-8 minutes before the doctors got to him and resuscitated him. We knew from the beginning that much of Matt’s brain had been compromised, but we would not know until later how much of his development would be impacted.
Dan’s parents, Karen and Rick Balind, were the first to come see us at the hospital. They assured us that whatever happened, we could handle it; they had been working with Dan for four years. Not only is Dan an example of the collaboration between families, doctors and service providers, he is an ambassador to family, friends, and their Harrow community of someone who was “different”, “impaired” or “challenged” and still as important to our family and his community as any of our other nieces and nephews.
In trying to learn about advocating for MY son with special needs, I participated in a program called “Parent Leadership Program” sponsored by the Arc Michigan in Lansing, Michigan in 1997-1998. This program brought in service providers, legislators, advocates, and persons with disabilities to let us know procedures to access services and how to approach those in power.
The most dynamic speakers we had during this training were Jack Pearpoint and Marsha Forest. In the mid-90’s, Toronto was seen as the model of inclusion and advocacy. Jack and Marsha were training people IN THE STATES to try to implement Canada’s models of inclusion and service to all citizens. Programs such as MAPS, PATH, and “circle of support” are now used in community mental health programs across Michigan and across the U.S. Jack and Marsha brought these “new concepts” from Toronto to enlighten American service providers about more humane, cost-effective plans while the institutions that had often been the only choice were being closed down.
In Michigan, the laws for special education provide services for students with disabilities through age 26. My husband and I knew that we had time to prepare for transition and “what would come next” after Matt was ‘aged out’ of his school/life skills program.
Due to his complex physical problems and weakened immune system, our son Matt died at age 16 in 2008. We were never given the opportunity or the challenge of what happens after school…
On the other hand, when Dan’s schooling ended, his parents worked tirelessly to find him job training, job skills, paying work, volunteer work, and confidence to begin going out into the community on his own – starting with riding his bike or walking to the houses of relatives and friends. That has increased to working with independent facilitation to enable him to make his OWN decisions about job placements, recreation choices, and housing choices now that he is 30.
I would hate to see that Ontario, the leader and example for the world in promoting independence and success for those with disabilities, would cut funding to such important services. I know others can cite statistics about the cost of full-time care for those who cannot care for themselves. For the cost of these supportive services, Ontario citizens can enjoy a productive life as participating members IN THEIR COMMUNITY.
Please reconsider ending these valuable services March 31. The rewards and successes far outweigh the costs.
I am dismayed to hear that Doug Ford is planning to cut the budget for Independent Facilitation. Instead of being cut I would like this program to be extended. The focus is on providing the kinds of support individuals need to integrate more successful in their communities. There is no other program that supports this type of programming, which is based on the particular person and their needs. And even if there were, there is not enough funding to pay for what this program provides from Passport funding.
My 26 year old son with autism is being supported by Erin Levesque from Citizen Advocacy and it is enormously helpful to him and to me. She has helped strengthen his friendships with others in the community, worked to improve communication between his day program workers and his group home workers and also provided support to me and good advice, as it can be overwhelming parenting a young adult with autism. We are currently setting up a Relationship Circle for David to connect him more independently to friends and support in the community, but I am concerned this will not be properly implemented or supported if this funding is cut.
This seems to me a short-sighted budget cut aimed at removing services from the most vulnerable members of our society and the ones least able to advocate for themselves. The emotional distress this will cause participants who have come to know and trust their Independent Facilitators and the additional stress put on family members by removing this source of practical and emotional support cannot be overstated.
I hope this program continues to be funded and is expanded in the future. The decision to cut this individual-centred program goes against the social justice movement to have a more inclusive society for people with disabilities.
The importance of Independent Facilitation can be best illustrated through telling our story. Steph is my 29 year old daughter, who has special needs. For the past 3 years, she has been working with an Independent Facilitator through Bridges to Belonging. It is hard to put into words the very meaningful impact that Steph’s facilitator has had on her, on our family and on our community. There is no doubt in my mind that without continued Independent Facilitation, Steph, our family and the community will lose out immeasurably.
Over the years, I have worked hard at helping Steph transition from school to the community. I have done my best to provide opportunities for Steph to have a purposeful, happy life. Our Independent Facilitator has also been instrumental in helping Steph work towards this goal. With the help of our Independent Facilitator, Steph is surrounded by a caring and supportive network of people who have her best interests at heart. It is our Independent Facilitator, who keeps this support team connected with Steph. Consequently, Steph is blessed with many wonderful friends who have a special relationship with her. These relationships are very important to Steph and are invaluable to her overall well being. It is the Independent Facilitator, who is walking with Steph as she moves towards more independence. It is the Independent Facilitator, who has got to know Steph and her gifts, and has helped her get paid part time work. It is the Independent Facilitator, who has helped Steph spread her wings and move into her own apartment with a roommate and with supports in place. I could go on and on; however, it is not just “what” the Independent Facilitator has helped Steph with (ie establishing a network of support, helping her find employment, helping her move out on her own. It goes far beyond that. It is the work of our Independent Facilitator, who is helping Steph to believe in herself and to become a capable and resilient young woman and citizen in our community..
As I mentioned earlier, over the years I have done my best to be there for Steph, to care for her physical, emotional, social and special needs in order that she can reach her potential. It is challenging “navigating the waters” and I must admit that I have “run out of steam” from time to time. It is our Independent Facilitator, who has partnered with me to support and encourage Steph on her journey. She helped me to see the possibilities and to really listen to Steph. She taught me that it was about “what Steph wanted” and not “what I thought was best for Steph.” Knowing that I am not alone in helping Steph grow capacity is such a relief and a comfort. The Independent Facilitator has definitely decreased my stress level, allowed me to catch my breath from time to time and encouraged me to not give up on helping Steph have a good life.
Our community has also benefited from our Independent Facilitator working with Steph. Our community is richer because of the active participation of Steph as a volunteer. By identifying Steph’s passions and gifts, and by having a wealth of connections and resources, our Independent Facilitator has helped Steph get involved in the community in a way that she is using her talents. It is a win-win. Steph feels good about giving back to the community and the community benefits from her volunteering.
As you can see, our Independent Facilitator is making a huge difference in the life of Steph, my well being as her caregiver and in the community. She is a lifeline for us. We would not be where we are today, if it were not for the Independent Facilitator. However, what really concerns me is that Steph has not “arrived” yet. She is not where she used to be and she is not where she wants to be. She is on her way. There is still work to be done. The ups and downs are ongoing and we will continue to need the services of our Independent Facilitator after March 31, 2019.
Our hope is that the provincial government will hear our voice, listen and act responsibly on behalf of all families with family members with disabilities. Why change something that is working well and cost effective? Everyone, no matter what their differences are, deserve to belong, to be valued and to have a purposeful, happy life. Without continued funding from the provincial government for Independent Facilitation, this is not going to happen.
Dear Lisa MacLeod,
I am writing to you about the Independent Facilitation program your government is set to cancel as of Mar 31st. My 27 year old daughter is autistic and receives services using independent Facilitation. It’s the first time we’ve made measurable progress with our daughter. Our worker had found her paid employment and a volunteering position. This has taken almost three years to establish. My daughter has potential but cannot access that potential without help.
Without help she will become a permanent drain on the system. Once we pass on, the province will have to care for her at a much greater expense than if she were helped and supported in becoming independent.
There were no public consultations regarding this funding change and it seems you’ve ignored the good results the program shows it has had.
It frightens me to think of how I will be able to support my daughter once she no longer has a facilitator. Yes I could use her passport support for this but then she would lose the other therapy support she gets. How do I decide what’s more important - her mental health or her development of independent skills?
I’m glad for you that you haven’t had to raise a developmentally disabled child, but I wish you could summon up the empathy to realize how critically this cut will affect the young adults in this program. You are squandering potential and it’s going to cost government more in the future. Clearly that future is not a concern for you as managing the deficit is obviously more important to you than your constituents.
I had few delusions about government, but my daughter already went through years of difficulty during the Harris years due to the cutbacks to education which resulted in inadequate services for my daughter when she needed them most.
Now, as she transitions to independence the Tory government has let her down again. Please tell me how I should best explain to her why she’s losing the support she counts on. Really. Give me a script that explains your rationale in a way that doesn’t cast her into an anxious tail spin
For the sake of my daughter and the many who have the misfortune of being developmentally challenged in Ontario I strongly encourage you to continue to fund Independent Facilitation.
I take this issue seriously and hope you will do the same. I would like to hear back from you by February 15th, just in time for Family Day.
Will you listen?
My name is Stacey Bielaski !
I was living in Pembroke ON, 2016 I received Independent Facilitation. It changed my life so much.
I have a disability never thought I wasn't important . I find my life was so plain, simple, with Independent Facilitation has made my life more extraordinary I move to a big city, new opportunities to learn who I am as a human being, seeing my gifts that I have to share with others, knowing I am important person.
My voice matters , I have many goals , I want to make a difference to other people with disabilities.!
This is very important to me
There are 2 points that I want to make.
We have been here for 15 years – we are immigrants. There are language barriers. It’s not easy to get the right information, to connect with people. Independent Facilitation has helped.
During school years our children are in school and get lots of support- from social workers, occupational therapists etc. But when my son finished high school we felt completely lost. Everything was put on our shoulders.
Taking care of our son– appointments, looking for things for him to do, dealing with medical issues.
There is a big gap in the transition from school to adult life. Independent Facilitation helps me navigate this gap and takes some of the weight off my shoulders.
Not all individuals have family members to be their main caregivers. A bit more than a year ago we met a woman, who had moved to the area of our church sharing an apartment with an elderly woman in the home of the granddaughter of the lady she lives with. This young woman’s parents have died and the main people involved in her day to day life are not directly related. We met her through the independent facilitator who contacted our church and we have been giving her a ride to church. We are a small and older congregation so there is not a lot of excitement but we are told that just a regular opportunity to get out with other people for a morning has really been a help and her smile and delight in being there has been good for all. The people she lived with would never have reached out to the church on their own and we would not have met her as it is easy to be isolated in new subdivisions. The IF has assisted with hiring supporters as needed, finding activities and generally taking the load off of the kind people who are providing a home and all the companionship they have time to provide. If the support of IF is removed it is going to make it so much more difficult for all and the next time there is a need for change in arrangements there will be no outside support and the outcome might be less positive.
We know of one other family this same facilitator has helped with great success. Their daughter has recovered from health issues, has been assisted to get a job and an apartment to share with a roommate after supporting the development of a positive relationship between the two. The people who do hold the IF positions are carefully chosen, exceptionally involved and caring people who always give way more than they are paid to do and it is money well spent. Much better to pay the relatively small amount for IF than to further burden the health system, in particular because of mental health issues which can interfere with any happiness or life satisfaction for individuals and their caregivers.
This same IF supporter has been particularly effective at finding people jobs and doing the job shadowing with them until they can be successful. A job is one measure of success that gives people status and some added income as well as the benefit of a group of people at work who can hopefully enrich their lives socially too.
On a personal level our family has benefited greatly from individual assistance to our daughter, at first during the transition from school to adult life including getting a paid job for 12 hours a week which lasted for over 9 years after she graduated from high school. Emotional issues involving anxiety and depression, eventually, developed and meant a long recovery time at home with parents and then much support has been needed to develop a new life plan with qualified support workers and new activities. As we age, the huge issue for all parents is where our adult children will live when we are unable to care for them and how we can best make sure that the support is in place so the arrangement works for all family members.
Again, independent facilitation to explore housing options or help in setting up an apartment in the family home is of great value for all involved and of benefit to society as a whole . We have not been part of this current IF project which, regrettably, may not continue. We have been fortunate to find and put together support from various places but not all families could give the time, resources nor have the connections, family and community support which has sustained our daughter and ourselves and helped her to be at a happy place once again. New needs will arise as she ages and we do hope that there is always some availability of independent facilitation to call on to help us and her brothers as time goes on.
Message to our MPP from Shirley Mather and David Dawe
January 27, 2019
Dear Sylvia Jones,
It was nice to see you, however briefly, today at the Mono Winterfest. We were sorry that we were not able to grab a minute of your time to chat as we wished to share a significant concern that exists, not only for our family, but many families in our community who have a family member who has a developmental disability.
We wanted to share with you the importance of, and with that, our concern about the possible threat to, the opportunity for our son Christopher and others in the community to receive Independent Facilitation. Independent Facilitation is an invaluable service that helps individuals plan for and build their best life in the community, often by helping them find and integrate natural community supports and opportunities into their daily lives.
We know this service is invaluable, as our son has had the privilege of being served by Facilitation Wellington Dufferin (FWD) through the Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project. Through working with his facilitator at FWD, Christopher lives a life that suits his talents, skills and a desire to be part of his community. His facilitator has helped us identify supports and opportunities that exist in our community. Rather than rely on a government funded day program (or be on a waiting list for one) to fill his days, Christopher, who loves to work, has a part time paid job, 2 volunteer jobs and pursues recreational activities that fit his busy schedule.
We are aging parents and at present we are working with his facilitator to start a personal network of support. A personal support network is made up of real people (not paid caseworkers) in his life, who commit to being involved on a regular basis to help with planning, decision making and problem solving.
Certainly you can see that the outcomes of Independent Facilitation are very cost effective in the long run, by finding and capitalizing on supports and opportunities in the community. Yet, we have heard that it is very possible that our government will not continue the funding for this service as of April 1st, 2019.
When you look into this, you might find out that perhaps it will still be possible to purchase this service on a fee-for-service basis. There are some flaws with this approach. What first will come to most people's minds are either that many families will not be able to afford fee-for-service programs, or if they are able to obtain and use Passport funding, there is an annual limit on how much they can use for Independent Facilitation. The annual limit makes it a very stop and start service which is difficult, as part of what makes this service so unique is the ongoing relationship between the individual and the facilitator which really gives the facilitator insight into what makes this person tick and where that passion can find a fit in the community.
What may not be obvious is what the fee-for-service model will do to the long term sustainability of high quality facilitation. Here in Dufferin county, it is Facilitation Wellington Dufferin that provides this service. They provide excellent training and ongoing mentoring for their facilitators. Facilitation is what they do, it is not an extra service they provide on the side. Stable funding, as what was occurring during the Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project, allows for regular ongoing training and mentoring to occur. A fee-for-service model will be unpredictable. For FWD and similar organizations who focus on facilitation, if unpredictable funding is in their future, we are concerned about what that will look like for families like ours in years to come when they seek out Independent Facilitation.
Certainly stopping the funding of Independent Facilitation will derail so much cost effective good that has been done and that could continue to be done. We are appealing to you to advocate on behalf of our family and the other 100 families in our area that find this service so necessary, to your colleagues in government so that the funding of this vital service can be continued.
We are happy to meet with you if you require any additional information about Independent Facilitation.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely Shirley Mather and David Dawe
Please don’t take my Facilitators Away
Hello, my name is Anthony Chan. I am 26 years old and I live in North York with my Mom, Dad, Brother, and Grandma. When I was fourteen I had a liver transplant because of my bile atresia liver disease. My life has not always been easy, but since 2015 it has been getting better in part because of the help I have received from Families for a Secure Future.
Since 2015 I have worked with two great facilitators, Eunice Reynolds, and Joanne Wilson. I am deeply saddened by the possibility that I will not be able to see them in the future. Without them, I would not have been able to get my high school diploma, or my job at the Root Distribution Centre and I would not have met Jacob, my support worker.
Please don’t take away the funding for important services like Families for a Secure Future. Joanne and Eunice have made a big difference in my life, and I hope to continue to have their support.
January 25, 2019
Hon. Lisa MacLeod
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
Hepburn Block 6th Floor,
80 Grosvenor St.
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1E9
Dear Hon. MacLeod,
Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region (EAFWR) were saddened to hear that the Independent Facilitation (IF) Demonstration Project, which provides people and families with independent facilitation services through seven IF groups in communities throughout Ontario, is coming to an end without any Ministry plans for more permanent foundational support for independent facilitation to continue.
As a Developmental Services agency that receives MCCSS funding for a variety of programs, we see the positive impact that independent facilitation (provided by the independent facilitators of Bridges to Belonging) has upon the people we support, in addition to the formal services they receive from us. EAFWR provides Coordination and Case Management support, Brokerage of funds, and supervised Direct Support People in support of families using their Special Services at Home, Passport and Respite programs, as well as a FamilyHome Program and Community Participation Supports. Over the last several years our case coordinators have observed that independent facilitation truly has an important role in helping people and families in a variety of situations, to plan, find their direction and increase their citizenship involvement, which complements and enhances the formal services we can provide through our programs. With over 500 Passport contracts at EAFWR, this has been a great advantage for families, and in turn has helped EAFWR be more efficient and strategic in administering people’s funds.
For a person supported through Passport funding, EAFWR Case Coordinators, often along with a Direct Support Person (DSP), work with the person and family to develop an individual support plan (ISP) to help the person identify areas that they would like to pursue using their funding. The DSP and the person will then work together towards the goals. An independent facilitator involved in this process is able to cultivate the relationship further with the person and consequently help them explore and identify their gifts, strengths and hopes to a greater degree. Their knowledge and concentration upon community opportunities and ability to help the person connect and find places where they can become involved, lays good foundation for the DSP who continues to support the person in the spaces and places they wish to be. Thus, the person is more likely to use their funding to create the kind of activities and life that gives them meaning and opportunities for true citizenship and contribution. In addition, funding is spent in a way that utilizes skills appropriate to the type of support needed to maximize the success of the person in achieving what they hope to do, utilizing a broad range of community and other resources. In our experience, we believe independent facilitation can reduce reliance on government funded supports and enhance involvement of natural supports and the broader community. I would be very interested in reading the program evaluation report for the Independent Facilitation Pilot. Has this report been made public? Please let me know how I may obtain a copy.
The work of modernization initiatives, such as the IF Demonstration Project and the Developmental Services Housing Task Force, reflect approaches that engage "the whole of government" and "the whole of society" for the successful life in the community for a person with a developmental disability. Through these modernized initiatives, the province can improve the person's quality of life, while simultaneously reducing their reliance on MCCSS funded Developmental Services. These forward-thinking approaches build capacity for the province's DS funding, helping address the urgent needs of thousands of people who desperately need our services, yet linger on registries or waiting lists.
As a developmental services agency built upon Community, Dignity and Belonging, we fully support independent facilitation, and our local agency, Bridges to Belonging in being able to continue this service. We would urge our Provincial leaders to see this as an essential component in building inclusive communities where everyone can make a valued contribution. We understand that people and families can use their Passport to continue to purchase independent facilitation. But the limited fees they can afford through their Passport funding will not provide enough funds to sustain the organizations that provide this service. Having an organization such as Bridges to Belonging offers stability, well-trained and recognized facilitators, accountability, resources and professional credibility which gives people and their families the trust, confidence and commitment to use independent facilitation to help in the creation of good lives for all. Please continue to fund this essential component of a modernized Developmental Services system in Ontario.
First I would like to talk about the opportunity of my family being part of the Independent Facilitation Project, and the challenges we will face if funding is to end.
As parents of a young adult with a disability, especially a rare condition with many implications, having an Independent Facilitator has given us a more positive outlook for our son’s future.
Our son Matthew is slowly finding his rightful place within his community. This has not been easy for him, nor has it been easy for his family.
There have been and continues to be obstacles that we must face. Anxiety, Depression, Low Self Esteem, Fear, and not being Welcome are just some of the challenges.
Our Facilitator Joanne has been wonderful in helping not only our son, but us as well in finding supports to promote community inclusion, personal choices, and participation.
Joanne has also attended meetings and supported Matthew in difficult situations.
There have been times when we have had to revisit Matthew’s plan and work on solutions to reduce his anxiety. New places, new people, and unexpected changes can send our son into a Fight Flight Mode.
As parents we live a very demanding life that requires a great deal of patience and energy. We also undertake a series of stages beginning with denial, anxiety, depression, guilt, and anger. The anger we experience is in trying to access the most essential services that will allow our adult children to live the most productive life possible.
It’s now Twenty Years later and here I am writing a letter again asking you the Ministry of Community and Social Service to continue to provide funding in your budget for Independent Facilitation.
Independent Facilitation does work. It’s helping my son Matthew to grow with a more positive self image, a feeling of confidence, and acceptance within his community. Even with all the setbacks we are moving forward.
In 1999 my son was part of the Individualized Quality of Life Project. He had made many gains in all areas only to be discharged from the project because of his age (7). My son was left with no services or supports when the program ended for him.
During that time Matthew went through many stages of anxiety and depression. He could not understand why he wasn’t getting the supports and services anymore. Not only did the termination of the project affect him, it also affected his younger brother and us his parents.
One cannot open a book and start creating a chapter of one’s life and then close the book, leaving one confused and feeling alone. Once again I feel like the book is being closed, the new chapter we are creating will be lost.
Money spent now can be money saved in the future.
McKenzie's Journey & the beauty of Independent Facilitation. “Facile”….a word that has many definitions, but the most fitting one in this case is “acting, working, proceeding”. We were very fortunate to purchase services with Facile to do independent facilitation / future planning for our son McKenzie and it was the best thing we ever did. As a parent of a child with special needs, navigating the system can be daunting, complicated and exhausting, let alone the looming future of uncertainty that lied before us as our child finished his highschool career and entered the land of unknown. Thankfully our facilitator, Mirjam, provided us the most important thing…”hope”. After the first meeting, I felt, “We can do this. There will be something for McKenzie. There is hope afterall.”
Our experience with facilitation has been a fantastic journey. Things have not always been smooth. There have been obstacles, challenges and times when I thought I wasn’t sure about things, but here we are today with McKenzie living the future that was at one time only a dream. Mirjam said “reach for the stars. Anything is possible” and with that we moved forward.
Through the months of meetings and planning, we have been able to carve out plans for McKenzie’s future ensuring he has quality filled meaningful days that meets his needs and interests, as he entered the true world of ‘adulthood’. Our journey started while McKenzie was still in highschool so we did have time to plan before he graduated which was wonderful. As parents and with Mirjam’s guidance, we brainstormed what we envisioned his more immediate future to be but also looked further down the road as to the wish list, always keeping McKenzie’s best interests, likes, dislikes and needs in the forefront. Mirjam was able to connect us with various other services in our neighbouring community of Stratford and our home community of Mitchell which helped McKenzie to land his first and current job at the Ritz Villa where he breaks down boxes every Thursday. This job is not just money so he can purchase his favorite, fries. This job is a place he goes weekly; his commitment where he is greeted by co-workers each time by name and with a smile and asked how he is and how things are going; where he jokes with co-workers as well as enjoys being a part of a team and where is he is like everyone else who has a job and contributes to his own income and society. He has just celebrated his second anniversary this past July of being employed there.
A couple of years ago, a circle meeting was held with Mirjam as facilitator which included family friends, support workers and past EAs from school. At this meeting, great ideas came forth as to McKenzie’s future based on what others saw as McKenzie’s likes, strengths and abilities. As a parent this was a very humbling experience as I was able to see through other people’s eyes and experiences, what gifts McKenzie had that I didn’t fully realize. That in itself gave me even more hope as I learned he had even more to give than I was aware of, but more importantly, how much he impacted the lives of those around him and how much he is cared for and loved. If it wasn’t for facilitation, this would not have happened.
From that meeting was born more ideas and potential opportunities for McKenzie and paths for us to explore. Mirjam continued on this journey with us and continued to search, encourage and support us. As a result, McKenzie entered the world of volunteerism. To me, this is almost if not more important than the paid job. Sure it is great to work and earn money, but to give of yourself and expect nothing in return shows great character. However, what happened as a result is that McKenzie got and is getting back way more than he gives. He has gained experience in his jobs which may lead him to paid positions; he is showing others that he can be of service and contributing without getting anything in return; he is making new friends and socializing; he is getting out of the house and keeping busy and his is happy because he gets to do these things. McKenzie has been blessed to have a few volunteer positions experiences to date and who knows what lies ahead.
Facilitation has also led us down other paths. McKenzie has re-entered the pool and has been re-engaged in his love of swimming which he does weekly before heading to work. He goes bowling in the fall and winter months with Special Olympics and plays on two different T-ball teams in the summer. We are currently exploring attending to the local gym to do some exercising. McKenzie has become more involved with Community Living Stratford where he has support workers weekly who provide in-home support and also attends a day program one day a week. He is surrounded by friends, engaged and trying new things.
As parents, when McKenzie graduated from school, we didn’t want him to graduate to the couch or in front of the TV, but for him to be involved in his community, get out and about, make friends and have a meaningful life… a bright future. I am so pleased to say we got way more than we hoped for. McKenzie is rarely home during the week as he is busy going out and about, working, attending programs, visiting the mall, visiting his new friends, volunteering, swimming, bowling, keeping active…He is living a good life! He has meaningful days….and all thanks to facilitation.
Our journey is by no means over and there is still much work ahead, but we are definitely on the right path in carving out a fabulous bright future for McKenzie. Our facilitator Mirjam has and continues to provide us with support, encouragement and guidance as well as knowledge and resources. If we had to endure this journey on our own, it would have been one filled with floundering frustration, road blocks and grief where we may have thrown in the towel in despair. We truly appreciate the giftedness of the Facile team and how they have truly made a positive and hopeful difference in our lives, but especially McKenzie’s. Your journey should never be alone and thanks to Independent Facilitation (Facile), it isn’t.
Dear Ted Arnott,
Thank you for reading our letter and poem below.
As you will see from Nathan’s poem, life with development disabilities is not a straightforward path of school, job, apartment, and so on. Independent Facilitation provides individualized supports proven effective by the Ministry to help people move forward on their own paths rather than the prescribed which does not work for all. It is exciting for us to see Nathan feel empowered and joyful as he overcomes hurtles and finds ways to connect and contribute to this community he so loves. This is his goal. Independent Facilitation helps make this possible and we see the light in his eyes. It is hope. It is success. Some missions accomplished already! But there is more to do. More track to lay. We’ve only just begun. Nathan is laying inroads that will disappear in front of him if Independent Facilitation is lost.
The Ministry has invested significantly in this initiative; a process proven valuable, innovative and efficient by its own assessment. Ending Independent Facilitation will derail much good work that has been done and on which many have come to rely. It is an ongoing individualized process that, in effect, continually strengthens communities.
For Independent Facilitation to be stable, it needs to be funded as a part of the Ministry’s budget for service and support offerings, not solely through a fee-for-service model where people and families purchase support with Passport or personal funds which are already limited.
Then Independent Facilitation will remain for generations to come!
Nathan is newer to this support and his life has already started to open from the young man creating dreams on canvas to one making inroads and connection to the community he loves here in Fergus as is his dream. He is not there yet. It has to be nurtured continually. No-one can see the invisible hurtles or have the patience or time to learn, then dream and scheme ways around them, or it would have happened by 25 years of age with all our efforts. It takes skillful, dedicated Independent Facilitation.
We look forward to meeting with you when able at your convenience to share our experience and need for Independent Facilitation.
Best wishes for family, staff and your day.
The Gatten Family
Nathan Gatten on “Climbing Everyday Everests” and Making Tracks with Facilitator Sylvia (FWD)
In my basement, my studio
I paint the brightest star
Makes me feel I go far
But my Everyday Everest
Takes all we’ve got to climb
Stopping the time
Can’t see the sky
My parents and I
Try & Try & Try
Outside my window
See but cannot touch
Future without footpath
Too much, too much
Double try, triple try
Try & Try & Try
My Present, My Future
My Everyday Everests
*When Climbing Together with Facilitator Sylvia (Facilitation Wellington Dufferin):
We test the terrain
She knows more than my name
Walks the mile in my shoes
We see what I could do
Helps me find what I want to...
Facilitator? Dream Team!
“Hmm.. Maybe? But how?”
Build on community now.
We’re Surveyors! Track layers!
Laying tracks takes time
With Sylvia, they’re mine
Me, my facilitator, my family
And my Everyday Everests
PLEASE DON’T CUT MY ROPE NOW!
Having a facilitator has given our family insight and information that we were unaware of.
We feel that a facilitator is highly beneficial to those families in need of extra support.
Having a facilitator is not only beneficial to the family unit, but it is also pertinent to the freedom and development of those with special needs.
The services offered has provided my son with access to extracurricular activities which are specific to his needs and talents.
Independent Facilitation offers planning support for weary families.
It should be recognized that families containing disabled individuals face challenges far exceeding those families who do not support members with disabilities. The result is that these families face tremendous energy drains and any goals that they may have had for themselves and their disabled family member get lost in the requirement for day-to-day survival. This was evident with our family where we would surface from survival mode and make short term goals for Brad only to be lost again as our energy dwindled resulting in the return to survival mode. It is tremendously difficult to make any headway to achieving both disabled family member goals and family goals in these cases.
Enter Citizen Advocacy and due to their help and active facilitation, these goals become more structured and focused with documented plans including timelines. Their (your) continued involvement assures families will achieve greater success resulting ultimately in more energy for both family members including the disabled member. In this regard, Citizen Advocacy has facilitated a number of learning forums for family members that was greatly appreciated.
Net effect may not readily quantifiable , but certainly exists in more productive family members and less burden on government provided facilities (e.g. hospitals, long term institutional living facilities, etc.).
With regard specifically to our family, we are much more focused and knowledgeable (although still tired) thanks to the efforts of Citizen Advocacy.
We certainly support the continuation and expansion of this Ontario government program.
Clay, Lorna and Brad Dawdy
My name is Pamela Power. This is our family's experience with Independent Facilitation.
When Kate was barely out of the toddler stage, people would look at Kate, then look at me and say things such as, “I know someone just like your daughter who got a job washing dishes when she grew up”
Then they would turn to Kate’s twin brother and say; “and young fella’ what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Why do people determine the future for our daughter, but not our son?
Simply because she has Down syndrome and he doesn’t.
As parents, we have always fought against the assumptions made by people who don't know her at all. They are constant. They are unrelenting. Sadly, they are effective at limiting her choices.
That's why finding an Independent Facilitator was a huge relief; someone in our corner who also wanted to know who Kate is and what she really wants to do with her life. If Kate wanted to wash dishes - great with us! But, like anyone else, let's find out first.
Kate’s facilitator invested the time required to get to know Kate and help Kate get to know herself. Over regular meetings, they talked about what Kate is passionate about, what her strengths and challenges are and where Kate sees herself in the future. The facilitator helped Kate define her goals and connect them to real life and real work opportunities.
Kate meets once a month with her facilitator and now once every three months with her Circle of Support. At both meetings, the focus is on Kate, her interests, her needs and what she has to do to achieve her goals. The Circle of Support extends her contacts in the community and brings new ideas and new resources into the picture. This comes at the perfect age for Kate as she transitions out of high school and as she seeks relationships and input from people other than her parents.
Kate landed a paid, part-time job this winter in the area in which she wants to work. But Kate sees this as just the beginning. She’s making plans for how to turn this job into a career.
Dear Honourable Doug Ford,
I am writing to you today in regards to the funding project I have received from Facile Independent Facilitation. I have recently been informed that the funding project will be discontinued as of March 31, 2019. I would like to insist that it be reinstated.
My family, as well as others I know of, have benefited from this funding as it leaves my caregivers more time to care for my every day needs. Often, when caring for the daily needs of an adult living with physical disabilities, it is easy to get so caught up in the necessities that we often don’t have time or are too exhausted to plan for the future. I have some friends who have a hard time planning for the future and eventually their primary caregiver was ill and unable to care for them. This resulted in last minute decision making and, in some cases, placement in a nursing home at a young age as that was the only option where they could receive care.
With funding from Facile, I have been able to utilize the skills and knowledge of Diane Peacock who has helped me plan for my future so I don’t need to go through what my friends have gone through. I would like to continue this planning so that when my caregivers are unable to care for me then we will have a long-term plan in place. Diane has helped my friends and family come together to form a team that will help me for the rest of my life. We are just in the beginning stages of planning and would like to continue to do so, but as stated before, funding is necessary to continue our work.
Diane has helped us overcome the obstacles of planning for my future and I don’t know what we could accomplish without her. Having her help has made me more confident in my future and dreams and has helped me think differently as I’ve been supported in a bigger way. This has been different from my other supports as they have only been able to help with my daily cares.
I feel it is extremely important for the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services to provide funding for Independent Facilitation Organizations on an ongoing basis. Many families don’t have the kind of support that I’ve had this year and I believe it is critical in our daily changing world to have this level of support.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
I just heard that my independent facilitator is not going to be working with me any longer.
I think that's very wrong. It's not fair on our behalf.
She knows what I struggle with. She knows what I like.
She helps me when I am having trouble.
She helped me to get Passports.
If she's not supporting me I'm afraid I might go back to my old ways. She helped me have a good relationship with my disabled son.
Please don't take independent facilitation away.
Our daughter has been non-verbal for 22 years. This has led to behaviour issues and frustrations due her ability not to express hers wants and needs.
As a result of Independent Facilitation especially Erin at Citizen Advocacy; our daughter was introduced to an app called Proloque2go. Erin went above and beyond not only to train our daughter but as well the group home staff on how to use the product..
Our daughter standard of living has increased as a result of being able to express her emotions and needs through the tablet and proloque2go.
During dire situations, Erin facilitated desperate respite for us; if if wasn’t for Independent Facilitation and Citizen Advocacy we would be at a loss.
This organization has been crucial to our daughter’s daily living asa well as ours. It would be a great loss to the special needs community to see this organization disappear.