Our son is a client of Independant Facilitation (IF), a service which is scheduled to be discontinued March 31, 2019..
We wish to provide our perspective as parents of the value of Independant facilitation, in three ways:
- our sons Darryl's journey to live semi-independently in his own apartment;
- comment on the "Evaluation of the Independant Facilitation Demonstration Project" by Power Analysis Inc conducted for the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS), dated September 2016; and
- Our Conclusions and Recommendations
Darryl is a 32 yearly man with intellectual disabilities. In August 2017 he was living at home when we received from Renfrew Housing Corporation the offer of an apartment. While we had been preparing for this for along time, the reality that it was actually going to happen was a huge shock to Darryl, mom and dad. We than received a call from Ruth Ann to inform us that she had been assigned to be Darryl's Independant Facilitator, good fortune and luck were definitely on our side. Ruth Ann initially concentrated on getting to know the three of us and what our dreams, concerns and fears were, In particular she focused on developing a bond of trust and understanding with Darryl so that she could be an effective advocate for him. Ruth Ann assisted us with the practical tasks of finding and hiring case workers, signing a lease agreement. Her biggest contribution however was on the personal support side of ensuring Darryl could express what he was experiencing and his needs, she for example helped us prepare picture board calendars which Darryl could refer to to determine "what do I do next", and "how do I leave my apartment in a secure state". In addition she assisted us to set up "Darryl's Support Network " she prepared agendas, chaired the meeting on Darryl's behalf, and prepared minutes, a most successful endeavour. Ruth Ann also serves as our primary communication conduit into the world of the intellectually disabled organizations, we are not members of Larch or Community Living. We participated in the Safe and Secure Book Club which Ruth Ann organized for her clients, as a result we subsequently established Wills, Henson Trusts and Powers of Attorney, all important steps in securing Darryl's future.
Did Ruth Ann make a difference for Darryl and our family? A resounding YES!
Please note as life changes at some point in the future Ruth Ann will be of great value to deal with those challenges. The need for IF is an ebb and flow scenario.
Comments on the Evaluation of the Independant Facilitation Demonstration Project
A parents perspective of this report as detailed in the executive summary:
- no actual clients or their families were consulted to provide the concrete benefits as detailed in Darryl's story or other being submitted by Independant Facilitation Matters Coalition. Bureaucrats and service providers were the only people interviewed.
- hiring and training IF personnel understandably was a major challenge for the first few years, the good news a reasonably mature IF network now exists;
- the DSO client referral process does not filter clients to see if they actually require IF, it is simply who is next on the list based on seniority. The original program design was to include screening processes but DSO refused to do this. The Evaluators were correct when they noted "this eliminates the most appropriate referrals: those currently transitioning from child to adult service".
- another key consideration when referring a client for IF is do they have the Passport Funding or financial ability to achieve their objectives.
- The Evaluator raise the question "What is IF?" My response is IF is flexible enough to provide individuals the supports required whether it is for housing, employment, socializing or a variety of other important needs. It is client needs driven, todays challenge may be moving into an apartment, in a few years the challenge may be dealing with the passing of your parents.
- The Evaluator correctly notes that the IF spends more time in the planning phase and less as the person transitions into the action phase. As a parent my key observation is if you have no "planning or dreaming phase" you will never know what potential you missed to improve your life. A key part of IF is thinking out of the box to look at possibilities.
- Recommendation 5 addresses the issue of offering group work in addition to individual focused work. Our experience both are of value, economies of scale can be achieved via the Safe and Secure book club and family retreats to introduce relevant topics such as RDSP, Wills, Henson Trusts, employment. It also provides families an opportunity to share experiences with others in a similar situation to dream and grow.
Conclusion and Recommendations
IF is a most valuable service, it has the flexibility to address the needs of the specific individual in the appropriate timeframe. That is difficult to quantify, the proof is the difference it makes for individuals such as our son Darryl and his family.
IF assists families to effectively utilize scarce Passport Funds. Utilizing Passport funds to hire IF services is a nonstarter, as the funds are required for ongoing daily supports.
IF was a complex project to implement, the hiring and training curve was immense, it is now approaching a more mature status. There are obvious problems such as the DSO client referral service which needs to fine tuned.
- IF be continued on a permanent basis, failing that it receive at least a 2 year extension.
- Conduct another evaluation with the focus on how IF benefits clients and their families.
Thank you for your consideration, it would be our pleasure to provide any further clarification required.
Lorne and Gail Clark
5843 Loggers Way