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