Creative Supports for Vulnerable Citizens

For the past ten years or so, Ontario has seen a movement towards more individualized supports and services for adults who live with a disability. Values and principles include planning with the person, a central role for families and friends, and designing supports that match what the person really wants and needs to enjoy a good whole life in the community. Key phrases that have become current include “self-directed planning with choice and control”, “supported decision-making”, “individualized funding,” “independent facilitation (or brokerage) of personal supports” that is responsible to the person with a disability, “self-advocacy—nothing about me without me!,” “community inclusion and participation,” and “circles of friendship” or “networks of personal relationships.”

Some of these concepts and ideals go back two or three decades among forward-thinking people. Only rarely were they put into practice in Ontario. Families who tried to do so usually met resistance from Government policy-makers and funders and the traditional service agencies. As elsewhere, people with developmental disabilities still bore the stigma of dependency--charity cases qualifying for support from public funds at the lowest possible level and as a last resort. People who did qualify for funded services had to fit into narrowly prescribed categories, rather than having supports shaped to their real needs and abilities.

There are now hopeful signs that people with disabilities in Ontario may have more choice and control over their lives. In 2004, the Ministry of Community and Social Services began a process of consultation with representatives of many of the stakeholders. An official report on this process was published as Opportunities and Action – Transforming Supports In Ontario for People who have a Developmental Disability (May 2006). New legislation, Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008, is replacing the earlier 1974 act governing Ontario’s services for people with developmental disabilities.

Since 2006, some initiatives have been funded that embody some of the new principles. For example, Passport provided funding for activities in the community for people with a developmental disability who have left school. People with developmental disabilities, their families and community agencies were also encouraged to develop new and innovative residential models to help them live in the community. Pilot projects of independent planning and facilitation have been supported in a few places.

Pathways to Inclusion: Building a New Story with People and Communities (2007), by Drs John Lord and Peggy Hutchison, describes the process of transforming services and supports for persons with a developmental disability. They contrast the way people experienced the traditional service model with the values and principles of the “new story” that is exemplified in various projects in Ontario and across Canada. See OAARSN’s review with more publication details.

Since the mid-1990s, the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario has been active as a loose coalition of groups, family members and individuals who are concerned with supporting people with a developmental disability. IFCO has fostered understanding of the values and principles, advocated more creative supports to allow for choice and control by the people being supported, and monitored current realities. IFCO in partnership with other organizations that provide creative supports launched a Trillium-funded project in 2007. Modeling Community Change and Innovation (MCCI) involves “the collaboration of three communities in Ontario that are building support for individualized approaches for citizens with a developmental disability. A Trillium grant is being used to develop community readiness, strengthen autonomous groups, resource materials, and sustainable community plans. This project will assist people with disabilities, and their families/networks to direct their own lives and live as healthy, participating, contributing citizens as they build a good life for themselves in community.” The MCCI initiative includes a website and the production of print and electronic materials to encourage other communities and autonomous groups as well.

We find that creative supports and the values and principles they embody are highly relevant to the very individual and complex needs of adults with Autism. So OAARSN has been an active supporter of such ideas and practices.

Look up OAARSN’s graphic ten-step process for realizing an independent personalized plan.

Links to Other Resources about Creative Supports

1. OAARSN maintains a Listserv for a network of people interested in Creative Supports, and issues regular Creative Support bulletins with notes of current news and issues and announcements of events and publications. Link for current page about the Creative Supports bulletins and Listserv.
Link for archives of past Creative Support bulletins from 2003 to 2008.
In case any of the many URL links may be no longer active on other websites, as can happen, you might try to cut and paste the text title into your browser, in order to find a current link or similar materials.

The OAARSN website includes a browser for the Google Search function to reach resources on the OAARSN website and the whole World Wide Web.

2. Modeling Community Change and Innovation
Browse the Resources page of the MCCI website

Note these titles:
Resource papers written in partnership with the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario
What is Person-directed Planning
What is Independent Planning and Facilitation
Elements of a Good Person-directed Plan
A Good Planning Process

A resource written by David DeVidi
The I in Independent Planning and Facilitation: Why should Facilitation be Independent?

A resource from the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario
Our Vision

3. The Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario
You may download the following publications by IFCO or its partners:

Independent Planning and Facilitation
"The Signature Paper" Transformation of Developmental Services: Expanding the Possibilities for Citizenship (January 2007).

Rationale for Independent Planning and Facilitation in Ontario: Why MCSS Should Move Quickly to Implementation (November 2006)

Creating a Good Life in Community: A Guide on Person-Directed Planning (2006).

Citizenship, Participation and Transformation
Common Vision Newsletters, Part One and Part Two (2005)

Statement of Principles: What a direct individualized funding support system would look like for a person when these four dynamic principles are at work
(November 2006)

Building a New Story: Transforming Disability Supports and Policy. Revisiting In Unison: Reflecting on the In Unison document and where things are at now in relation to Transformation (September 2005)

The Need for Change (November 2003)

Individualized Funding: Research and Reports in Ontario
Moving Toward Citizenship: A Study of Individualized Funding in Ontario

More Choice and Control for People with Disabilities: Review of Individualized Funding (July 2000)

"The Round Table Report" Linking Individualized Supports and Direct Funding.
Making Money Work for People  - A Pathway to Self-Determination and Community Involvement for People with Disabilities
(May 2000).

4. Inclusion.com
Inclusion Press of Toronto offers books, videos and other materials for learning and training about Circles of Friends, MAPS Making Action Plans), PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope), Creative Problem Solving, and Tools for Teams.

5. PLAN (Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network) is a non-profit organization, established in 1989 by and for families committed to future planning and securing a good life for their relative with a disability. Founded in British Columbia, PLAN now has affiliates in most Canadian provinces. PLAN has been chiefly responsible for the acceptance of the Registered Disability Savings Plan.PLAN’s proven model is explained in a book by Al Etmanski, A Good Life—for you and your relative with a disability (2000). Families are guided to set up personal networks and plan the future security of their relatives with disabilities through seven steps and 15 family worksheets.


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