14,000 person waiting list, too few housing solutions for Ontarians with developmental disabilities

May 21, 2015 | Canadian NewsWire

“You’re being shipped” are words thousands of Ontario families do not want their adult children with developmental disabilities to hear, ever, when it comes to where they will live. It’s the focus of Unshippable Week, May 25 – 30 as families and supporters raise awareness of the need for choice, including individual funding for housing supports.

“We have spoken to people, organizations and networks representing thousands of Ontarians,” says John Preston ofDundas, Ontario, parent of 27-year-old Jenni. “We need to increase the profile of this looming issue.”

“We represent the first generation of parents to raise children with developmental disabilities in our family homes. They were integrated into schools and now are adults with rich active lives, rooted in their local community.  As parents age and are no longer able to provide care, we need support for a dignified, planned transition to new homes that maintain those community linkages. Currently we have a regional system based on crisis management,” says Preston, Chair of the Dundas Living Centre the organization launching the Unshippable campaign.

Ontarians with developmental disabilities and their families deserve to make the decision on where and with whom they live, when they can no longer live in the family home. The needs of 14,000 adults waiting for residential services and funding are being ignored or overlooked in favour of existing programs that are not keeping up with demand, are restrictive and exclude new, viable options.

To bring this issue home, every Ontario MPP will receive a tongue-in-cheek “Shipping Notice” with just that message. Why? So they have a sense of the stark news many with developmental disabilities are at risk of receiving.

When it comes to the current and future prospects for housing, the picture is alarming. Across Ontario adults are regularly being shipped dozens and sometime hundreds of kilometres away from the community in which they grew up. They are placed in group homes and other care settings simply because that’s where space is available. They don’t know anyone and have been disconnected with familiar programs, community groups, jobs, volunteer and social activities.

“The very real possibility that our children will be shipped away from everything and everyone they know is the last straw as far as we are concerned,” says Martha Fox, parent of 34-year-old Matt. “The government is operating a vacancy-filling system, not a person-centred program.”

Families say Ontario should consider the person-centred Australian funding model. The National Disability Insurance Scheme , launched in 2013, provides people with developmental disabilities choice and offers a positive economic model including job creation. In Canada, Every Canadian Counts is working for similar changes in every province.

Facts

  • The Office of the Auditor General of Ontario identified issues with access to and funding for housing in the 2014 Value for Money Audit of the Ministry of Community and Social Services “Residential Services for People with Developmental Disabilities.”
  • Through an $810-million, five-year investment the Ministry of Community and Social Services initiated the Ontario Developmental Services Housing Task Force to address housing issues encouraging Ontarians to offer “innovative solutions”. The Task Force is currently considering responses to a request for proposals (RFP) based on its $3-millionbudget. Some family and community groups were advised they were not eligible.

SOURCE Dundas Living Centre

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