On January 19, 2018 the Minister of Community and Social Services (CSS)announced a review of the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program after hearing from Albertans with disabilities, families, workers and agencies that improvements were needed. A PDD Review Panel consisting of 11 members from diverse backgrounds including clinicians, researchers, self-advocates and family members was established. The Review Panel was asked to engage the public and provide recommendations to the Minister of Community and Social Services on improvements to the PDD program. Input was collected across the province through in person visits with workers and agencies, public surveys and roundtable discussions with self-advocates and families. Seven Alberta communities hosted in person “Community Conversations” where participants had an opportunity to share their experiences with the PDD program directly with the review panel. A few highlights from these community conversations are provided here:
- Families, individuals and services providers all expressed a need for person-centred, flexible support options and transition planning for both youth and older adults.
- Families of adult children with disabilities that are currently not eligible for the PDD program shared their experiences and belief that PDD supports would be beneficial, but that these programs are currently focused primarily on serving individuals with complex needs.
- Several families expressed appreciation for the family-managed services model but would like improved information to navigate how to use these services.
- Innovative housing models existing in several locations are successfully supporting some people with complex needs.
- A focus on individualized service delivery, staff training and education is needed, however, large caseloads for frontline workers present challenges.
- There is a need for affordable housing and transportation options for people with disabilities in both rural and urban settings.
For more information on the “What We Heard” PDD Program Review Community Conversation Summaries, please visit the PDD review webpage at https://www.alberta.ca/pdd-review.aspx.
Over the past 10 years, The Sinneave Family Foundation has been working in partnership with numerous autism-serving organizations across Alberta to offer a number of services and supports for families and individuals on the autism spectrum that relate to the areas for improvement identified by families in the community conversations.
Sinneave operates a Resource Centre, located at The Ability Hub, where families can meet with a knowledgeable parent Ambassador for information about variety of topics including family managed services and navigation to community based resources. Sinneave’s Launch suite of transition planning and skills development programs (Launch into Life! Workshops, Launch On-line and Launch + Skills) works with families to create an individualized transition plan for adulthood. Building the skills needed to gain employment or to live more independently are supported through a variety of internal and partnership programs including Employment Works, Spectrum Advantage, and Meticulon. With respect to Housing, Sinneave works collaboratively with the family-driven Aspires Housing Group to facilitate housing opportunities that include a focus on social and community connection.