Community living partners present solutions to a growing crisis for adults with developmental disabilities
VANCOUVER, April 27 /CNW/ - A "Families First" agenda for British
Columbia should include listening to families who are struggling to
support adults with developmental disabilities, says the B.C. Community
Living Action Group (BC-CLAG).
This is a key theme of a consensus report released today by BC-CLAG,
with eight recommendations to resolve a growing community living
crisis. The report, "Reaching Out, Weighing In," emerged from a broad
community dialogue launched in 2010 by all major partner groups,
including families, self advocates, service providers and support
The report warns that sweeping cuts to residential and other supports
are violating the fundamental rights of people with disabilities to
autonomy, independence, choice, and support. They also impose a
crushing lifetime burden on families. Adults and their families are
being denied a voice in individual and system redesign decisions that
have major consequences, including potential safety risks. A key need
identified during public forums hosted by BC-CLAG last fall was an
independent provincial advocate who could provide monitoring, oversight
and public reporting to protect the rights and safety of adults with
"We strongly support our Premier's new commitment to families and we
urge her to start listening to those who are struggling," says BC-CLAG
member Anita Dadson of BC FamilyNet "Families provide 90% of supports
for adults with developmental disabilities. But we cannot continue to
play the lead role without critical supports like respite and a full
range of residential options for adults who cannot live safely on their
own or with their families."
The BC-CLAG initiative was sparked by growing alarm over a "service
redesign" launched by Community Living BC in 2010, with a stated goal
of reducing costs by C$22 million. Thirty three group homes were closed
in Victoria, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, Surrey, Kamloops, Williams Lake,
and Terrace between March 31 and December 31, 2010. If the closures
continue at this pace, BC-CLAG estimates that one in three B.C. group
homes serving adults with developmental disabilities will have closed
Respite, day programs and other supports have also been cut, leaving
families and adults struggling to cope. Many remain on lengthy
waitlists or face significantly reduced choices when they are finally
able to access services.
Despite government assurances that no one is being forcibly moved, the
report notes numerous complaints documenting such occurrences. "Forcing
people from their homes, denying them choices and cutting them off from
families, friends and communities, against their wishes and the pleas
of their families, violates every commitment the BC government made
when it established CLBC," says BC-CLAG member Dawn Steele of Moms on
B.C.'s community living support system is chronically underfunded. By
2013, demand for adult services will have risen by 60% in a decade.
Over roughly the same period, the provincial government budget has
remained static in real terms.
"As Community Living BC continues to defund services and supports, we
will loose dedicated, well-trained and committed staff," says BC-CLAG
member James Cavaluzzo. "There is a real issue of recruitment and
retention in the community living sector, which is a major problem for
individuals and families who need support."
The report's key recommendations include:
Increase provincial funding to meet the support needs of adults with developmental disabilities and
their families, and allocate funding equitably and strategically.
Create an independent advocate with a broad legislated mandate to improve supports and outcomes for
adults with developmental disabilities by providing oversight,
monitoring and public reporting.
Include individuals and families in decision making by listening, by offering meaningful choices and by
respecting their diverse and changing needs.
Consult and collaborate with service agencies, front-line workers, disability advocates, and
other stakeholders with key knowledge and expertise.
Introduce provincial legislation setting out the inclusion rights and support entitlements of adults
with developmental disabilities.
The BC Community Living Action Group (BC-CLAG) is a network of
self-advocates, families, support staff and agencies who support adults
BC-CLAG includes: BC Coalition of People with Disabilities, Moms on the
Move, BC FamilyNet, BC Government and Service Employees' Union,
Developmental Disabilities Association, BC Association for Community
Living, Health Sciences Association of BC, Hospital Employees' Union,
and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. To learn more, visit http://communitylivingaction.org
SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
For further information:
For more information, please contact the following speakers:
- Anita Dadson, BC FamilyNet, (778) 279-2025
- Dawn Steele, Moms on the Move, (604) 874-1416
- James Cavaluzzo, BC Government and Service Employees' Union, (250) 507-8492
- Master of Ceremonies - Michael J. Prince, University of Victoria, (250) 721-8043