TORONTO, Oct. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - A very real crisis is upon us. This crisis is fuelled by a lack of funding as well as changes in government funding of supports for people who have intellectual disabilities and their families.
The Ontario Government has made a change to the Special Services at Home (SSAH), a 30-year old program that has provided up to $10,000 a year for children and adults who have disabilities, will no longer be available once they turn 18.
This recent change in funding for families, for a few hours of care for their adult children who have disabilities, as well as demands that have outpaced the incremental investments in support funding over the years, are causing this crisis.
Families, with a child who has an intellectual disability, if they are lucky, receive funding for a few hours of respite care which may allow them and their child some critical support and augment the constant care they need to provide.
In theory, families can apply for Passport funding which began in 2006 and is intended for community supports for adults who have disabilities. But there is a waiting list. And it is long, very long and not moving. And if their child is attending school, they aren't eligible for home- or community-based supports from Passport.
Ministry statistics are reported to show combined waiting lists for SSAH and Passport across the province at close to 12,300. For SSAH alone there are 6,657 families of young children waiting for support, a waiting list that has grown from zero in just four years.
That means there are no funds for any services, no funds for any support for the constant care families provide. More and more families are reaching a breaking point. We have no doubt that there will be more children who have an intellectual disability who are abandoned. Parents feel they have no choice.
The crisis is compounded by that fact that as parents age, their ability to support their adult children who have severe disabilities becomes more and more difficult. Aging parents are developing their own health issues and simply not as able to care for their adult children. A recent study by the Institute of Disability and Human Development showed a 10 per cent higher incidence of chronic health conditions by older caregivers of adults who have an intellectual disability. Community Living Ontario, representing 114 Community Living associations across the province, calls on the Ontario government to provide an immediate infusion of funds to ensure families of continued support of their children through the critical transition from childhood to adulthood and to help individuals and families who just cannot cope any longer.
We also urge the Ontario government to establish a long-range strategy for eliminating the huge backlog of unmet need. We call on government to establish the select committee on developmental disability that the legislature agreed to on September 20.
SOURCE: Community Living Ontario
For further information:
Sheila Kirouac 416 - 447 4348 x 223
Interim Communications Director
Community Living Ontario