Martha, George and Matthew Fox, Dundas
Re: Families are dismayed by funds refusal, Sept. 26
Thank you, Craig Campbell of Hamilton Community News for the article highlighting the ongoing challenges of the families of 20 individuals with developmental disabilities trying to create a community home in the Hamilton area. Parents and families of these individuals have worked tirelessly, for the lifetimes of their adult children, to create “communities” for them. These communities include their bosses and co-workers in their workplaces, peers in their volunteer sites, their friends in Special Olympics and a myriad of other “communities” of friends. Each one of these 20 individuals is an integral part of their communities, loved and appreciated.
As parents and families, we are determined to see that our adult children have the opportunity to remain in their home community with choice about where they live, with whom they live and how they spend their lives, particularly when we, the parents, are no longer here to care for them and support their choices.
Minister Ted McMeekin has said the ministry funds smaller group homes of four to eight residents, usually within neighbourhoods that support and work with the residents. What he didn’t say is that the group homes are not in the communities of the individuals who live in them, that an individual in a group home often loses parental/family/community involvement and the opportunity to make their own choices.
Can you imagine Minister McMeekin suggesting to the Dundas Living Centre families that ideas for community housing need to be “innovative, out of the box and entrepreneurial” and then dismissing a cost-effective model for a community home that is exactly that?
Can you imagine the current provincial need of residential support for more than 15,000 individuals with disabilities being met by “small group homes of four to eight residents” and the unbelievable operational costs of that model?
Can you imagine the Sisters of St. Joseph, or the female students of Columbia International College referring to their home at 574 Northcliffe, as “remote”, “an institution” or “having an institutional culture?” — all quotes from Minister McMeekin.
Can you imagine Minister McMeekin saying that this group of 20 individuals “can’t simply jump the queue because they have an outside the box idea?” This group of 20 individuals are all, “in the queue” and have registered assessments through the Developmental Services Office. One of the choices for residential support as outlined in the Ministry of Community and Social Services document, Application for Developmental Services and Supports (ADSS) is the option of “innovative residential supports”. Is this option not exactly what is being requested?
This is not an issue only for the families of these 20 individuals. This is a community issue — one which should generate outrage and vigorous response.