Guest Blog: This blog entry was contributed by the Developmental Disabilities Association’s Assistant Director of Family Support Services, Terry Schenkel.
A few weeks back, Community Living BC (CLBC) Vancouver hosted an information fair so parents and others could meet service providers and ask questions. Parents were provided with a list of questions to ask service providers so a ‘shopping’ around experience could occur. The event was held at the Holiday Inn on West Broadway and the banquet room was well suited to the purpose. A variety of medium to large organizations displayed brochures and explained mission statements, program scopes and eligibility. My table was busy most of the four hour event – not five people deep- but a continuous stream of people with questions and curiosities cam by and said hello. While CLBC intended the event to be for families with no services, the majority of people I met had CLBC services and are connected with me through the Family Support & Advocacy program. Some people even had a CLBC Facilitator they knew by name.
So was the event a success? Service providers networked and had a chance to chat about our respective organization’s services and focus. Professional relationships were rekindled with some people I haven’t seen in years. But did families with no CLBC services get the ‘shopping’ experience? I don’t think so. Most families would be unable to attend. Why were they unable to attend? Because parents or others are responsible for the care and support to their loved ones at home; and with no supports or services, how do they have alternate caregivers for even a few hours to leave the house?
Sadly though, even if a parent did manage to attend, unless CLBC has approved funding, the ‘shopping’ experience was an exercise of meet and greet. How can a family member seriously consider a service provider’s profile and offerings with no money to access them?
Overall, Community Living professionals networked, families with supports came to find out about additional supports and the families with no services left with the question “how does my son or daughter get access without approved funding?” Good question.
Perhaps the next info fair can be for families with preapproved funding so the ‘shopping’ experience can be genuine.