UPDATE: Oct 2010

1. NOTICE: Oct. 25 Public Forum

Community partners to host a free Public Forum on Monday, October 25, 7 – 9 pm in Vancouver to discuss concerns about community living cuts and service  redesign. 

2. Community groups call on Advocate for Service Quality to intervene

In an unprecedented move, community organizations representing people with disabilities, families, employers and employees  have come together to urge the Advocate for Service Quality to intervene to stop the community living cuts, group home closures and forced relocations. 

The 2009 study cited in the letter, which outlines risks in CLBC’s new informal home sharing (aka pri care or adult foster care) model, can also be read

Update: The Health Sciences Association of BC, which represents some staff in the sector on Vancouver Island, has endorsed the community partners’ letter to Jane Holland. 

Update #2: The Advocate has refused to address the concerns outlined by community partners and referred them to CLBC.

3. Documenting cuts and closures

Community partners are starting to document the impacts of severe cuts and closures taking place across the province as CLBC implements a “service redesign” program that was quietly negotiated last year with its partner agencies in tandem with over $20 million in budget cuts. Neither the adults directly affected or their families were informed or consulted on this “service redesign,” which is now being forcefully imposed across the province, violating key CLBC commitments to involve families and individuals and to respect individual choice.

Cuts reported by community partners and members of the MOMS network include:

  • Group home closures/cuts: Click here for a list of known group home closures and cuts compiled by members of the BCGEU.
  • Craigslist ads: CLBC and members agencies are using Craigslist to recruit home share contractors in numerous communities across the province, offering free rent and easy money to induce individuals – in some cases with no experience or training required – to take over responsibility for caring for adults with developmental disabilities. 
  • Greater Vancouver Community Services Society lost 9.5 full-time postions in its 6 group homes, resulting in decreased staffing levels and loss of community access time for residents, effective  Nov. 15.
  • Powell River Association for Community Living: After a community uproar forced CLBC to reverse the planned closure of the joyce Street group home, the PRACL was forced instead to deliver the planned savings via cuts to its life skills and day programs. 
  • Future Focus: (4 locations in Comox, Courtenay & Campbell River) cutting 2.5 FTE staff. They also plan to cut food budgets and staff safety supplies due to funding constraints (reported by Health Sciences Association of BC)
  • CSIL (former Health Ministry program to provide medical support now folded into CLBC). Families report supports cut from 120 hours a week to 12 hours a week. Others affected are asked to contact MOMS to link with other families to discuss impacts and advocacy.
  • Spectrum Society for Community Living: Family members informed that CLBC is seeking ways to cut services, for example by reducing service hours, changing staffed night support to a roommate model, having a live-in caregiver instead of staff on shifts or moving to a caregiver’s home.

Please email MOMS at  momsonthemove@telus.net if you know of further cuts and/or closures

4. Stats show BC investing a declining share in Community Living

These stats illustrate that BC is spending less on community living than most other North American jurisdictions, relative to our income base. They also show that the proportion spent in the province has been declining, while US spending increased, even under the fiscally-conservative former Bush administration.

5. In the media

  • Oct 10 – CKNW: Radio host Sean Leslie interviewed Andrew Latta, whose sister’s funding was cut by 80%, NDP Critic Shane Simpson and Minister Coleman re concerns over group home cuts. Listen to a recording at this link. Fill in the date (Oct 10) and time (4 pm) to access the recording, then click  “listen”.  The news, etc. will play before the Sean Leslie show begins.
  • Oct 8 – Victoria Times Colonist: Columnist Jody Paterson argues that group home closings are “stupid and cruel.”
  • Oct 4 – Vancouver Sun: Group homes provide lifeline for society’s most vulnerable population
  • Oct 2 – South Asian Link: BC Liberals have quietly begun closing doors on care homes fo rthe disabled
  • Sep 30 – New Wesminster News Leader: Disabled woman forced to leave group home
  • Sep 29 – Powell River Peak: After a family outcry saved the Joyce Avenue group home from closure, CLBC ordered the Powell River Association for Community Living to cut staffing and access to life skills and days programs instead. 
  • Sep 29 – The Province: Victoria’s budget axe forcing group homes to close: critics – 
  • Sep 29 – Coquitlam Now: Group home changes worry family – Opposition says BC Liberals plan to make $22 million worth of cuts – 
  • Sep 29 – Vancouver Sun: Cuts could force disabled out of group homes – woman with Down syndrome will be ‘isolated,’ brother fears
  • Sep 28 – Vancouver Sun: Doug Ward reports on concerns voiced by NDP and families about group home closures.
  • Sep 28 – New Wesminster News Leader: Dawn Black says the Liberals went back on promise to people with disabilities
  • Sep 27 – CKNW: Funding Cuts to impact group homes:NDP

6. Letters to the Minister

Other community organizations add their voices to concerns about service cuts, forced relocation of group home residents, lack of independent oversight/safety risks with cheaper care alternatives and other concerns linked to CLBC’s budget cuts and “service redesign.”

  • BC FamilyNet’s letter to Minister Coleman
  • BC Coalition of People with Disabilities letter to Minister Coleman

7: Sign the petition against group home cuts and forced relocations

Almost 1,000 people have now signed our petition calling on Minister Coleman to stop the cuts targetting adults with developmental disabilities. Thank you for your terrific support! We need to encourage the broader public to join us if we are to send a strong message to Victoria – so please sign the petition and circulate widely. 

8. BCACL/CLBC to head Service Redesign & Quality Assurance Committee

BCACL announced it will co-chair a new “service redesign and quality assurance committee” established by CLBC to address concerns about transparency and consultation re the changes underway.

Update: Sep 13

Investigative reporter Sean Holman has managed to obtain the draft unpublished policy documents that CLBC is using to drive group home closures and forced relocation of their residents to save money.  Here’s a link to his report and to the documents themselves, which he has posted online:

Group thinking

August 27, 2010

Special approval is now required for developmental disabled individuals to receive government-funding to live in a group home, Public Eye has learned. The directive is included in an internal draft policy Community Living British Columbia is using when determining new living arrangements for those individuals, as well as when existing arrangements come up for review.

Here’s how it works: staff score a developmental disabled individual’s needs on a scale of one to five – with one being the lowest level of need and five being the highest. Those who score between one to three qualify for anywhere from one to 21 hours per week of supported living assistance.

Like those with greater needs, those individuals could also quality to share a home with a support worker. But special approval from one of Community Living British Columbia’s four regional operations directors is required for a developmentally disabled individual to qualify to live in a group home – where support is provided by a team that works in 24-hour shifts at the residence.

An accompanying document advises staff the policy is “not available to the public” but can be “shared” with the families of those with developmental disabilities, as well as service providers. 

UPDATE Aug. 13:

We continue to receive extremely disturbing reports from families, staff, agencies and other community advocacy groups about what’s being described as a “vicious” and “clandestine” cost-cutting push to close group homes and relocate current residents to less costly, informal living arrangements.

Three particularly disturbing aspects have emerged: 1) There appears to be great urgency on CLBC’s part to accomplish as many moves and closures as possible over the summer months before families and the public even realize what’s going on; 2) CLBC is ordering service reductions with far-reaching implications based on a draft policy that has not even been  formally approved or announced, raising questions about potential legal challenges; and 3) MCFD has a similar cost-cutting process underway to close children’s group homes and relocate youths with very complex needs to foster care. 

See also a report revealing the children’s closures from the Victoria Times Colonist: Ministry closing children in care homes

July 2010: CLBC’s budget challenges have created extreme pressures on operators to close group homes, with alarming reports of  long-time residents either being forcibly moved or pressured to give up their homes and move into less costly home-sharing arrangements.

Home sharing works very well for some individuals, but is not safe or appropriate for everyone. MOMS is joining other community leaders in calling on CLBC and Minister Rich Coleman to take immediate action to halt these moves and closures and ensure that all placement decisions are made with the welfare and safety of the individual as the paramount consideration, and with families fully involved in all decisions.

We invite concerned individuals, families and providers to share news and updates with MOMS for sharing with the broader community via this page.  Please use the Comments section below to offer suggestions and/or to connect with others to support joint advocacy initiatives.

Sign the Petition to Stop Group Home Cuts

Please sign and circulate widely the link to our online petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/home2010/

Background

There has been constant and often intense pressure to close professionally-staffed group homes for adults with developmental disabilities and reduce the role of unionized care arrangements since 2001. 

Resources

Representation Agreement

A Representation Agreement can empower parents/relatives to act on behalf of an individual. It is very easy and worthwhile thing to do and only costs $50.00 to register. CLBC cannot exclude an authorized representative from any meeting or decision concerning the individual.

Find more information on Representation Agreements

CLBC Complaints policy

Anyone can challenge a CLBC decision by filing a formal complaint. CLBC is required to respond, although this may or may not result in satisfactory resolution. CLBC’s Complaints Resolution Policy includes links to external processes where you can appeal if your concerns remain unresolved. and how to file a formal complaint if you disagree with a CLBC decision can be found here.

Find Complaints forms, Fact Sheets in multiple languages and links to other CLBC policies

Reports & Stats:

Exploring Housing Options for People with Developmental Disabilities in BC

This 2009 research report was produced by the BC Non-profit Housing Association of BC, at the request of a CLBC Housing Working Group. It includes useful data on needs and gaps, and on the challenges associated with the informal residential models that CLBC is now pursuing in its “one-size-fits-all” approach to cut costs.

Queenswood review of the CLBC Service Delivery Model

In 2006-07, the Province undertook a $2 million “Residential Options” review to try to convince group home residents to voluntarily leave their group homes for more informal placements like home sharing. The response was a resounding No! So the province commissioned this external report in 2008 to advise on what else it could try to close group homes and reduce costs of residential care. The Queenswood report essentially advised waiting for existing group home residents to die, while directing new clients to cheaper options. The section starting on Page 95 (PDF page 109) is particularly illuminating.

Home Sharing: A review of current practice and policy with recommendations

This 2008 report by UBC’s Community Living Research Project identified challenges, risks and limitations in the home sharing model that CLBC and Minister Coleman are pushing to replace group homes.

CLBC’s Residential Options Project: Phase One Report

This June 2007 report outlines the results of CLBC’s $2 million program to meet with all existing group home residents to try to convince them to voluntarily move into cheaper residential options. The response was a resounding No! Phase II of the project (interviewing the rest of the adults living in cheaper CLBC-funded housing alternatives to see if they would prefer to move) has never taken place as promised. 

Residential Options for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

This 2006 review of existing literature and studies was undertaken by UBC’s Community Living Research Project to compare relative costs and outcomes for different residential models (group homes, home share etc). The study concluded that the experience of other jurisdictions shows informal models like home sharing offer no savings over group homes when you compare situations involving individuals with similar needs and abilities. (In other words, any savings offered by home sharing would have to come from reducing support levels, which means significantly more risks). 

Stats show BC investing a declining share in Community Living

These stats illustrate that BC is spending less on community living than most other North American jurisdictions, relative to our income base. They also show that the proportion spent in the province has been declining, while US spending increased, even under the fiscally-conservative former Bush administration.