(a walk down mid-town Toronto’s beltline path…)
Among us parents of children with disabilities who qualify for government support, there are several hot topics that come up in conversation – even when we’ve just met. The biggest one, always asked with a slight hesitation, is ‘How much are you getting?’. I think the hesitation comes from a hope that it’s not more than what the asker is getting! Not because of schadenfreude really, but because we want to know that we’re receiving our maximum allowance… The other hesitation is from our society’s taboo about asking about money.
I actually considered revealing what my funding dollars are but no, I won’t. Instead, here’s what I’m comfortable revealing: number of hours for specific programs, and other programs I access for funding support. Most of us know all of these programs anyway, but for those of you new to the game, maybe there’s something here for you. If some of it sounds confusing, that’s because it is. I would be happy to clarify any of these items in email correspondence. And if I’ve missed anything, do let me know!!
- CCAC allotted respite hours: 11 hours/week
- Special Services at Home + Respite Enhancement Funding**: 7 hours/week
- Home Schooling funding (provided through the Ministry of Health, which is somehow accessing allocated funds from the Ministry of Education. Contract provided by CCAC***): 6 hours a day for every school day
Average weekly (prorated over a year): 42 hours/week
Other Funding Programs:
- Easter Seals’ Incontinence Supplies Grant Program
- Easter Seals’ Recreational Choices Program
- Easter Seals’ Top-up Funding Program (application sent, not receiving yet)
- Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities
- Child Tax Benefit (for children with disabilities)
* Each program has its own contract and invoicing system. I am required to account for these hours and have the forms signed by the workers. I pay the support workers bi-weekly then receive reimbursement from the specific program through automated deposit. I always pay the workers exactly what is dictated by the program and believe in full transparency. To ensure fairness, I have chosen to not employ certain workers under certain contracts (each contract is for a different hourly amount!). Instead, I have divided the hours in the day by program (for example, 9am-3pm falls under the homeschooling program). When I pay each worker, we see which hours were worked when, and I pay them accordingly. In some cases, the program pays the worker directly after I’ve accounted for the hours. Schedules vary week to week so it’s a bit of a hassle, but it’s the only way to ensure I am fairly allocating funds and also honouring the intent of the various programs. I should add that I pay privately for an additional 5-10 hours a week, depending on my family’s needs. Owen’s father and I share the expense of this added cost.
**Wow. There is virtually no information online about this program. Ask your CCAC caseworker. This funding is for medically-complex children who also have some kind of technology dependency.
***Follow the provided link and scroll down to the section called “Support Services Offered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care”, which provides a lame description of the support. It works like this: Homeschooling is now ‘legal’ in Ontario. Homeschooled children have the right to access certain services that are available to school children – personal support for special needs being one of them. Because none of the Ministries have a mechanism to fulfill the program requirements of the homeschooling legislation, I was required to find a community agency willing to act as a flow-through funder. I work with a lovely group here in Toronto (who will remain nameless) who graciously agreed to sign the contracts and write the cheques. I invoice them, and they invoice the Ministry program. They receive a small fee for their administrative work. I sign two contracts: one between CCAC, the Ministry of Health and myself, and the other between myself, the support worker and the community agency.