Common Misunderstandings

What Some Families Hear

Inclusion Alberta staff have encountered these misunderstandings when working with families who choose FMS and in advocacy situations. The responses are Inclusion Alberta’s view of the correct understanding of FMS policy and good practice.

All families should hear –from other families and in their meetings with PDD staff– that FMS is a flexible, individualized option open to any family of a person who is PDD eligible and wants to direct their supports; that the purpose of FMS is to support a meaningful community life; that PDD staff will be helpful in approving an Individual Support Plan that thoughtfully takes account of each person’s goals and circumstances and in allocating sufficient FMS to pursue goals consistent with their vision; and that PDD staff will assist families to meet their responsibilities to PDD.

Some families hear: FMS is too hard to do and, in the end, not worth the effort

Many families, in many different situations, have used FMS to pursue creative and individualized options for their family member and have done so for decades. They find it worth the effort, especially when they are informed and encouraged through connections with other families using FMS through Inclusion Alberta.

Some families hear: Families must choose between FMS and being served by approved service providers.

Families can choose to combine FMS with supports from service providers. They can use FMS funding for all the support their family member needs or have a service provider provide some supports. For example, a family may use FMS for support at home and for participation in community life and an agency for employment supports.

Some families hear: FMS is not the right option for your family.

PDD should offer the FMS option to any family with an eligible member that chooses to enter an FMS Agreement. There are very few situations in which a family would not be a good candidate for FMS.

Some families hear: FMS will not work for your family member. They must be served in a group setting operated by an approved service provider.

Families can choose FMS funded supports to pursue individualized pathways for their family member. No one needs to be served in a group. PDD staff are responsible for working with the family to develop an Individual Support Plan that is consistent with the family’s vision and plan for individualized support and community inclusion.

Some families hear: FMS is about service provision.

Families who make the best of FMS plan innovative supports, unique to their family member. They use FMS as one source of funding for the supports a person needs to live a rich and meaningful community life.

Some families hear: Their family member must have a legal guardian to access FMS.

Families are not required to apply for guardianship and a person does not need a guardian to use FMS. Regardless of guardianship status or degree of disability, FMS funds support adults to enable a job, a successful home life and participation in community life.

Some families hear: People with similar disability labels all receive the same amounts of FMS funding.

Each person’s funding must be based on the personal goals and needed supports identified in the FMS agreement, not on what others with similar labels receive. The FMS agreement reflects what’s necessary to realize each family’s distinctive vision of an inclusive life.

Some families hear: Family members with the skills to do many things for themselves can only receive minimal FMS funding.

Support needs must be considered on a person-by-person basis depending on the individual impact of the person’s impairments on their ability to realize their vision of a good life in community.

Some families hear: A person must have a Home Care assessment before applying for FMS.

FMS and Home Care are separate programs, funded separately by different departments for different purposes. Some people who use FMS meet health care needs through Alberta Health funded Home Care. However,there is no reason to put a Home Care assessment on the path ahead of arranging for FMS to purchase PDD services.

Some families hear: There is a predetermined ceiling on the number of hours of support or amount of FMS funding families can receive.

Budgets are negotiated one person at a time based on individual needs for support to live and work and engage with community. There is no predetermined ceiling on FMS support hours.

Some families hear: FMS can’t pay for more than a set number of staff.

Families throughout the province use FMS to hire the number of staff identified through individual planning as necessary to enable an inclusive life. PDD policy does not set a general limit on staff numbers.

Some families hear: People must demonstrate measurable progress in order to remain eligible for FMS

Some people have the support they need to participate fully in community life without an FMS funded worker focusing on improving their skills. Growth along community pathways happens at its own pace and often in unpredictable ways and support for growth is integral to the community pathways a person follows. Staff member engagement is not necessarily required for a person to find their way. Simply sustaining meaningful participation and preventing deteriorating performance are good reasons to maintain FMS funds.

Some families hear: If FMS funds are underspent, the contracted amount must be reduced.

FMS should take account of individual circumstances and uphold the principle of flexibility without jeopardizing the capacity to adjust to changing needs. Renegotiation and amendment of the FMS agreement is the correct process for changing the amount of FMS FMS, not the imposition of an across the board decrease.

Some families hear: Employment supports are limited to employment preparation and employment supports are time-lined.

Some people’s ability to keep a job and grow in it requires ongoing support. Some individuals require a period of discovery, others benefit from focused effort over time to build co-worker support or expand a person’s career options. These possibilities are considered as the family plans and identifies its approach in the Individual Support Plan. Sufficient FMS to implement the Individual Support Plan are allocated on an individual basis.

Some families hear: Employment supports may be denied because Inclusion Alberta’s Rotary Employment Partnership is involved with the family.

FMS support for individuals in the workplace does not depend on how an employment opportunity was developed. FMS can fund support for people who already have a job no matter how the job was created.

Some families hear: The transition in funding from FSCD (Family Support for Children with Disabilities) to PDD and FMS is seamless.

In fact, many families find the transition complicated if not difficult. Families with FSCD contracts need to contact and apply to PDD before their family member turns 18. Many families say this is an important time to seek support and advice from other Inclusion Alberta families.

Some families hear: FMS funded services are portable if the person moves to another PDD region.

FMS is administered on a regional basis and regional practices vary. PDD policy says that PDD staff in the new region will make comparable supports available wherever possible. This applies whether supports are FMS funded or not. In doing this they will consider any changes in identified support needs, available generic services or natural supports.

Some families hear: Inclusion Alberta will act as their FMS Administrator.

Organizations can’t act as a persons FMS administrator. The administrator can be a family member, a friend or ally and sometimes –though infrequently– the person with developmental disabilities acts as their own FMS administrator.

Inclusion Alberta supports families in the visioning and planning that is the foundation for support to a good community life, provides resources that assist FMS Administrators to meet their responsibilities, and provides advocacy in some situations. It cannot administer FMS.

Some families hear: Getting an exemption and paying family members for support with FMS funds is a good option.

This option should be avoided. It increases the risk that the person will miss opportunities to broaden their connections to the community and increase their network of relationships.