Family Managed Supports as a Funding Option – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Alberta has two funding options provided by its Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program to supports adults with developmental disabilities – Family Managed Supports (FMS) funding and contracted funding where the government contracts with service providers to provide supports.
Family Managed Supports (FMS) is the funding option where families receive funding directly to employ their own staff in providing supports to their family member with developmental disabilities. In rare instances FMS funding can be used by a family to contract for supports from a service provider (agency). Families can choose to have FMS funding to support one area of their family member’s life, such as supports at home and contracted supports for another area of life, such as employment. Thousands of Alberta families have been using FMS funding for decades.
Family Managed Supports (FMS) is a funding option available through Alberta’s Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) Program
An adult with developmental disabilities must first be determined eligible for PDD prior to applying for FMS. When approved for FMS, families are accountable for the proper use of the funds and the provision of supports to their family member. Most families that have had funding from Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) for their children with disabilities will already be familiar with receiving funding directly from the government and hiring their own staff. However, the eligibility criteria for FSCD and PDD are very different and not every child with disabilities who was eligible for FSCD will be eligible for PDD.
Why would I want to choose to use FMS?
Some families feel it is important to have a primary role in directing the supports and services their family member requires. With FMS funding, families are directly involved in all decisions related to the supports for their family member. The family is able to plan and pursue inclusive pathways that may include such areas of an inclusive life as continuing or post-secondary education, employment, recreation, community involvement and a home of one’s own. Families can individually tailor and personalize supports based on the uniqueness of their family member with developmental disabilities.
How do I know that FMS is the right choice for my family member and my family?
There is no absolute way of deciding if FMS is the best choice for your family member or your family but here are some things to consider to help you in making this decision:
- Do you have a vision of a meaningful life for your family member that you want to see fulfilled?
- Do you have an understanding of the type and amount of support (natural and paid) your family member needs?
- Would you like the supports for your family member to be personalized and individually tailored to meet their needs?
- Would you like your family member to be more engaged in their community and in relationships with other people in the community?
- Are you interested in knowing more about hiring and supervising staff?
- Do you want to have a role in the planning the day-to-day supports for your family member?
- Are you open to learning how to manage the financial and administrative responsibilities for which help is available?
If you answer yes to the majority of these questions, then FMS is likely a good choice for you and your family member to consider. If you answer yes to about half of these questions, further exploration about FMS is probably a good idea.
Who will train the staff that I hire?
As you know your family member best, most of the information about how staff can best support the individual will come from the family. There are also training opportunities families can encourage their staff to participate in. The Darrell Cook Family Managed Supports Resource Centre periodically provides educational opportunities for families and/or their staff. Other workshops are provided by Inclusion Alberta or other organizations/agencies.
For more about hiring staff once you have FMS funding, click to see our directory.
What are my responsibilities when using Family Managed Supports funding?
Once you sign a FMS funding agreement with PDD you are responsible for creating, managing and monitoring the supports for your family member and accounting for the money received from PDD. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Developing the plan for how supports will be provided for your family member.
- Implementing quality supports that nurture the vision for your family member’s life.
- Hiring, supervising, directing, training, and paying staff or agencies that you contract with. (payroll can be managed by a payroll company if you prefer)
- Monitoring the supports and plans for the individual to ensure they are effective in reaching the stated goals and vision.
- Managing the funds received from PDD by paying staff and submitting the invoices
- Participating in training sessions, as required by PDD.
- Meeting the obligations of the PDD funding agreement.
What steps are necessary to apply for FMS funding?
It might be helpful to remember that thousands of families in Alberta are already using Family Managed Supports, have been for decades and many of these families are willing to share their knowledge and experience with you. You can meet or talk with one or more of them to learn about the pros and cons of FMS through our Resource Centre.
First and foremost, your family member with developmental disabilities must be PDD eligible. This is done by applying to PDD for eligibility. If your family member is not found eligible you may appeal this decision. The Resource Centre assist families in applying for eligibility and Inclusion Alberta will assist in appealing, if necessary.
Having determined eligibility, the next step is to create or clarify the vision of a good life in community for the individual with developmental disabilities. If this vision is one that can be best achieved by FMS, a plan has to be developed which includes the staffing requirements and associated costs. The Resource Centre can assist with of all of these steps and PDD can provide assistance as well.
The plan is then submitted to PDD for approval. PDD has to approve both the ability to manage FMS as well as the plan and its costs. As before, if PDD does not provide approval, then steps can be taken to resolve this, or an appeal can be filed.
The Darrell Cook Family Managed Supports Resource Centre is here to guide you through the entire process and provide support with managing FMS when approved.
How do I pay for work-related expenses for my staff (e.g., WCB, health benefits, mileage, admissions to activities, etc.)?
When you hire staff, you are required to ensure Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI) and, usually, Workers Compensation Board (WCB) and income tax deductions are made. PDD will provide you with the funding to cover these costs. You may use a payroll company to make these calculations for you and/or to forward these necessary payments.
PDD does not provide money for the payment of staff costs associated with mileage, admissions to activities, training or health benefits. These costs will need to be paid using other funds. If your family member is receiving Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), this can be used to pay for admissions and mileage.
There may be other avenues that can be explored depending on personal circumstances.
Can I hire a family member to provide the support to my son/daughter?
PDD does not permit the hiring of a family member except in highly unusual circumstances. If you are considering hiring a member of your family, you will be required to apply for an exemption to PDD policy.
How do I pay for costs associated with my role in managing the supports for my family member (e.g., having a bank account, criminal record checks for staff, etc.)?
PDD will advance funds equivalent to two months of your approved FMS budget at the start of your funding agreement to ensure you have funds to pay staff.
PDD will pay for costs related to the management of FMS for your family member, such as:
• Payroll services (e.g., Ceridian, ADT)
• Banking fees (monthly service charges)
PDD does not pay for costs related to the management of FMS for your family member, such as:
• Criminal record checks
• Office supplies (paper, office equipment, phone services, photocopying, etc.)
• Admission to activities
• Administration fees for the supports