Frequently Asked Questions
What is LIGHTS?
LIGHTS is a unique program which has been created by community leaders in partnership with Community Living Toronto to assist individuals with an intellectual disability and their family to envision and plan an alternative living arrangement outside the family home. LIGHTS offers support, guidance and an opportunity for individuals and families to meet other like-minded families and develop partnerships with them.
Who is eligible to be involved?
LIGHTS applicants must:
- have an intellectual disability and be eligible for supports in the developmental services sector as assessed through Developmental Services Ontario -Toronto Region (DSOTR). Visit www.dsontario.ca for more information.
- be at least 18 years of age.
- live within and be seeking residential opportunities within the city of Toronto.
- along with their families, want to connect with other families and individuals.
- want to explore future living arrangements, options and partnerships.
- be willing to develop a comprehensive plan/budget.
- be prepared to self manage a living situation.
What is the process an individual and family will go through?
Every individual and family’s journey may look a little different. Some will spend more time in some areas than others and that’s ok! The process is designed to be flexible and move at the individual’s and family’s pace.
Individuals and families can expect to meet with the LIGHTS Facilitator to review their eligibility and go through an initial consultation. Person-Directed planning is typically the next step and the facilitator will explain what the options are in this area. It’s never too early to be thinking about who you might live with so the Facilitator will gather information about the individual and assist you to meet potential housemates. Planning is ongoing and budgeting for a new living arrangement is an important next step. When a match is made, the details of the partnership need to be worked out and a plan for everyone to move into their new home should be thought out carefully to ensure success.
What supports are available to me through LIGHTS?
Individuals and families can access support around Person-Directed planning, budgeting, networking and partnership development. LIGHTS funding is available to those eligible or who require some interim funding to get a living arrangement off the ground. LIGHTS will support and guide individuals and families through the many options and decisions they will face as they take this journey. LIGHTS will continue to support individuals and families after a new living arrangement has been created and can be accessed whenever necessary for questions or guidance.
What is Person-Directed Planning?
Person-Directed planning is where a person tells us about his/her hopes and dreams. Through a facilitated process, it looks at the supports necessary for
success and the actions required so that a person has every opportunity to achieve his or her goals. While the individual person directs and owns the plan, it is often helpful that they have people who know him/her best present to support the process. Such an approach highlights the importance of the person taking the lead on the plan, deciding what is most important to that person, and what the future could look like. There are a variety of resources available for more information such as www.ConnectAbility.ca or www.communitylivingtoronto.ca to name just a few.
Why does my family member need to have a Person-Directed plan to be involved in LIGHTS?
LIGHTS is grounded in the core values of Community Living Toronto and Person-Directed planning and approaches are imbedded in those values. Planning provides the individual with a voice and is a tool to bring the important people in that person’s life together to create positive change. It builds on current relationships and develops an action plan to bring the person closer to his or her dream. Planning takes a holistic approach initially looking at the various aspects of the person – what they like to do, whom they like to spend time with, what’s important to them and what their dreams and aspirations are for the future. Further planning digs a little deeper and creates a more detailed plan for where they would like to live, with whom and what it will take to make it happen. Planning is key to know what the goal is and what steps are necessary to get everyone there.
How long will it take to create a living arrangement outside our family home for my son/daughter?
There is no definitive answer for this: it will be different for everyone! Many things will affect the time it takes to create a living arrangement outside the family home; for example, an individual’s and/or family’s readiness to make this move; finding the right housemate; or developing a partnership with other families that is agreeable to all.
What do you mean by families must be willing to “self-manage” the living arrangement?
LIGHTS will support families in creating living arrangements and where agreed upon, supervise the support provided to the individuals living together in partnership with the families. The intention is that individuals and families go into partnership with each other and share the responsibility of making sure that their family member’s needs and household needs are taken care of on a daily basis.
This is what “self-manage” ultimately means. LIGHTS, as a supportive partner, will encourage individuals and families to discuss and collectively decide what they want and need, and how they will work together to make it happen.
Who would hire the caregiver or support?
During planning and while developing the budget, this very question is explored. Families have options. If families would like an agency to manage the staffing component, LIGHTS would assist them in determining how much support is required and then the family would need to approach the agency of choice to discuss if they would be willing to partner with them and provide the needed supports. If so, LIGHTS would work with the agency to include the cost of the supports in their budget.
Managing the staffing piece on their own is an option for families as well. There are families who recruit from their networks, interview, hire, train and supervise in partnership with other families who find it rewarding and can do so within their budget. LIGHTS is available for consultation if the families would like that type of support.
Could we hire Community Living Toronto staff?
Yes – this is definitely an option. Community Living Toronto has been providing individualized supports for over 13 years and is well versed in providing custom tailored supports, working closely with families and supporting people’s right to choose, and directing their support needs. If families would like to explore this option, they should discuss the details with the Senior Facilitator for LIGHTS.
Other agencies may also offer this service; families would need to check with the agency of choice to find out how they would be able to support.
Is LIGHTS funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services?
Community Living Toronto is receiving funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, supporting the LIGHTS Senior Facilitator position. Interim funding that is made available to the individuals and families is provided from the many generous donations received from local corporations, foundations and the private sector, all who support the vision of LIGHTS.
I’m worried that our family doesn’t have the financial resources to help our family member live outside our family home. Can LIGHTS help?
The Facilitator will help families develop a budget, examining the resources that the individual currently has and what future expenses would be in a new living arrangement. Through the budgeting process, the Facilitator will determine what the funding gap is and will discuss with the family how they could contribute to narrowing that gap. The Facilitator can also discuss the individual and family’s eligibility for LIGHTS funding and the process to apply for it. In addition, LIGHTS can provide families with contact information of professionals who can help them financially plan for their future – even on very tight budgets!
Where does the money come from that LIGHTS gives to families?
Money has been generously donated to LIGHTS from various corporations, banks, foundations and the private sector through the dedicated efforts of the LIGHTS Advisory Board, a volunteer board of individuals who have a personal interest in helping with people an intellectual disability.
How long can we receive LIGHTS funding?
Families who receive funding can reapply annually for LIGHTS funding for up to five years. If an individual receives government residential funding, LIGHTS funding comes to an end so that LIGHTS can help other families.
Do the families have to contribute financially to LIGHTS and if so, how much?
If there is a need to request funding from LIGHTS, families are asked to contribute a minimum of 20% of the funding gap.
Do families have to report funding from LIGHTS as income on their income tax?
We understand from a variety of sources that there is not a simple, straight forward answer to this question and much like other aspects of LIGHTS, it’s all very individualized. We suggest discussing your particular situation with the Facilitator and/or an accountant.
Do people donate houses to LIGHTS?
No one has donated a house to LIGHTS as of yet. If someone was interested in gifting a home to LIGHTS, they should contact the Public Relations and Fundraising Department at Community Living Toronto to discuss this possibility.
The person to speak to is Angela Bradley at 647-729-1178.
How many houses do you have running?
LIGHTS and Community Living Toronto don’t “run” or own the houses but we do support the individuals and families who have partnered together to self-manage the living arrangements. The families rent or own the home in which the individuals live, be it a house, condominium or apartment.
How do you match people with potential room mates?
Individuals and families are asked to fill out a form called “Getting To Know Me”. This is the primary tool used to gather information which can be shared with other individuals and families such as common interests, hobbies, the desire to live in a specific neighbourhood, etc. Moving forward, we hope to enable individuals and families to connect with other like-minded individuals by visiting Connected Families, a site within www.connectability.ca..
How many room mates do you have to have?
Individuals and families will have to examine what they would like and how many would make sense for the individual, as well as the financial implications. Living with others does enable individuals to share common living expenses and can make living on one’s own much more manageable.
When a living arrangement is up and running, is that the end of LIGHTS support?
Not at all! LIGHTS will continue on as a supportive partner and will be available to help individuals and families brainstorm, plan, and problem solve situations as they arise. Also, if a family is receiving any LIGHTS funding, there will be regular communication in regards to the funding and re-application for funding if necessary.
What if the living arrangement doesn’t work out and my son/daughter wants to move out?
In the event that a partnership is not working out, and all efforts have been exhausted to resolve the reason for the breakdown, LIGHTS will facilitate the planning process and support the families involved with next steps. If LIGHTS funding is involved, the Facilitator will meet with each family to discuss if the move will affect the level of LIGHTS funding they currently receive. In some cases, it could be that funding may need to be put on hold or adjusted until a new living arrangement or room mate is found. Whatever the case, the Facilitator will guide the individual and family through the options available to them.
What is the future for LIGHTS?
It is our hope that LIGHTS will continue to grow and provide needed support to many more families. It is also our hope to share the blueprint of LIGHTS with other organizations across Canada. There have already been many inquires from other organizations in both rural and urban centers throughout Ontario who want to set up a LIGHTS in their own community.
Our parent group is very interested in hearing more about LIGHTS. Does LIGHTS do presentations to parent groups or organizations?
Yes! Please contact the facilitator at LIGHTS@cltoronto.ca to discuss the possibilities.