Advocacy is in our Name!

Barb Goode with PLAN’s Family Advocate, Jule Hopkins

For nearly 29 years, PLAN has partnered with hundreds of families and people with disabilities to achieve two important goals:

  • To empower people with disabilities to live good lives as part of the community, surrounded by caring, healthy and supportive relationships.
  • To give parents peace of mind about the future, knowing their sons and daughters with disabilities will be safe and secure for the rest of their lives.

The model our founders created has since inspired dozens of other family groups around the world to take action in their own communities. As a socially innovative organization, we’ve also had to adapt to constantly changing realities for people with disabilities and their families.

Planning and maintaining good lives includes many elements, and many different people. It also requires high levels of innovation and demands fast-paced decision-making. As Parents and Caregivers are aging, this can feel particularly daunting.  But with the advocacy and support of knowledgeable people and active, engaged support from caring friends and relationships, it is possible to develop a dynamic and solid plans to ensure people with disabilities are living good lives, and families are feeling the peace of mind as they look to the future.

As a family-led organization, PLAN operates by listening to the changing needs of families and responding by working together to create appropriate solutions.  In 2016, in response to a steadily increase in the number of complex and challenging situations that families found themselves in, we created the role of Family Advocate.  PLAN’s Family Advocate helps families to mobilize their formal and informal networks to navigate information, eligibility and processes across multiple government ministries, service providers, legal professionals, health professionals and others involved in caring and supporting our loved ones.

Here are three samples of families sharing how their lives have been impacted by the support of PLAN’s Family Advocate: 

  1. “Now I can be more involved in the support and planning for my brother. For years, there have been bureaucratic processes blocking this from happening. PLAN helped me to understand the systems, talk to the right people and know what to say.”
  2. “Our family is having a very difficult time finding a suitable apartment for our daughter in Vancouver that is also within her (and our) price range. The apartment needs to be accessible and on the first floor of the building, and also accommodate her support staff. PLAN has helped us to get connected to a very supportive service provider, and is also helping to navigate the system of getting the funding that we need. The Team at PLAN are our “go-to people!”
  3. “We know that in the future, our son will need to move out to an apartment of his own. Since he is not eligible for CLBC funding, PLAN is helping us getting connected to other people and groups who are in a similar situations as we are. We appreciate that they always provide us with information and options, and that they regularly check-in to see if there is anything else that we

Since the role of Family Advocate is not covered by Membership and Network Development fees, we also had to figure out how to fund this important role.  In November 2016, PLAN applied for financial support from BC Lottery and Casino revenues, otherwise known as the Community Gaming Grant. This Grant program distributes funds from commercial gambling revenues to not-for-profit community organizations throughout BC.  Unfortunately, we were informed that exclusively membership-based programs such as Lifetime Membership are not eligible. At that time, PLAN was given a one-time grant of $25,000 and a recommendation to broaden our community impact in order to become eligible in the future.

With the support of PLAN’s Board and family leadership committees, this led us to expand the non-membership based Planning Network that was created in 2015 and increase the support and availability of the Family Advocate.   The Planning Network is a group of families who need the support and expertise of PLAN, but aren’t ready for the full commitments of Lifetime Membership. This is a low cost way to provide support to more people, and an opportunity to invite younger families to be involved with PLAN. It includes an annual future planning consultation with our Family Advocate, as well as monthly conversations with family experts in legal, financial and personal planning.   

On the basis of these changes and the broad based community impact that we are achieving, in November 2017, PLAN applied for funding from BC Lottery and Casino revenues to support the Family Advocate role. In February 2018, our application was approved and we were awarded with a generous grant towards the costs associated with the Family Advocate role.

We are truly grateful for this much needed support and to all of the coordinated efforts of Lifetime Members, Families and the PLAN Team for their work in making this happen!