August 22, 2003
For immediate release
Minister Releases Evaluation of the Disability Support Program
Health and Social Services
The extensive review and evaluation of the Disability Support Program was conducted by the independent firm of Baker Consulting. The evaluation process included a literature review, program documentation review, focus groups, an administrative data review, expert and key informant interviews, public consultations, file reviews, and a comprehensive telephone survey.
"I want to thank those who participated in the evaluation and review, particularly the participants of the Disability Support Program and their families," said the Minister. "Generally, the feedback from the evaluation was positive. These are extensive reports, and it will take us a few months to study them in more detail."
Minister Ballem also thanked the Evaluation Reference Group who made recommendations on the evaluation process. The group, consisting of representatives of provincial disability organizations and individuals with expertise in evaluation, recommended that the evaluation deadline remain flexible, that the telephone survey be edited for plain language and that focus groups be held for people with intellectual disabilities who may not have been able to participate in the telephone survey. Each of these recommendations were followed.
In a press conference this morning, Minister Ballem announced that the age of independence, for which family income is considered, will be reduced from 25 years of age to 18, effective immediately. This program change means that parental adjusted net income will not be considered in determining the amount of contribution required for people with disabilities over the age of 18.
Cost of this change is anticipated to run to about $700,000 and will affect about 10% of program participants.
Prince Edward Island was the first province in Canada to fully separate the provision of disability-related supports from social assistance programming through the Disability Support Program. There are more than 950 individuals and families receiving supports from this program.
"When this new service delivery was implemented in October 2001, we said we would evaluate the program within two years," said Minister Ballem. "It is important that we continually seek feedback for any program, to ensure the program design best suits the needs of the clients it is designed to serve."
Minister Ballem also announced the creation of a new Ministerial Advisory Group to advise government. "Self-advocates, family members and service providers will be asked to join together in this community partnership and to provide advice and recommendations on issues concerning people with disabilities," said Minister Ballem. "Membership will be determined by a solicitation/nomination process which will ensure a balanced geographic distribution. The Terms of Reference for this group are to be determined in the near future."
Minister Ballem pointed out that the evaluation process, the change to the age consideration and the establishment of the Ministerial Advisory Group are initial steps in the development process.
"Our program is strong and we will build on those identified strengths, while working with the community and participants to pave the way for future development," he said. "The program will continue to be evaluated in the future."
Minister Ballem spoke about the efforts the department will be making to encourage open communication with the community. A new Web site for the Disability Support Program was launched this morning on the provincial government Web site. This new Web site includes an Island Focus video, the program brochure and handbook in both English and French, the DSP policy manual and program forms, PDF versions of the two reports which were released today and a highlights document based on the reports. The Web site can be accessed at www.gov.pe.ca/peidsp