The Ontario Independent Facilitation Network has grown out of the collective vision of independent facilitators, people who have a developmental disability/self-advocates and families, coming together in conversation, shared learning, mentoring and building a principled context for the work of independent facilitation.
There has been a great deal of work done in Ontario over the last two decades to help people come to appreciate and to understand the value of ongoing independent facilitation and planning in the lives of people and families living with disabilities. The policy and advocacy work of the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario (IFCO) alongside their family and community engagement strategies has contributed immensely to this broader awareness.
In the late nineties, IFCO held two large events aimed at bringing together national and provincial leaders and international experts on individualized funding. These events acted as a catalyst for families to think differently about what they wanted to see happen. As a follow-up to these events, as part of their ‘Community Engagement strategies” IFCO held a provincial two day event in 2004 that was called “Workfest”. The Workfest acted as a major impetus for bringing families and independent facilitators together from across the province to reflect on and expand the work.
Between 2005-2006, an Ad Hoc Working Group of identified leaders in facilitation from across the province developed a Terms of Reference from which these efforts would evolve. Beginning in 2007, IFCO hosted three informal gatherings aimed at bringing together people who were passionate about independent facilitation including those that were actively offering independent facilitation to explore a shared vision and common agenda. Following these events, IFCO took a lead role in obtaining an Ontario Trillium Foundation multi-year grant (Modelling Community Change- 2008-2010) focused on using a community development approach to expanding independent facilitation options across Ontario. During this time, the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network continued mobilizing interest across the province and clarifying their role in shaping the practice and defining the values and principles. In 2010 the Network adopted a community of practice approach to organizing itself.
Throughout OIFN’s history, IFCO’s continued research and jurisdictional reviews taught us about the importance of a citizenship based model of support – one where people living with disability live full lives as citizens, with valued human rights, directing and making decisions with support. Research demonstrated the role of individualized funding in helping those living with disability having more choice and control in their lives. The idea of a citizenship model based on human rights, self-determination, and more choice and control was first documented by IFCO in Individualized Funding, A Vision for the Future from the 1998 Symposium, written by Catherine Frazee. As well, research from Ontario, also sponsored by IFCO, taught us the importance of infrastructure supports for individualized funding (like ongoing facilitation and planning) and the need to be ongoing and independent of the direct service system.
(See the following two reports: Linking Individualized Supports and Direct Funding, Making Money Work for People, A Pathway to Self-Determination and Community Involvement for People with Disabilities, [Report of the Roundtable]; Moving Toward Citizenship: A Study of Individualized Funding in Ontario.)
|2004||IFCO Workfest||Action Step: the vision for ‘connecting as facilitators’ is birthed. A commitment is made to form a working group of facilitators and develop a Terms of Reference.|
|2004/2005||Ad Hoc Working Group||A Terms of Reference is developed through a series of teleconferences and meetings.|
|2005/2006||Laying the ground Work; Gathering Information||Three facilitator forums hosted by the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario (IFCO) gather information and obtain more clarity about the value of facilitation and what families, individuals and independent facilitators deem would be helpful into the future. The importance of developing a Provincial Network and Community of Practice was identified as one of the goals for the future, as was the importance of linking with local facilitation networks that were starting to develop.|
|2007-2010||Moving Forward with a Provincial Network and regular forums||Work was built upon the information gathered 05/06. Volunteers with IFCO began work on a proposal for funding and on partnerships. With support from the Modeling Community Change and Innovation project to build capacity provincially through forums, partners and volunteers committed to working on evolving the Community of Practice.|
|2011 – 2012||Growing, Strengthening, Learning and Expanding Connections||Volunteers, sponsors, and partners continued their commitment to grow and strengthen the Network after the MCCI project funding ended by holding forums and finding ways to link and network between events. The name Ontario Independent Facilitation Network, although used informally since the year 2009, was officially adopted along with the logo in 2011. Learning and sharing continued; energy and excitement grew, as did the need for more volunteer involvement and networking. A call went out to join the Ad Hoc Website Committee.|
|2013||Planning for the Future, OIFN to Expand its Reach||Early in 2013: The development of a website began with a launch planned for spring of 2013. Two strategic planning days were held. Acting on priorities identified by participants/ members, the future will include: expanding connections and linkages to local and regional groups; supporting the practice of independent facilitation provincially; addressing gaps; proposal writing; governance and shared leadership. Additional Ad hoc working groups formed to take on priority projects.|