Quick Reference

OIFN Publications List

A summary of available OIFN Publications and Resources, along with links.

OIFN Social Media Links

OIFN is an interconnected network of people who experience developmental disabilities, their family members and loved ones, independent facilitators, and allies.

This list outlines the many ways you can stay connected with our Community of Practice, as we share with and learn from one another about choice, control, and citizenship for all people.


OIFN Publications

Over the years, OIFN has produced many resources to document and share our learning about facilitating change and customizing supports.

Check out the topics below to find information about the practice of Independent Facilitation, the art of social change, and our learnings about people creating an ordinary, everyday life:

Network Updates & Reports

Keep up-to-date with OIFN’s work and find out how the Community of Practice has stayed engaged and connected.

OIFN Virtual Engagement Report 2022OIFN Loooking Back, Moving Forward 2021OIFN Key MessagesBriefing NoteEcosystem For Growing Possibilities: OIFN Vision 2017

OIFN Virtual Engagement Summary Report 2022

Beginning in September 2021 and until April 2022, OIFN gathered feedback from the Community of Practice through a virtual engagement survey, as well as focus group and 1-on-1 conversations.

Following OIFN’s in-depth review of social media and virtual event engagement, we are thrilled to share our Virtual Engagement Summary Report, which outlines the research process, feedback received, and trends and ideas that will inform ongoing, meaningful Community of Practice engagement.

We extend deep gratitude to Joanna Goode, a long-time participant in the OIFN Community of Practice and Director of Facilitation Wellington Dufferin, for her efforts in leading this project as part of her studies in the Master of Leadership and Community Engagement program at York University.

OIFN Looking Back, Moving Forward 2021

Reflections on a year of growth and possibilities for the future.  We hope that this chapter of our story brings you encouragement and inspiration!

OIFN Key Messages

OIFN’s Key Messages document provides a brief introduction to the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network, outlining OIFN’s Vision, Mission, and Core Beliefs.

Briefing Note

Following the provincial election in June 2018, the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network saw an opportunity to contribute to the new government’s perception and understanding of the robust history, current realities, and possible future of Developmental Services.

 Although written with a government audience in mind, this Briefing Note serves as a two-page summary of OIFN’s vision for and possible contributions to the changing landscape of Developmental Services in Ontario, which may be of interest to anyone who may be asking who OIFN is and what OIFN cares about.

An Ecosystem For Growing Possibilities: OIFN Vision Beyond April 2017

OIFN developed a vision for the work of supporting people with developmental disabilities to direct their lives and customize supports that make it possible for them to live as valued citizens and contributing community members. This vision includes interconnected networks that includes: self advocates; families; Independent Facilitators; allies within the Ministry; and service agency allies and people who can provide direct support.

About Independent Facilitation

Independent Facilitation is an ongoing process that supports people to create change. Through conversations over time, people and their family members and/or loved ones are supported to imagine possibilities, make their own choices, think about, plan for, and take steps toward creating the ordinary, everyday lives that they want in their chosen neighbourhoods and communities.

OIFN offers these resources to support people, families, and independent facilitators to become familiar with the capacities, core beliefs, and values related to Independent Facilitation and how to get started and/or continue on the journey.

Scope of PracticeCore ElementsGuide for Ethical ConductQuestions to Ask Your FacilitatorProbing the Edges of WorkWhat Difference Can It Make?Who Can Benefit?Impacts: Charts & InfographicsImpact of a Facilitator

OIFN Scope of Practice of Independent Facilitation

Drawing from learning and from OIFN documents developed over time, this OIFN resource explores the purpose, guiding principles, and work of Independent Facilitation, offering an in-depth look at what it takes and what it means to assist people with disabilities to figure out and build an ordinary, everyday life.

Core Elements of Independent Facilitation

In April 2018, the Board of OIFN and the leads from Independent Facilitation Organizations across the province engaged in dialogue to clarify the heart and core of the work of Independent Facilitation.

OIFN Guide for Ethical Conduct

Independent Facilitation is a non-regulated practice, which means that there is no universally recognized local, regional, or federal authority, regulatory or accrediting body that holds the liability or provides monitoring for independent facilitators.

OIFN offers this Guide for Ethical Conduct, as a resource that outlines some of the safeguards to the practice.  As a self-regulated profession, it is expected that when independent facilitators initially meet with a person, family, and/or significant others, they will review with them the Guide for Ethical Conduct as well as their relevant experience.

Questions to Ask Your Independent Facilitator

Before beginning work with an independent facilitator, OIFN encourages people, along with their loved ones (family members, friends, support circles, other people you trust), to take some time to learn about the facilitator and decide if you think that the facilitator will be a good fit.

OIFN offers these sample questions to assist you to decide if a facilitator has the experience, values, and qualities that are important to you.

When first meeting with a facilitator, you may consider asking some or all of the questions, in order to learn if the facilitator meets your needs before beginning the relationship and getting started on the work.

When beginning the search for a visit, you may also want to review the Getting Started – Things to Consider page.

Are you looking for an Independent Facilitator?
Visit OIFN’s Independent Facilitator Listings to search for available independent facilitators in your area.

Probing The Edges Of The Work Of Independent Facilitation

Independent Facilitators working in the Independent Facilitation Organizations involved with the IFDP, explore what is involved in the work of Independent Facilitation.

What Difference Can Independent Facilitation Make?

Without Independent Facilitation, people who want full, meaningful lives as contributing citizens in their neighbourhoods and communities of their choice are often left to rely on one-size-fits-all services where their goals and dreams are never fully realized.

This series of vignettes offers a glimpse at the role that Independent Facilitation has played in the lives of different people, some of whom received support through crisis situations. Through the trusting relationships build over time with an independent facilitator, people felt supported to make their own decisions and direct their own lives.

When people find their voice and are able to customize their supports, they have the freedom to:

  • Create natural connections in their neighbourhoods and communities
  • Take on valued social roles based on their interests, strengths, and gifts
  • Pursue post-secondary education
  • Strengthen and cultivate new relationships with friends and loved ones
  • Secure innovative housing options, choosing where they live and with whom

Who Can Benefit from Independent Facilitation?

“Independent Facilitation can benefit anyone who is seeking person directed, individualized, community first support. But there are some people for whom this kind of support relationship may be particularly beneficial (Weaving C-35).

Excerpted from OIFN’s Weaving a Story of Change: IFDP Learnings So Far (2017), this graphic offers an overview of the various points in people’s lives where they might benefit from meeting with an independent facilitator.

Impacts of Independent Facilitation – Charts and Infographics

Using OIFN produced research, reports, and Collective Impact data outcomes, the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario (IFCO) and OIFN have produced a number of impact charts that can be helpful for people and families in their presentations and efforts for Independent Facilitation.

​You can also find a graphic showing the different in costs and investment in Independent Facilitation per year, versus group homes, long-term care, homeless shelters and hospital beds, created by the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario.

Impact of an Independent Facilitator

Independent facilitators understand that relationships are central to citizenship in that they have a fundamental impact on our well-being and sense of fulfillment and belonging. In this light, relationship building and embracing social networks are key elements of Independent Facilitation.  Facilitators help people build upon their experience and understanding, deepen existing relationships or find new ones and access or create social networks. This learning is further expanded through the person’s family and the social networks that they participate in. Created by the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario (IFCO), this info-graphic illustrates the building of capacity, connections, relationships, and involvement in community and the ripple effect and impact of Independent Facilitation in supporting citizenship and community contribution.

Citizenship & Social Change

OIFN believes in the rights and decision-making power of all people and envisions a society where people experience full belonging and inclusion in their neighbourhoods and communities.

Here you will find some of our beliefs and ideas about sustainable options and ways for people and families to have choice and control, especially when it comes to their own housing, staffing, direct individualized funding, facilitation, and support resources.

Ordinary, Everyday Life FrameworkPath of InnovationFee for Service Brief

Framework for an Ordinary, Everyday Life

In the Fall of 2017, the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network began to explore the need for a new infrastructure within Developmental Services to support people with developmental disabilities to experience full citizenship.  Drawing from foundational work of other provincial grassroots organizations, OIFN began to use the term Person-directed Infrastructure to articulate this new infrastructure, with Independent Facilitation acting as one key function, along with adequate Individualized Funding; customized, affordable, and accessible housing resources; direct support resources; and administrative resources.

Through consultation with grassroots provincial partners, including members of People First, this framework advanced to include a component on inclusive life-long educational opportunities and was re-titled A Citizen-focused Framework, which infers a set of expectations around freedom, choice, rights, opportunities — and the responsibilities to respect the freedoms, rights, and opportunities of fellow citizens.

Conversations continued and OIFN learned more about what it takes for people to live rich, meaningful lives, which led to the evolution of this Framework for an Ordinary, Everyday Life. 

This framework outlines the foundation for a good life and recognizes the need to invest in opportunities that advance ongoing learning, build experience, and expand skills and knowledge, in order to promote valued roles and contributions within society as a whole.

Foundational References:

Path of Innovation

Exploring the history of Developmental Services in Ontario, the Path of Innovation places the current experiences of people, families, and communities into a broader context of systems change.

OIFN considers the need for a Citizen-focused Framework central to supporting people with developmental disabilities to experience full citizenship. The role of Independent Facilitation in this framework, along with the ideas in the Path of Innovation, help to frame the experiences of people in a historical context, in current realities and sets a path for future social innovation.

Fee For Service Brief

OIFN believes that infrastructure funding is critical to ensure that Independent Facilitation is successful in its implementation and continued evolution towards effective change for Ontario citizens facing a developmental disability, along with their supportive loved ones and families.

 OIFN Policy Statement: OIFN believes citizenship is key to inclusion. OIFN is committed to advancing citizenship for all people. Citizens are free to choose how they will live out the responsibilities of their citizenship. Investing in stable funding for Independent Facilitation supports choice and increases options for people living with developmental disabilities and their loved ones/families. It is an effective option with cost benefit that helps stabilize families and builds positive futures. Stable infrastructure funding will strengthen and expand organizations that provide Independent Facilitation and build the foundation for quality independent facilitators to be trained, supported, and available to people and families throughout Ontario.

Expanding on the values inherent to OIFN’s policy statement, this brief on Fee for Service explores why this approach is not a sustainable model for the availability of Independent Facilitation in Ontario and emphasizes the need for ongoing infrastructure funding, so that there is equitable access to Independent Facilitation and Direct Individualized Funding for all citizens in Ontario who live with developmental disabilities, along with their loved ones.

Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project (2015-2019)

In 2015, the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network (OIFN) received two years of funding for the Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project (IFDP) through the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS), which has since been re-named the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services (MCCSS). The project intended to expand the capacity of Independent Facilitation for people with developmental disabilities across the province and learn more about the benefits of Independent Facilitation.  The project was extended for an additional year in 2017/2018 and again in 2018/2019.  The project formally ended on March 31, 2019.

Throughout this project, we learned a lot about the work of Independent Facilitation, the broader context of Developmental Services, and what it takes to have a rich, meaningful life. Here you will find some of our documented learning.

Weaving A Story of ChangeQ&As: Independent Facilitation & IFDPOIFN Response to Ministry’s IFDP EvaluationIFDP Emerging Community Gatherings

Weaving a story of change: IFDP learning so far

The Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project (IFDP) is a collaboration involving OIFN, seven Independent Facilitation Organizations (IFOs), and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The intent of the IFDP is to explore the possibility of making Independent Facilitation as a viable support option for people with developmental disabilities and the those who love them, as they pursue life as a valued citizen and contributing community member.

For people who would like to print this document, there is a higher resolution document available to download at the following link: weaving a story of change (2 sided print version)

Questions and Answers: Independent Facilitation and the Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project (IFDP)

This Q&A document includes OIFN’s responses to questions about the:

  • Role of Independent Facilitation
  • Outcomes and impacts of the Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project (IFDP) funded by the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services (MCCSS) in 2015-2019
  • Learning about the importance of ongoing infrastructure funding for Independent Facilitation in Ontario.

OIFN Response to Ministry Contracted Evaluation of the Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project

The Ministry of Community and Social Services (now the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services) contracted with a third-party evaluator, Power Analysis Inc. for an evaluation of the two-year Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project (IFDP).  Conducting the evaluation in the start-up phase of the IFDP was indeed premature and did not look at Return on Investment over time.

The process used throughout the evaluation, as well as the final report, contains some serious flaws in its data collection, analysis, comparisons, and conclusions.  OIFN and the IFDP Collaborative submitted this detailed response and analysis to the Ministry regarding the limitations of this evaluation report.

OIFN and the Collaborative partners are committed to data collection and the documentation of outcome measures.  OIFN and the initial 7 Independent Facilitation Organizations that were part of the IFDP have engaged in rigorous, ongoing data collection of Collective Impact measures that reflect the impact and contribution of Independent Facilitation over the 4 years of implementation, including:

  • People planning for individualized housing solutions
  • People working on school to adult transitions
  • People in paid employment
  • Formal planning events held
  • Personal support networks established and/or sustained
  • Valued social roles attained, enhanced, and/or sustained

IFDP Emerging Community Gatherings

The Independent Facilitation Demonstration Project provided an opportunity to meet with people with developmental disabilities, families, community and service agency allies, in communities across the province. These gatherings were an opportunity to listen to what people want and need, and dialogue about how Independent Facilitation can support their efforts.

IFDP London Community Gathering

IFDP Hamilton-Brant Community Gathering

IFDP Kingston Community Gathering

IFDP Near North Community Gathering

IFDP York Region Community Gathering

IFDP Thunder Bay Community Gathering

Common Threads – Conference Reflections (2014, 2016)

OIFN endeavours to bring people together for shared learning among people who live with disabilities, their family members and/or loved ones, independent facilitators, supportive agencies, and other community allies.

Larger efforts to gather and connect people more broadly have occurred through the hosting of large conferences.  Since 2014, OIFN has hosted two Common Threads conferences, encouraging broad engagement of folks for conversations and reflections on the principles of and context for our work.  Attendance at these conferences has been remarkable, including hundreds of participants with diverse backgrounds from across North America.

Common Threads Reflections 2016Common Threads Reflections 2014

Common Threads Reflections 2016

Reflections by John O’Brien

The Common Threads 2016 conference drew people with disabilities and family members, Independent Facilitators and organization leaders together to reflect on stories of change supported by Independent Facilitators. This compound question framed their thinking together, What difference do Independent Facilitators make and how do they do it?” Most of the exploration focused on change for people and families as they relate to their communities and supports.

A higher resolution version of the document that can be downloaded for printing is available here Common Threads Reflections 2016 (Print Version)

Common Threads Reflections 2014

Reflections by John O’Brien
with contributions of presenters at the Common Threads Conference 2014

The Common Threads Conference 2014 composed portraits of person-centered work. Everyone who attended had the chance to expand their understanding by refections on the hopes and meanings attached to doing the work.