"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Saturday, January 23, 2010

All I Want For Christmas ...

It struck me today that perhaps I should be looking for a (belated) Christmas present.
The parents of students with autism or other developmental disabilities would have more choice and control over their children's education under legislation that received bipartisan support from Oklahoma lawmakers Tuesday.

The measure, which will be considered by the 2010 Legislature that convenes on Feb. 1, would qualify special needs students who have an individualized education program for a state-funded scholarship to attend any school accredited by the state Board of Education.

It would also expand the Self-Directed Care Program to provide greater benefits to developmentally disabled Oklahomans who receive state support.
Interestingly enough, the measure is said not to involve an increase in spending. Which is a good thing when Oklahoma faces a $729 million budget shortfall. Rather it would redirect how existing funds are spent to educate developmentally disabled students.

In fact, it's asserted that such "scholarship bills" for special needs students could save money for the state as well as parents by having state funds follow students and allowing their parents to place them in a school that best meets their educational needs. [I do believe that's what's known as "portability" ... too bad Nova Scotia couldn't figure it out.] Families will be provided a monthly budget and allowed to directly hire care staff. They can also use the program to get much needed respite care.

Save the government money while empowering parents to choose the best educational setting for their child? Sound too good to be true?

Nothing's ever that simple, is it?

It strikes me that some (at least in this country) might argue against such an approach on the basis that it runs counter to "inclusion". Although I would tend to think that giving parents (as opposed to school boards or government departments) the decision as to the best place for their child to attend school should alleviate a lot of that concern.

Supposedly we have something similar in Nova Scotia for students with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities. Notice I say "supposedly". That's because given the cost of some of the specialized schools in this province, the pitiful amount the government contributes makes it only a dream fantasy for many families.

Not exactly a scholarship, eh?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Guardianship Precedents ... A Work in Progress

Kathleen, in comments, notes that she was granted legal guardianship of her severely developmentally delayed son in late November.
I had decided to be my own lawyer, which meant learning about all the paper work, making sure it was all filled out properly, and going to court. The court appearance was almost anti-climactic - the judge had been given all the paper work a week prior, so he called us up first, smiled, said, everything looks fine to me, I'll write you up the guardianship order and you can pick it up this afternoon. Wow! It cost us the court charges which was about $135 and my time.

So, you might wonder why we chose this route. First,this way, there is no ambivalence about who his guardian is. Disagreements may arise around medical procedures; when and if he ever goes into a "group home" we will still have some input into his life; if we want to get him a passport; dealing with Revenue Canada; etc. But most importantly, as he does not understand implications of his actions, or anything to do with legal, financial, or other issues, we his parents, who know him better than anyone, figure that we are in the best position to make decisions on his behalf as we have his best interests at heart.
For some time now, I have been mulling over the idea of creating some sort of guardianship kit for parents of adult children with disabilities. My thinking being that it would be much like those Legal Will kits that you hear advertised on the TV and radio.

With that idea in mind (and Kathleen and her husband as willing 'guinea pigs', so to speak), we have proven that it can, indeed, be done. Not for $5,000 or $6,000 in legal fees and not as a long and complicated process (as so many claim) but as a relatively parent-friendly experience. Sure, Kathleen had a little help from her friends, but don't we all need that?

I have previously set out (and now updated) the process to be followed and the documents required for a guardianship application, the one change that has occurred since that post first being written is that Nova Scotia's new Civil Procedure Rules require only one court appearance (as opposed to the previous two appearances). Which should also make it significantly more parent-friendly.

So now that I've proven to myself that it can be done (with a bit of one-on-one coaching), it's time to get down to work on a package of precedent documents.

And although the project may take a while to complete, life being what it is (and I have yet to decide in what format and in what manner such a package will be made available ), rest assured, it most definitely is on my to-do list.

If I can find a way to make it workable, I will.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Year in a Blawg

I thought I would try something different as we start the New Year. A nifty little thing I saw elsewhere in the blogosphere.

So I present to you ... A Year in a Blawg.

It's the first sentence (or maybe two) of the first post for every month in 2009.

January - Just so you know ... it's still not too late to take advantage of the government's 2008 Grant and Bond even if you haven't yet gotten around to opening a RDSP.

February - Yes, there are many, many things I would like to post about, including the remaining portion of that human rights and employment discussion.

March - I considered titling this post "Royal Bank RDSP SNAFU" but then decided that perhaps that was a little harsh.

April - Just a quick note to let you know about the upcoming Atlantic Caregivers Expo on May 9 & 10, 2009 in Exhibition Park, Halifax, NS

May - I mentioned previously that some interesting questions had come out of the RDSP Information Session put on by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

June - Which is about how I've been feeling lately. There is a fair bit going on personally over here, not the least of which includes the battle to have my own child's EA hours reinstated for next year.

July - Posting has been light the last little while, in part because I have been studying Nova Scotia's new Civil Procedure Rules. Yes, studying as in there will be a test.

August -Okay, maybe not "in black" exactly but we are back with, at least, a few new tidbits to share.

September - I put off blogging about this particular issue because, quite frankly, it troubles me. I had hoped that discussing the matter with others in the disability community and taking some time to mull it over myself might help to settle my thoughts, but to no avail.

October - It was brought to my attention that some of my previous posts on the Henson Trust might have been a trifle misleading or confusing to some readers on the issue of whether or not such a Trust will work to protect the beneficiary's access to government benefits in Nova Scotia.

November - It's one thing to discuss the big picture of how things should work in the world of special education. It can often be quite another thing to attempt to navigate through that maze on the ground.

December - Continuing our discussion of the issues involved in a person with a disability executing a Power of Attorney (POA) in favour of the parent instead of the parent having to go through the guardianship process, I offer a few more thoughts on the limitations of a POA.
So now you know. A little taste of what this blawg has been about in the past year.

May you and your family enjoy a happy, prosperous and inclusive New Year.