A History of CLPS
November 28, 2014
Posted in: Uncategorized
When I was hired by Community Living Parry Sound in 2013 I jumped right into a project that was mid-stride. I had little time to ask about how the Community Living movement had started or evolved. Moved by a strong desire to play a part in fulfilling the organization’s mission I just got to work.This article, written in October 2011, goes a long way to explaining how the 1962 “Parry Sound and Area Retarded Children’s Association” became Community Living Parry Sound and fills in some of the gaps in my understanding. Re-printed from the Metroland newspaper, here is a history of CLPS that is as relevant today as it was 3 years ago.
Oct 12, 2011
Half century of growth and evolution in Parry Sound
How far we’ve come . . .
Community Living Parry Sound is a familiar name to many people in the Parry Sound area and has undergone many changes over a 50-year period.
“The Parry Sound and Area Retarded Children’s Association” was the original name for Community Living Parry Sound (CLPS). An evolutionary process; reminiscent of a civil rights movement, ensued during the following 49 years. Over time the agency name has changed five times to reflect the change in societal attitudes and service delivery.
The agency began in 1962 when a group of concerned parents joined to advocate for educational opportunities for their children. At that time children with disabilities were not eligible for public education. Medical professionals often referred parents seeking services to institutional care. With no developmental services available in Parry Sound, many families considered institutionalization the only realistic option. The result was that a great number of children grew to adulthood in institutions, far removed from their families and home community.
When the Parry Sound and Area Retarded Children’s Association opened its doors with only four students it began a movement in the direction of community based supports, and by 1966 enrolment had grown to 72.
Although the school was initiated by a small group of families, the community shared their concern and the response was overwhelming as generous donations were extended.
In April of 1965, there was a major step forward when the local Kinsmen Club presented a cheque in the amount of $15,000 to the Association, to assist in building the “Kinsmen School for Retarded Children” on property provided by the William Beatty Company Limited and the Board of Education. With further donations from the Kinsmen Club, the Association was able to fundraise for the balance of $4,250 to complete the project.
In May of 1967, the Lion’s Club offered to finance the first year of the sheltered workshop program, which became the ARC Industries, with a donation of $18,000. The sheltered workshop was offered in a residential garage on Hillcrest Street, until a suitable building could be constructed.
As an extension of education, the Adult Rehabilitation Centre (A.R.C.), opened in 1970, to provide continued learning and training opportunities for students who had graduated and needed a day time program. A.R.C. provided people with sheltered employment and social opportunities. Societal attitudes at that time dictated that people with disabilities should remain together and have segregated, specialized services.
By the late ‘70s it had become apparent that people had a right to live in their own communities and this is what their families wanted. Two group home residences were opened housing 14 residents. The apartment program soon followed, assisting people to live independently with necessary supports. This program eventually evolved into the Supported Independent Living Program. Additional group homes have been opened and some closed in addition to expansions of apartment buildings to accommodate increasing numbers of people; some moving back home to Parry Sound from institutions. The Family Home Program later (1994) opened accommodating people in a more family oriented living situations with 24-hour supports.
Progress in education occurred in 1980, Bill 82 came into effect requiring school boards provincially to provide access to special education for students with different learning needs. Students in Parry Sound began to attend public schools; again segregated but a step forward. When people continue to be segregated from opportunities to build relationships of their choosing they are deprived of the basic right of association. Today, segregated classrooms are still available but significant efforts are being made to promote full inclusion; thus securing the right of each student to an education and to build relationships of their choice within the mainstream school community.
Programs and services have continued to be centre based for many years. A.R.C. was renamed Community Living Support Services which eventually incorporated a supported employment program, Job Opportunities Bureau (J.O.B.). People had the opportunity to work in the community with support in lawn care, snow shovelling and making wooden stakes for outside businesses. A Children’s Program and Youth Program were later developed to address the needs of families, children and youth. Empowerment of families is the main focus as well as advocacy in education. Children and adult respite also became available to families to hire respite contractors for skills development, social opportunities or to just take a break. Youth drop in programs were developed to assist with learning independent living skills, promote leisure opportunities and friendships.
In 2002 the agency adopted the name Community Living Parry Sound. CLPS provides a continuum of supports and services to 155 children, youth and adults. Since 2004, CLPS has undergone independent reviews of all it’s programs and services, resulting in many changes to maintain the agency’s leading edge in developmental services. Regular strategic planning occurs to set directions and guide action. This is an agency that prides itself on being leaders in the field.
Our vision for 2014 decrees: “by 2014 our local communities will be the primary option in building a good life for people with developmental disabilities and supports will be directed by people’s own strengths and desires.” This looks very different from 1962 and demonstrates the tremendous learning that has occurred in the last 49 years.Services have transformed from segregated, centre based supports that were dictated as necessary by staff, families or clinical teams to full community citizenship identified through person-centered practices and dictated by what people identify as important in their lives.
Today more students are achieving the education that they desire, adults are working and volunteering in community employment positions with supports where needed, centre based programs are limited very specifically to a small number of people and are very purposeful and structured. People are living more independently and making choices about where they want to live and with whom. CLPS no longer offers segregated programs for children, youth or adults. CLPS staff assist people to access community first, no longer duplicating programs or services that are available in the community. Social and recreational opportunities are sought on a daily basis and people are feeling more respected and welcomed in their own communities.
This is not to suggest that past practices were wrong, merely an evolutionary process that continues into our future. It is worth looking back and taking pride in what has been accomplished and taking a moment to imagine what the future might hold. The agency continues to be, in some fashion, a segregated service as it only supports people with developmental disabilities. A recent question posed at a conference focussed on inclusion asked “What is your vision of developmental services 20 years from now?”
What a great question. Where were we 20 years ago? Look how far we have come. If this is any indication of how far we can go, hopefully we will be telling our grandchildren of the day way back when, when people were segregated and often treated with less worth than others. Hopefully our grandchildren will see all people accessing full community services and businesses and all of those services and businesses will employ Developmental Service Workers to address the needs of their diverse consumer group.
As we continue to grow, we embrace the seven keys areas in life: personal goals, relationships, health and body, career and education, recreation, financial and contribution.
We all have a right to develop in all of these areas on our own terms to achieve full citizenship. The goal of CLPS is that all people have the opportunity to live as full citizens of Parry Sound regardless of differences in abilities.