Program and Project Criteria for Community Centres for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Families
The provincial policy for Mental Health Services as well as its legislative framework calls for the active involvement of consumers and their families in the recovery process. An important component of such a process is the availability and accessibility to social support, self-help, public education, recreational and community inclusion activities. Community centres for persons with autism provide an opportunity for individuals with autism and their families to access such support.
The purpose of population-based services includes reducing the frequency and severity of symptoms and encouraging healthy living skill sets in children. Population-based services are often best directed early in child development and within natural settings therefore promoting naturally occurring supportive relationships.
This document describes the fundamental values under which community-based proposals should operate, defines broadly the objectives sought to achieve and provides operational guidelines.
A review of the literature related to best-practice models suggests that successful models should be family-centred, collaborative, and community-based. They should also be team-oriented and demonstrate such characteristics as having clearly-defined missions and philosophies, being accessible, using comprehensive yet versatile approaches and being adaptable for replication.
These values are made evident when:
- Centres have parent- and consumer-driven involvement and inclusion.
- Centres are community- and volunteer-based and community-led.
- Centres have a linked network of partnerships with a broad array of stakeholder involvement and experience both in formulating and in guiding the centres.
- Centres build on existing community resources and enhance community capacity for integrated resource availability.
- Centres are a key component of a support network.
- Centres complement and enhance the formal service delivery system.
Centres should aim at achieving the following objectives:
- Provide a place where people can meet to exchange ideas and information and develop a sense of belonging.
- Provide families, children and youth with opportunities to participate in meaningful activities, which contribute to increasing their well-being, self-esteem and social functioning.
- Foster community integration and inclusion.
- Assist families to gain access to community-based resources.
- Educate the public and the formal service delivery system about Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Centres operate as independent entities with their respective boards and structure accountable for decisions. The following criteria must be respected when applying for project funding from the Mental Health Services Division.
- Wherever the centre is located, it should be the least restrictive and most natural environment for the child, youth and family.
- Models should be family-oriented and responsive to families' priorities.
- Family values should guide the practices of the centres and each child's and family's intervention should be individualized and developmentally appropriate. The practices must be validated by evidence-based research.
- Boards should be made up of various community stakeholders including professionals, families and where possible, users of the service.
- Centres will provide the Mental Health Services Division with a report on annual expenditures, as well as a description of program and project outcomes.
- A purchase-of-service contract must be signed between the centre and the Mental Health Services Division.
- Centres should be open to all community members wishing to participate.
- Centres must make a conscious decision to be broad-based and eclectic in what they provide as information related to autism, i.e. centres do not promote one specific intervention over others but rather provide information and resources regarding a broad array of options from which families may choose.
An organization that wishes to present a funding request to Mental Health Services is asked to do so in the following manner.
- Proposals should be submitted for community program initiatives to the Mental Health Services Division. The purpose and objectives of a proposal should be consistent with the criteria for community centres for persons with Autism Spectrum disorder and their families.
- Proposals for funding may be submitted at any time throughout the year and must not exceed a request of $30,000.
- A clear description of the program, the target group, the expected impact and results, and any other data in support of the request is required for funding.
- Proposals should be addressed to: Department of Health and Wellness, Mental Health Services Division.
- Within two weeks of a request being received, a letter acknowledging receipt will be sent to the centre submitting the request.
- Each request will be reviewed with feedback to the centre submitting the request within two months of its date of receipt.