Many families in Windsor-Essex County had been administering their own Special Services At Home (now Passports) contracts since 1982. This was a direct funding program for adults with developmental disabilities. When individualized funding arrangements began to increase in our community, around 1995, discussions were initiated regarding the need for a payroll/human resource support service. Initial concept work occurred from 1995 to 2000. The idea of a community bank was recommended as part of restructuring plans. During this time an attempt was made to incorporate as Payroll Services Cooperative for Windsor-Essex; however, incorporation was denied.
In 2001, the community bank concept was revived and the Central Disbursement Mechanism (CDM) was created. The CDM was set up solely as a banking function for people and families who were receiving designated individualized dollars. Payroll and human resource supports were not part of the model.
In 2005/2006, the community decided to return to the idea of a payroll and human resource support service for people and families. The work was funded through an innovations grant.
In 2010 through the Ministry of Community and Social Service's increasing the Community Capacity Initiative, annualized funding from within the Windsor-Essex County developmental services system was identified and approved to implement the human resource support component of Avenues. It is at that point that Avenues became a program of Family Services Windsor-Essex.
We listened to people and families who are self-directing their individualized funding and they told us:
- People and families are asking for flexible financial and human resource supports in a different way;
- People and families want to choose how they pay their Personal Assistants;
- People and families want to choose their Personal Assistants and the types of supports they can provide;
- People and families want different ways to value their Personal Assistants i.e., the option of offering benefits