Bottom line? We will feel better supported as a family
and we can be just like a regular family.
Once YASDP identified the major issues it would need to pay attention to in the future, it needed to better understand the implications. The facilitator/consultant helped to develop the following implications:
The success of YASDP is largely attributed to the commitment by all partners to work collaboratively together. When asked about collaboration, partners repeatedly mentioned the importance of trust and communication. These are indeed the foundations for successful collaboration but, as research has shown*, successful collaboration also requires process and structure.
When the partners were surveyed in 2010 and again in 2014, they said their biggest challenges were:
I. Adequate funding to support the process and structure;
2. Adequate people power to do the work; and
3. People sitting at the table who were able to make decisions and speak on behalf of their organizations.
*The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation has been conducting research on the successful elements of collaboration since 1992
While all partners believe that YASDP has increased overall satisfaction for families and service providers, families feel YASDP is especially effective at giving a voice to their concerns so that they can influence the provision of services and supports. Service provider agencies ask questions along the lines of: “How do we know that we are making a difference?”; “How are we changing the system of support?” and “Are we achieving the outcomes we think we are achieving?”
As YASDP moves into the future, it will need to pay attention to measurement. Measuring effectiveness (what works and why?) will provide evidence to sustain the collaborative partnership – which requires resources to support its process and structure. Measurement also helps to guide strategies and priorities.
It takes deliberate and intentional efforts to support the work of a collaboration. YASDP has been fortunate in having an abundance of strong leaders from both the family and the service provider communities. As the collaboration moves forward it will need to pay attention to the continued recruitment of new members and the development of strong leaders.
Funding the work of the Partnership will also be important and will be much easier to secure with good quantitative and qualitative measures of success to demonstrate impact.
The challenging early years of establishing the Partnership, creating its first strategic plan and developing the structure to support its work are now in the past. The new challenges are about sustaining the current work while also reviewing, renewing and sustaining its future structure and goals.
Going forward, YASDP will want to reflect on its past success at “chunking” the work (i.e. sequencing doable tasks) and will need to be ruthlessly strategic in order to avoid the mistake of adding more new and improved goals to those that they have already embraced. A critical analysis of what the Partnership can let go of and what will help to really “move the needle” will be required.
YASDP has been a successful model for improving the system of support for people with ASD and their families in York Region. In looking at where and how these learnings can be transferred to other systems, YASDP partners have suggested using this approach for adults with ASD and for adult developmental services.
Download a copy of the reflections and recommendations from the Reflection Session.
There is a long list of recommendations suggested by the above implications. It is important, however, for YASDP to be focussed and strategic and so they are considering the following three strategies, as a starting point:
YASDP seek a partnership with researchers from post-secondary institutions, participating partner agencies and parent advocacy representatives to develop an Evaluation and Measurement Strategy.
YASDP develop a succession plan for recruiting and orienting new members and supporting the development of a cadre of leaders who can build on the foundation of past successes.
YASDP move into a new strategic planning process with an eye to identifying future priorities and reviewing how the existing committee and working group structure needs to change to support those priorities. This strategic plan will build off existing efforts and, will be rolled out in a way that allows current priorities to gradually “shift” towards new priorities.
When the members of YASDP gathered for their Reflection Session in November, 2014, they developed a shared aspiration statement. They said: “We want a community where there is respect and appreciation for all, where there is a sense of belongingness and where everyone can be happy and safe and live a fulfilling life.”
With this shared aspiration as the guiding light and follow-through on YASDP’s priority strategies, the future promises all children, youth and adults with ASD in York Region will have real hope of living in a community that achieves those aspirations.