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Individualized Funding Policy

Policy Issue

Many people with disabilities and their families are demanding a greater voice in determining how their needs are met. They have advocated that government provide the option of individualized funding - a system of delivering services that supports self-determination by providing funds directly to individuals or families so that they can identify the services and supports they need and choose where and how they obtain those services and supports.

Many individuals and families have also identified the need for independent planning services to help them determine what supports to purchase, where they can purchase them, and how to organize supports to meet their specific needs.

The current service delivery system creates a number of frustrations for many individuals and families receiving or trying to receive supports and services through government programs:

  • lack of independent planning;
  • lack of choice in services;
  • lack of flexibility – services don’t meet individual needs;
  • little or no control over how supports and services are provided; and
  • lack of portability of services.

For some individuals and families, the flexibility and portability provided by individualized funding contribute to a greater sense of self-determination and control over their lives. This contributes to a better quality of life, better overall health and a greater sense of citizenship.

For individualized funding to succeed, it is essential that government commit to supporting a quality community service delivery system that is:

  • responsive;
  • flexible; and
  • accountable to the people it serves.


To ensure that individuals with a developmental disability and their families have the option to choose individualized funding for the purchase of services and supports.

Guiding Principles

1. People with developmental disabilities and their families have a right to choose individualized funding as a way to meet their needs for services and supports and to achieve greater self-determination.

2. It is a public collective responsibility to provide the services and supports needed by people with developmental disabilities to participate fully in community life.

3. Individualized funding is simply a mechanism for disbursing public funds, not a way for government to relinquish public responsibility for supports and services and pass it on to the private sector.

4. Individualized funding must be based on the reasonable assumption that recipients are trustworthy and negotiating for funding in good faith.

5. Individualized funding (and planning supports) must be flexible and responsive to the culture, values and preferences of each person and their family.


Individualized funding has increasingly evolved as a public policy option internationally, with a growing number of individualized funding initiatives being developed in national and state jurisdictions over the past three decades. B.C. has seen a growing interest in individualized funding since the mid-1970s, and BCACL’s membership has endorsed resolutions that support making individualized funding available as an option for individuals and families.

B.C. operated an individualized funding/service brokerage pilot project during the 1990s, which no longer exists. During the later 1990s a group of family members (the Family Summit) attempted to build support for a proposal to implement a form of individualized funding in three B.C. communities. Other ad hoc groups have also developed alternative models for individualized funding.

In recent years, some service providers have undertaken informal individualized funding and service arrangements for people with developmental disabilities. Microboards* have been used to obtain direct funding (sometimes shared by health and social service ministries) for individuals. And since 1994, a form of individualized funding has been available as an option through the Ministry of Health (Choice in Supports for Independent Living - CSIL) for people with disabilities who are eligible for home support services. (Under CSIL, the Ministry of Health determines how many hours of home support an individual needs per week, and pays the individual directly to hire the person of their choice to provide those hours. A microboard may have more flexibility in determining what services are needed and how funds are spent to meet those needs.)

Policy Statements

  1. Individualized funding should be available to those individuals and families who want it.
  2. Access to individualized funding should not be limited on the basis of an individual’s perceived capacity.
  3. An individualized funding system must include:
  • Sufficient resources to meet demand;
  • Access to independent planning supports;
  • A working partnership between government and community to create and sustain the full range of services and supports that individuals and families may need to purchase; and
  • Continued availability of services traditionally delivered by community-based organizations.

 4.  Where needed, support should be provided to individuals and families to manage financial and human resources.
 5.  Individualized funding must be sufficient to meet individual needs and not be based on pre-defined arbitrary limits.
 6.  Individualized funding should protect workers’ rights to fair working conditions, wages and benefits.

* microboard: a small group of committed family and/or friends who join with a person to create a non-profit society that addresses the person’s needs in an empowering and customized fashion and administers funds allocated to the person for supports and services.