How Do I Use My Passport Dollars
Passport funding can be used to access community participation and activities of daily living. It can be used for caregivers to take a break from their caregiving responsibilities. Moreover it can be used to create personal life plans. This is called person-directed planning to reach ones goals. You can also use Passport funding for administration and tools to keep track of what your funding is spent on. Passport funding is a fiscal year funding from April 1 to March 31 of the following year. It is a reimbursement program, where you initially have to pay for the supports and services, keep all receipts, complete the invoice form and submit it to the local passport agency for processing. The processing time may vary across Ontario. You should contact your local passport agency to find out the processing time for reimbursement. If you are uncertain about what supports and expenses are covered under Passport contact the local agency prior to the purchase of supports and get approval in writing. Ministry Guideline for the Passport Program: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/documents/en/mcss/publications/developmental/passport/Passport_Program_Guidelines-en.pdf
Community Participation and Activities of Daily Living
Passport funding can be used to access Community Participation and daily living activities to help the adult with a developmental disability participate fully in the community. Here are some supports and services the funding can be used for:
- Sports and Recreational
- Pre-Employment and employment Supports
- Volunteering Supports
- Post-secondary Education support
- Transportation for activities
- Participation in community activities and events
- Paying a support worker to help with community participation and daily living activities
Here are some examples from across Ontario:
- Community Activities/Events: admission tickets to various sporting, musical events, gym memberships, personal trainers, private classes, camps, painting nights, wine clubs and singles mingling events, Special Olympics.
- It can be used to pay for additional costs for day programs not covered through base funded programs. Individuals do not have to give up their base funded spot when approved for passport funding.
- Activities outside the region, cross-regional (people living in 2 regions)
- Post-Secondary supports if not covered by OSAP or if used to audit courses
- Annual memberships (zoo, museums, amusement parks)
- Picnic and fairs
- Psychiatric services
- Transportation: bus passes/tickets, taxis, mileage for support workers
Caregiver respite is a temporary help to provide a break to the primary caregivers. This can be during the day, evening or weekend, and can be in-home or out-of-home support. Respite includes supervising or providing supports for individuals with daily living activities such as personal care. Support worker can be anyone over the age of 18. However, it cannot be the primary caregivers. Here are some Respite Options:
- Paying a support worker to support with community participation or with daily living activities. This includes the expenses while providing support (e.g., meals, transportation and activity fees, expenses for accompanying the individual during trips).
- Hiring private coaches, personal tutors or trainers to develop specific and personal goals
- Traveling and Vacation: if support is required families can pay for support worker costs; in some regions it can be out of country.
Resources for Respite:
- Hiring A support Worker Guide: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/documents/en/mcss/publications/developmental/HiringSupportWorker.pdf
- Respite services: http://www.respiteservices.com/
Person Directed Planning
Passport funding can be used to develop a person-directed plan that builds on the individual’s strengths and interests and identifies supports to help them achieve their goals. There are often person directed planners in agencies; check through your passport agency to purchase a planner. It is also possible to hire an independent facilitator through agencies or private consultants. Some regions have a list of Independent facilitators.
Resources for Person Directed Planning:
- ConnectABILITY.ca – Person Directed Planning
- Ontario Independent Facilitation Network Resource: http://www.oifn.ca/
- Ministry’s Guide on Person Directed Planning
Up to ten per cent of Passport funding can be used for administrative supports such as bookkeeping, bank fees, and payroll and scheduling support workers.
- Prior approval from the Passport Agency must be obtained to receive reimbursement for supports/expenses that are not normally covered under the program.
- Always get approval in writing before purchasing supports and services.
- Choose your language carefully. Explain clearly your reason for spending money this way, for example the efficiency and savings you achieve.
- The invoice forms must be signed by the funding administrator and keep all receipts. They can be photocopies.
- Find other families to pool your passport money with. For example, this could be for transportation to and from a program or to access specific programming/events with a support worker.
Zach is 32 years old and was approved for Passport funding. He uses the funding to audit university courses, mileage to get him to and from leading a support group. He also uses a respite worker who goes to movies with him and other activities that interest him. Additionally he uses the funding to attend the yearly Geneva Centre for Autism Symposium.
How do I Track my Passport Funding
Once individuals are approved for Passport allocation they are sent a package which contains the approval letter, copies of invoices and a sheet to help caregivers and individuals keep track of their funding. Up to 10 percent of the passport funds can be used to cover the administration costs. You have the option of doing it yourself or purchasing services from external agencies and businesses. You can also contact your regional Passport agency for information on ways to track your funds.
Here are some options to help you track the funds:
- My Direct Plan This is a free online resource to help with day to day administration responsibilities for agencies and families to budget monthly spending. You are able to see the total funding available and to track the amount of funds used throughout the year.
- Electronic Tools: use of Excel Spreadsheet, Tables charts to keep track of your daily, weekly and monthly expenses.
- Manual Methods: Planners, invoice tracking sheets
- Agencies and private businesses: Caregivers have the option to flow the funds through Transfer Payment agencies (such as Community Living agencies, Kerry’s Place Autism Services, Geneva Centre for Autism) or private businesses (ie. Accountants, brokers etc…). Note: agencies and businesses may take a certain percentage of the funds to cover the administration costs.
Pro Tip: Divide the total amount approved into 12 and allocate yourself with a monthly amount. Then, whoever gives services to your son/daughter, ask them to sign the invoices after they are done, making sure you are always within your budget. You can usually do this in a word document or a table. You can also use a planner and keep track on another sheet when each month’s funds are used.