The Provincial Government recently announced they are providing an additional $240 million over three years to expand and support the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program, and Strathmore will see huge benefits from this.

The Foothills Advocacy In Motion (FAIM) Society supports adults with developmental disabilities in Strathmore and other communities, and FAIM Day Program Manager Beverly Roppel says this funding will allow them to expand their operations to help more people.

"It helps us recruit staffing for our day program as well as residential, it has increased the amount of money that's attached to each individual and in that course we're able to pay the staff that we have supporting them a higher wage, and it entices more people to apply. The struggle in our sector has been recruiting staff because the wages were not where they needed to be," Roppel said.

Beyond being able to attract new workers, the money was also used to give raises to the existing staff, which Roppel said was long overdue. Besides helping those employees with the rising cost of living, Roppel said it's especially important as it helps with staff retention.

Among other things, FAIM runs day programs to help keep people with developmental disabilities involved in the community through many means involving physical activity, cooking activities, volunteering and work programs, and more. The staff supporting these people are there to help the person be as independent as possible but will step in to help when needed. For example, if someone has a job delivering newspapers the staff would help the person get to where they need to be and provide the newspapers.

"We are there to be behind the scenes and to deliver support and encourage them, so if they need help, like if they've fallen because of the ice, we're there to support them to make sure they're ok. We transport their papers so that if they're further away, then they don't have to worry about that, they just have to take whatever they use, whether it's a bag or whether it's a cart to deliver those flyers, then they can refill them in the vehicles. They can also go in the vehicle if they have to get warm if it's cold out."

The provincial press release stated this funding would help 500 people on the waitlist, but for Roppel and FAIM the funding could have an even greater impact. Explaining that they had to shut down their waitlist due to a lack of staff, this funding allowed them to open up a waitlist again and start accepting new people, which increases the size and scope of their operations.

Building the FAIM staff has been a challenge with limited funds and covid staff shortages still hitting hard, but with this funding Roppel is optimistic they'll be able to help more people in our community.

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