Demonstration Project to Support Adults with Disabilities through Web-Based Family Networks Receives University Funding (IN UCEDD)

September 6, 2012

Across the U.S., adults with developmental disabilities are benefiting from the "longevity revolution," living longer than ever before. In Indiana, it is estimated that there are more than 15,250 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities living with parents or siblings over the age of 60.

As a result, many Indiana families are desperate for an expansion of the formal system of supports, especially Medicaid waivers and residential supports for community living. However, this desire meets the hard reality of declining and, in the best case, flat funding of services.

Hoosier TYZE, a project funded through the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University Bloomington, will demonstrate the role of Web-based social media in bridging informal and formal systems of care supporting adults with disabilities, elders and family caregivers.

Through the leadership of the Center on Aging and Community at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, IU's School of Informatics and Computing and the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Hoosier TYZE will support 15 Hoosier families to create individualized online family and community networks, supporting their adult members with disabilities in a virtual "circle of care." This new system of family supports will demonstrate a role for state government that emphasizes partnerships between family and community systems of informal supports.

Families will be selected from three Indiana communities participating in the Communities for a Lifetime initiative, a project of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. They include Linton, Huntington, and Valparaiso, all chosen in a competitive grant program in 2011.

Phil Stafford, director of the Center on Aging and Community, provides coaching to the communities as they plan to become more livable places for all ages and abilities. "These great little cities exhibit leadership that is progressive, creative, and collaborative. They are getting what I hope is an ongoing program off to a great start," he said.

Hoosier TYZE is organized around a proven Web-based online platform called TYZE, created by Canada's PLAN Institute for Caring Citizenship. TYZE creates individualized personal, private, secure, online networks that strengthen relationships and address social isolation.

As an innovative and expandable family support program based on a social media platform, Hoosier TYZE will increase the capacity to tap and bridge formal and informal systems of supports and planning for the future welfare of all family members, demonstrate the viability of social media to support family decision-making and bring about program and policy recommendations surrounding the future development of community-based social media networks of care and support.

For more information on Hoosier TYZE, contact Phil Stafford, principal investigator,  (staffor@indiana.edu) at the Center on Aging and Community.

The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana's University Center for Excellence on Disabilities, works to increase community capacity in disability through academic instruction, research, dissemination and training, and technical assistance.

The Institute receives support from the
Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University Bloomington, which is dedicated to supporting ongoing faculty research and creative activity, developing new multidisciplinary initiatives and maximizing the potential of faculty to accomplish path-breaking work.