Life Sharing through Family Living is a cost-effective alternative to more traditional residential services. An individual with a developmental disability joins a provider family, in their private and already established home, as a fully participating member of that family and community. Life Sharing is more than providing the basics such as food and shelter. It is about sharing life experiences, and building mutual relationships and responsibility.
The Life Sharing through Family Living program has been supporting individuals and providers since July 1987 and we pride on the enduring relationships that have been established over the years. Our Life Sharing is sponsored by Catholic Social Services. We recognize that family life is critically important in fostering and developing the dignity of every person. Our families offer hope, faith, and love to the individuals they support. We facilitate opening doors to new relationships for individuals with the provider family while maintaining and fostering family ties.
The decision of who is chosen as the Life Sharing provider is ultimately made by the person seeking a provider, with support from Life Sharing through Family Living program staff and the person's family. The provider integrates the individual into the community in a positive, normalized manner, by teaching relevant skills, modeling appropriate behavior, and by providing the individual with opportunities for main streaming social interaction on an ongoing basis. In that very special family setting, both the Life Sharing through Family Living individual and the family members experience the growth and relationships that come from understanding the unique needs and values of each other both within the family and within the community.
The Life Sharing through Family Living Provider
A key ingredient to successful Life Sharing is the compatibility between the provider and the person with disabilities. Providers are very diverse and include single adults, single parents, two-parent families with children, and "empty-nest" families. All provider families must have a sensitivity to and a sincere desire to work with individuals with special needs, access to transportation and a private residence with adequate living space for another family member.
The potential providers and the individual are carefully interviewed, then matched to ensure they have compatible interests and personalities. A Program Specialist will then arrange supervised visits to introduce the individual to the provider's home and family. You will slowly progress, developing a relationship, until all parties feel comfortable with the move into your home.
Provider families must meet strict criteria and undergo an intensive screening process before being considered for Life Sharing. The Life Sharing program provides minor home adaptations that may be necessary, start-up costs, outside support and access to a program specialist oversees and provides support for all aspects of the relationship. Providers receive initial and on-going training specific to the needs of the person sharing their home.
In most cases, the individual will be out in the community during the day, either at school, working at a job, or in a day program. Most providers who work outside the home find that their schedules mesh very well. The provider's responsibilities include: attending meetings and medical appointments, working on goals to help the individual become more independent, and providing a quality home life that is mutually beneficial for the family and the individual.
Providers come from all walks of life; the only common thread is that they are people who have a good heart and have the willingness to share a home with someone in need. If you are interested or know someone who is interested, please consider seriously the following qualifications to become a provider:
- Be willing to give love and care to a new family member.
- Be 21 years of age or older, be in good physical and emotional health.
- Have separate bedrooms or a large enough bedroom to share with another family member.
- Meet state requirements for health and safety of the person being placed.
- Criminal and Child Abuse clearances.
- Physicals for all persons living in the household.
- Personal and professional references.
- Minimum of 24 hours of pre-service and annual training.
A home study, home inspection, pre-service training and screening checks are completed prior to welcoming a new family member into the home. All Life Sharing homes must meet standards; the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare provides licensing and regulatory oversight. Providers receive a monthly stipend, which is federally tax-exempt, to cover service and room/board. The individual's income and benefits cover their own medical expenses and personal purchases. Additional support services are available based on the individual's needs.
What We Hear About Lifesharing
"As a Life Sharing provider; I have the opportunity to sharing my family, my home and my friends with an individual with disabilities. Accepting them for who they are providing them with the opportunities to be part of a family and a household, thus giving them the necessary support and care they needs to develop their personal growth.
My family and I accepted and welcome our Life Sharing individual into our home for about a year now. This individual was a perfect match for us; she shares the same Christian and culture values with us and became part of our friends, church and extended family.
As a provider, I encourage, support, and help my individual learn new ways to develop her health, spiritual and emotional growth. It gives me so much joy and pride to see how she has developed so much hope, strength, skills and self esteem in such a short time. With continued support, God only knows what positive impact Life Sharing experience will be in this individual's life that might improve her future as a person with disabilities." ~ Mayetta S Brown, Lifesharing Provider
"Life Sharing is a place that people have a family that loves them for who they are. I had a family before they moved and my aunt takes good care of me. She loves me for who I am ... I take my aunt like my real mother. My mother died in 2003. It was hard for me. I take her children like my real sisters and I love them. They are the best family ... Thank you Life Sharing for giving me a family." ~ Annsis D, Lifesharing Participant
Admission to Life Sharing through Family Living is solely through referral from the Department of Human Services in Philadelphia and from the Offices of Mental Retardation throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. For additional information on Life Sharing through Family Living, see information in the Pennsylvania Home and Community Services and Supports Directory (HCSIS) under Divine Providence Village. For referral information, admission inquiries, or for any other information, please contact the Program Coordinator, Jim Boyle, at 484.908.6583.
For more information on life sharing, please Download the Program Fact Sheet.