The Facilitator

The facilitation of networks is the most significant service we provide at PLAN RI. It is the heart and soul of our work with families. The effective hiring and training of facilitators is crucial to PLAN RI’s existence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who leads the network?

Acting on the wishes of a family members, a paid facilitator functions as the leader of the personal support network. Under the mentoring of Personal Lifetime Advocacy Networks of Rhode Island (PLAN RI), s/he is responsible to: Focus on the individual with the disability and work with him/her to generate a vision for a full life as independent as possible in the community.

Generate and/or work from a written personal futures plan based on the vision of that person and his/her family members.

Invite family, friends, neighbors and other people with natural connections to the focus person to join the personal support network. If the number dwindles, seek out new people to replenish the circle of support.

Look for the gifts of all the network members, starting with the focus person.

Organize the gatherings of the network on a regular basis, providing structure for and records of what transpires.

Seek out strategies to overcome obstacles to the fulfillment of the personal future plans.

Communicate with network members and encourage their individual connection with the focus person between meetings.

Report on all of these activities regularly to the coordinator of PLAN RI

Who makes a good Facilitator?

Facilitation is both an art and a science. There are specific protocols and tools a facilitator must use to be effective in the science of facilitation. Facilitation also requires heart. This is where the art component of facilitation is necessary. Knowing when to do what, with whom, is what determines a great facilitator.

Our experience is that great facilitators tend to be those individuals who are naturally community connectors. They naturally and easily build bridges between people. They are the people at parties and gatherings who introduce unfamiliar people to each other and ensure all people feel welcome and included. A formal education is not required to be an effective network facilitator.

What qualities does PLAN RI look for?

First and foremost, PLAN RI looks for individuals who share the family’s and PLAN RI’s values. We hire people based on their compatibility with the individual for whom a network is to be established. All have a knack of inspiring others to see the gifts of their focus person. We look for people who are good listeners and who believe in the hospitality of their communities.

Listed below are ten more qualities of effective facilitators:

  1. Strength based – see the glass half full
  2. Encouraging – reinforce network members specifically and often
  3. Diplomatic – submit ideas for consideration or ask thoughtful questions
  4. Connected to the community and willing to use those connections
  5. Fearless – willing to point out needs and ask others to help meet them
  6. Respectful – treats others as they would like to be treated
  7. Age appropriate – understand that mental age is a misnomer and model how to include the focus person in activities shared by others of his or her chronological age
  8. Pro-active – do not wait to respond to mistakes but anticipate and avoid them, whenever possible
  9. Committed over time – willing to remain with the same focus person for at least one year and recognizes the need for stability over the long run
  10. Personable – upbeat and sincere, a pleasure to be around

Facilitators range in age from their mid-twenties to their mid sixties. Some are parents or relatives of people with a disability. Many have a background in community support and counseling. Several have university degrees. Most have at least two years of college. Previous experience with people with disability is a bonus but not a prerequisite.

How are Facilitators Recruited?

Facilitators are recruited through typical methods of recruitment – ads in newspapers, word of mouth, the recommendations of families and friends of PLAN RI, and presentations to college and university programs.

How are Facilitators Hired?

Facilitators send in their resumes to PLAN RI. Applicants who look promising are phoned and introduced to PLAN RI briefly. They need to be able to commit to at least one year on the job and to attend a two-hour group interview. If the applicant is interested based on this information, they are invited to attend a group interview.

PLAN RI holds the safety and security of our lifelong members as a sacred trust. As a result, we ask potential facilitators to provide us with a current Criminal Background Check (BCI) before being introduced to any family members they might support. We will repeat this process every two years following their application to PLAN RI.

The group interview process has proven effective for PLAN RI. It provides the opportunity to explain what PLAN RI does and what makes it unique. A description of facilitation is provided along with an explanation of the challenges facilitators face. The need for a minimum of one-year commitment to the job is again stressed. The group interview process includes a group exercise that allows the interviewers to see the applicants in action. The process concludes with questions and a written self-assessment from the applicants.

How does PLAN RI Support Facilitators?

Facilitators are supported through the ongoing process of mentoring. Mentoring involves the coming together of our facilitators on a regular basis to review their purpose, goals and strategies as well as to “refuel.” Facilitator meetings are an opportunity to encourage, brainstorm, inspire, support, coordinate and inform.
PLAN RI provides a coordinator/mentor who is a senior facilitator of PLAN RI. He or she is responsible for the orientation and support of the facilitators. This person contacts or accompanies the facilitator on a regular basis to stay in touch and to provide encouragement. If a facilitator has any questions, he or she is expected to call the coordinator immediately. In addition, for the first year following an application to PLAN RI, potential facilitators observe an existing network. They may be matched to a member family to facilitate their network at any time deemed appropriate by the coordinator and one member of the board of directors during this initial year of voluntary service.

How are Facilitators Paid?

Facilitators invoice PLAN RI for their contract services monthly. Invoices can be mailed or faxed to PLAN RI but are to be received by the coordinator by the the first Tuesday of each month. The invoices are checked against the work PLAN RI by the coordinator.
Hours worked by a facilitator for a specific network are paid by PLAN RI and later billed to the family. The families have made a financial commitment to PLAN RI so that the facilitator will be paid and the Personal support network will be sustained throughout the lifetime of the focus person. Hours that are not specific to a network such as Facilitators’ Coordination Meetings and contact with the coordinator are not billed to a specific network.

Facilitators are often expected to attend Christmas, birthday, summer BBQ parties, etc. for the person they work with. Facilitators are entitled to bill for these and other such social events for up to two hours. Any time spent beyond this at a network social event will be the facilitator’s own time and will not be paid.

PLAN RI pays facilitators a flat fee of $35 for attending Facilitator Coordination Meetings on alternating months. Facilitators are also encouraged to attend Family Training Sessions, the annual Meeting/Cookout and the Holiday Party every December; however, they do not receive reimbursement for any of these meetings. PLAN RI does not pay for the facilitator’s mileage or travel time to and from any meetings.

PLAN RI sends a statement to each facilitator along with his or her payment check. Each Facilitator is responsible for keeping their own records for purposes of reporting their contract income for annual income tax purposes.

PLAN RI recovers a portion of the expenses billed to PLAN RI under PLAN RI costs.

Are Facilitators Employees or Independent Contractors?

Network facilitators are independent contractors and not employees of PLAN RI. Facilitators are required to have adequate insurance to cover their automobile and are responsible for state and federal reporting applicable to their independent contract business. As contractors, facilitators are expected to adhere to the organization’s policy against discrimination and harassment.

How are Families Invoiced for Facilitator Time?

Billing for each Network is to be done on one time sheet per family. Time sheets are sent in every month regardless of number of hours worked.
PLAN RI then invoices the families for the facilitator’s hours. Families can pay on a monthly basis, a payment schedule, or through the designation of a clause in their will directing the trustee to pay PLAN RI. For administrative purposes PLAN RI receives a portion of the expenses that are billed to families.
Facilitator Job Description (44 kb PDF)

Facilitator Profiles (27.8 kb PDF)