Individuals living with intellectual disabilities and long-term mental illness will soon benefit from an expanded government program. The Department of Community Services announced today, March 22, that the Independent Living Support Program will begin to serve clients in the northern region which includes the counties of Guysborough, Antigonish, Pictou, Colchester and Cumberland at the end of the month. The program, initiated in Cape Breton last January, will expand to the rest of the province over the next year. “We’ve targeted our programs to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities by offering varying levels of support,” said Judy Streatch, Minister of Community Services. “This program will help people maintain their independence, while ensuring they have enough support to meet their daily needs.” The Independent Living Support program serves people who are semi-independent and need a minimum level of assistance to live on their own in the community. It provides up to 21 hours of weekly support, including help maintaining health and wellness, household chores, and accessing services in the community. The Independent Living Support Program expansion and other new services were announced in December 2004, following extensive community consultation. The services include: Direct Family Support, providing financial assistance to people who care for a family member with a disability at home; the Alternative Family Support Program, which offers a family-like setting in the community. These new programs complement existing residential services already in place for people who need a higher level of care in the community.