The relationship between truth and a newspaper is like the relationship between the color green and the number seven. Occasionally you will see the number seven written in green but you learn not to expect this.
I happen to feel that the relationship between Medicaid funding for people with disabilities and the services that people with one or more developmental disabilities truly want is the same as Garrison Keillor’s view of the relationship between the color green and the number seven – occasionally the funding and services line up, but we have learned not to expect that to happen.
Now, the question may arise: “Well, what do people with one or more developmental disabilities truly want?” While acknowledging that every individual is different (like they say – if you’ve met one person with a developmental disability, you’ve met one person with a developmental disability), my personal experience leads me to believe that in general, the answer to that question is two-fold: they want acceptance, and they want to be productive members of their communities.
To get that done, we need to identify elements of learning and elements of community participation, and educate our Direct Support Professionals on those elements. If we don’t do those things, we can’t get the job done.
The current way we fund services is not conducive at all to identifying and educating on those key elements. We don’t fund learning and community contribution. We fund things like IPs and behavior correction. I’m not saying those don’t have a place in what we do, but they tend to be treated as end points instead of tools to reach the bigger goals.
Those of us in the service field need to simplify what we do by asking if what we are doing is meeting end goals of acceptance and community contribution. Once we know where we are going, it will be easier to get there. I’m not pointing fingers here, by the way. This approach hasn’t always been a strength here at Imagine!, and we need to remedy that.
If those of us on the service side of the funding/service equation have a better grip on how our services will meet the goals of acceptance and community contribution, then we can also make a better case for harmonizing funding with services in a way that will truly have a positive impact on individuals with one or more developmental disabilities. Until then, we will always wonder if that number seven will be green the next time we see it.
Then again, what do I know?