Monday, September 12, 2011

Baby You Can Drive My Car (As Long As You Are Not Providing Transportation Services)

One of the many regulatory agencies that Imagine! is beholden to has rules regarding transportation of the individuals served by Imagine!. On my mind today are the rules directed toward employees of Imagine! who are using their personal vehicles to transport the people we serve, or non-employees providing transportation on behalf of Imagine! for the individuals we serve.

Sure, everyone should have a first aid kit, tools for inclement weather, and keep records of all maintenance performed on their vehicle. That’s what our grandfathers told us to do. It was not regulated by the government, nor shared with your employer or company for whom you might volunteer. The requirements go far beyond what a registered car owner would have to meet if the passenger didn’t have a developmental disability.

At first glance, that may seem like it makes sense – like it is a good protective measure. But upon further inspection, I think it is emblematic of how our service system in Colorado has become misdirected and now regulates to the exception rather than the rule.

What do I mean by that? Well, if I want to drive my registered car in Colorado there is a set of standards I must meet, such as: I need to have insurance, I need my emissions checked, my taillights need to be in working order, etc. As a member of my community, I accept that there are rules in place that I must meet in order to be allowed to use my vehicle. I accept that my car shouldn’t look like this:

Can't see the video? Click here.

So if I am at work and I need to travel to a different location I can jump in with a co-worker who is driving a typical registered vehicle and off we go. If I invite a person who is receiving services, we have to engage the regulatory checks and balances and document additional information in a separate record about the registered vehicle.

As a society, through the various laws that have been enacted over the years by various government representatives elected by the public, we have come to a general agreement on the balance of the risks and responsibilities we are willing to bear for the privilege of owning a registered vehicle.

And here is where these rules miss the point, in my opinion. Most organizations that serve individuals with one or more developmental disabilities have a goal of community inclusion for those they serve. Community inclusion isn’t a blank check, however. Being part of a community also means accepting certain risks and responsibilities.

If we truly believe in community inclusion for those we serve, we have to acknowledge that we can’t regulate away all of the risks that come with that honor.

It doesn’t make any sense to me that an employee of Imagine! can drive to work in a car that is perfectly acceptable under one set of rules (rules that apply to the majority of citizens), but that same car may not be acceptable to transport a client because of a different set of rules.

Don’t get me wrong. I know we serve a vulnerable population, and a good deal of the rules and regulations regarding our services that we abide by are perfectly reasonable. But rules like the ones I just described only end up making the task of achieving true community inclusion for those we serve that much more difficult.

By the way – my first aid kit is missing band aids. Please don’t tell my grandfather.

Then again, what do I know?

No comments:

Post a Comment