Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pick Up the Pieces

Last week I attended the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services (NASDDDS) Conference held in Sacramento, CA. During the conference, I was struck by a few things: 1) it is almost universally acknowledged that the system of funding and delivering services to individuals with developmental disabilities is unsustainable when considering the declining workforce, the need for service and support, and growing waitlists; 2) it is also well acknowledged that the variety of emerging technologies offer some solution to the growing challenges; 3) “person centered planning,” although cautiously welcomed by the NASDDDS membership, has become a federal mandate; and 4) everybody seems to be wondering what to do next.

I was also struck by the fact that examples of “what to do next” so many in attendance were seeking are actually already there. We already have the pieces of the puzzle; we just need to put the pieces together.

Can't see the video? Click here.

What do I mean by this? Well, for those of you who don’t know, the responsibility for creating the systems that fund and deliver services for some of our most vulnerable citizens lies in the hands of individual states. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in a wide variety of unique systems throughout the country. And while no one state seems to have figured out how all the pieces should go together, many states do have single pieces in their systems that work remarkably well.

Here are a few examples:

Looking for a state that has been successful at accessing federal financial participation with county funded collaboration to increase the amount of dollars available for services? Check out Missouri’s Partnership for Hope.

Looking for a state that has produced remarkable outcomes when comparing relative wealth (ranked 4th) to their limited funding (ranked 47th)? Check out Colorado.

Looking for a state that has figured out how to provide successful employment services? Check out Oklahoma.

Which states have figured out how to incorporate remote monitoring into their services? Try Ohio or Minnesota.

Looking for a state with a policy requiring that employment in integrated work settings be the first and priority option explored in service planning? Try Oregon.

My point is that while there is indeed a crisis in the field of services for people with intellectual disabilities, there are workable solutions right in front of us. The overall mood of the NASDDDS conference was somber, but I actually came away feeling exhilarated at the opportunities I see. The answers are out there – I believe that firmly.

However, it is time to stop looking at the table full of puzzle pieces and asking “what am I supposed to do?” It is time to get our Average White Band on and begin to pick up the pieces.

Can't see the video? Click here.

Only by picking up the pieces and figuring out how to put them together will we be able to solve the puzzle.

Then again, what do I know?

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