Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More Bang For The Buck

United Cerebral Palsy’s annual report, “The Case for Inclusion,” ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) on outcomes for Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

So how is Colorado doing, according to the UCP report? Very well, thank you very much. Here are some rankings that may be of interest. Colorado:
  • Ranked 9th in promoting independence 
  • Ranked 14th in tracking health and safety 
  • Ranked 9th in promoting productivity (employment) 
  • Ranked 24th in reaching those in need 
Four very important categories, two of which Colorado ranked in the top 10, one in the top 15, and one in the top half.

I’m not sharing this to celebrate or offer an “attaboy,” however.

It must be pointed out that Colorado achieved these positive rankings despite the fact that, according to the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities’ “State of the States in Developmental Disabilities,” Colorado:
  • Ranked 33rd for tax burden 
  • Ranked 48th in fiscal effort 
When you compare the amount of money spent on services for individuals with I/DD in Colorado to the outcomes of those services, one thing is abundantly clear: Colorado is getting a heck of a bang for its buck. And the Coleman stats are from the year 2013. From 2013 – 2016, service rates dropped 15% below the Consumer Price Index, meaning that the bargain is even greater than the stats above indicate. By almost any metric, the successes in Colorado’s system of serving people with I/DD compared to the funding for those services are astounding.

And yet.

And yet we continue to struggle to completely understand the optimum service delivery design for the I/DD system in Colorado. Too many people either don’t know how successful this state is in outcomes versus effort, or they are just ignoring the facts. I have yet to see an example of a state with a better record when it comes to providing consistently positive results for such consistently little economic effort. Yet having said this, these results are not because of design effort, but rather of mission driven organizations squeezing every ounce of value out of very limited resources.

I have to wonder, with what we are currently able to do, and what we have done in the past, can we continue to improve the lives of those we serve in the face of a significant lack of funding when compared to other areas of the country? I also wonder, when the next report comes out of United Cerebral Palsy, will we looking at completely different rankings?

Then again, what do I know?

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