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Building Pathways to the Future of Supports

by: 
Kim Opsahl, Director of State Partnerships and Special Projects
Kim Opsahl, Director of State Partnerships and Special Projects

ANCOR’s State Association Members are on the front edge of shaping policy and leading change within their state. While much of this work focuses on the issues and challenges of the day, it also focuses strongly on building a pathway to the future through collaboration and partnership. This month, we are featuring a sample of the exciting work our State Associations are leading in their community:

Alaska – As with many states, Alaska has its fair share of challenges related to services for people with disabilities. In a move that the Alaska Association on Developmental Disabilities Executive Director Lizette Stiehr characterizes as “energizing and inspiring,” Alaska has initiated a shared vision “of a flexible system in which each person directs their own supports, based on their strengths and abilities, toward a meaningful life in their home, their job and their community. Our vision includes supported families, professional staff and services available throughout the state now and into the future.” This vision was developed with input from over 200 people including recipients, parents, providers, the state, partners and behavioral health. The main priorities in operationalizing this vision include: every person directs their own supports; services will support lives with meaning; our system values the role of direct support professionals; our system is flexible and simple; and our system uses resources wisely and measures outcomes focused.                                  

To operationalize this vision, Alaska’s DD Collaborative has engaged six workgroups addressing person-directed culture change, work force development, community awareness, legislative engagement, measuring success, and self-advocacy. To learn more, check out this update video or be sure to check out Alaska’s session at the 2018 ANCOR Annual Conference.

Indiana – During the 2017 Indiana General Assembly, INARF, in partnership with the Arc of Indiana, took the lead on advancing legislation establishing a task force to study the overall support needs and support services needed for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The effort was focused on completing a long-overdue assessment of the current system and future needs, with a goal to establish a comprehensive plan for the future.

Convening its first meeting in November, the Task Force for Assessment of Services & Supports for People with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities is actively chaired by Indiana’s Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch. Other taskforce members include self-advocates, families, providers, including INARF President/CEO Steve Cook, and various state agency representatives. In her opening remarks, Lt. Governor Crouch stated that her goal for the taskforce was to meet and exceed the taskforce’s charge and asking members “to bring innovative ideas to the table and thoughts on how to accomplish them for the next ten years.” To learn more, check out this Op-Ed from Lt. Governor Crouch or visit the Taskforce’s website for information on their progress.

Ohio – In Ohio, people with developmental disabilities and their families have repeatedly shared their concerns that Ohio's waiting list for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers is overly complex and in need of simplification. Specifically, the current waiting list confuses people with developmental disabilities and their families, misleads advocates, and hinders efforts by policymakers to direct resources to where they are needed most. For these reasons, the Ohio Provider Resources Association (OPRA) has joined a coalition to modernize Ohio failed waiting list. This coalition includes groups representing people with developmental disabilities, parents, families, advocates, county boards of DD, providers, and the State of Ohio. 

Through the efforts of this coalition and informed by the feedback of people with developmental disabilities and their families, OPRA believe that a new approach to the way Ohio’s HCBS waiver waiting list operates is needed. Information about this campaign – entitled Fix The List – can be found at  http://www.fixthelist.info/.

In addition, OPRA recently announced another campaign – DSPOhio – which is a unique, statewide Direct Support Professional (DSP) recruitment effort that combines targeted multi-media advertising to brand the term DSP with an on-line DSPOhio job-site that connects potential employees with developmental disability provider employers. OPRA launched DSPOhio in direct response to Ohio’s developmental disability system’s number one challenge-the direct support workforce crisis. Their goal is to effectively recruit DSPs on an ongoing basis through a process of increasing awareness of and familiarity with the important and rewarding role of providing direct supports to individuals with developmental disabilities. The campaign is singularly purposed to find and attract individuals across Ohio who may wish to be a DSP and help them immediately connect to an employing provider of their choice. To learn more, visit DSPOhio.

Please stay tuned for future LINKS issues, as we continue to feature the positive impact of our State Association members and what they are doing to make a difference every day.

Kim Opsahl is ANCOR's Director of State Partnerships and Special Projects. She can be reached at kopsahl@ancor.org.