Emerging & Promising Practices
In the past, people with disabilities and their families who asked for assistance with finding community supports, found that the choices were generally quite limited. If a young adult with a disability needed daily assistance with bathing, for example, the only option for assistance the local government agency would offer would be a group or nursing home that provided staff to assist with personal care that the young adult would have to move to.
Today, regardless of the type of disability a young adult may have, many local government agencies are offering individuals with disabilities and their families “individual budgets” they can use to purchase the kind of support they want and need. Individual budgets are determined by the dollar amount it would cost the government to support the person in a traditional service setting. For example, the daily cost of living in a group home would be calculated, and then the disabled person would be offered that amount of money or slightly less to arrange the supports they need to stay in their home or live where they want. Individual budgets have been used by persons with developmental disabilities and their families in many areas around the United States.
Many school districts and other community agencies serving persons with disabilities are holding person-centered planning meetings with individual young adults to assist them in creating a dream for their future and a plan on how to get there. These planning meetings are ideally used as a precursor to a traditional IEP meeting, and are usually attended by family members and close friends of the young adult, including professionals to whom the person may feel especially close. There are several different models or approaches to assist young adults with disabilities to develop a person-centered plan.
In the past, supports for community living and most other supports for people with disabilities were based on a deficit model. This model indicated that people with disabilities should receive support and assistance based on the idea that something was wrong with them. Services were regulated by professionals who were supposed to know better than the person and his/her family about the best course to take.
Today, many professionals are becoming increasingly aware that supports for community living need to be “person-centered,” meaning they are developed for individuals based on their strengths and plans for the future, while also taking into account their needs for supports. The Quality Mall Web site explains and has many examples of what makes supports “person centered.” You can view many resources at this site as well as receive an overview of person-centered planning.
Research and Training Center on Community Living - Institute on Community Integration (n.d.). Quality Mall Web site. Retrieved from http://www.qualitymall.org/
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