Networking; and SDP tips
What first made you interested in Self Determination? Why did you decide to join the Local Advisory Committee?
In January 2015 I heard a little about self-determination, but I really did not know the legal specifics. However, this new service model sounded intriguing especially since I had been on a journey seeking how to empower my daughter to grow in maximizing her gifts and potential, and to develop as a self-advocate.
As a result, when I heard that interviews were being conducted to select members for a local Self-Determination Advisory Committee (SDAC) for our regional center, I was definitely interested. My applying to serve initially grew from a desire to get in the loop to stay abreast of legislation, as well as from a commitment to network strategically with other advocates. Attending the local regional center SDAC meetings, which are open to the public, has definitely exceeded my expectations, for they are a rich source of information not only regarding the Self-Determination Program (SDP), but also an opportunity to learn from the other participants and presenters about available trainings and legislative trends. As a result my family has also become introduced to supported decision-making, housing opportunities, ABLE accounts, the Gathering (person-centered planning), and more. Networking can be transformational!
What will be done differently once you begin Self Determination (meaning, how will planning look different, how will services look different?)
On traditional services, my daughter receives respite, job coaching, and funding for trainings; also she has been on a waiting list for independent living classes for the past two years. Now that she has been selected for the program, instead of looking for services to address her deficits, we are looking at her hopes and dreams and are seeking to work toward her personal goals related to broadening employment skills, empowering for advocacy, becoming more healthy and fit, and putting down roots in the community. So, for example, rather than utilizing in-home respite services, my daughter plans to schedule bus adventures with a neighbor who is skilled in utilizing public transportation to get to the mall or other points of interest.
What is your advice to other parents/self advocates regarding Self-Determination?
- In choosing someone to help you with person-centered planning make sure that the document you will end up with will be in a format (e.g., .docx or .txt) that you will be able to edit on your own in the future –as you ( = the self-advocate) or your son or daughter revisits this process each year. Also be wary of working with someone who has generic goals to plug into the PCP rather than truly listening to the participant and creating an authentically individualized person-centered plan.
Fees should be based on the complexity of participant’s profile, ability to sit through extended meeting(s), number of meetings needed, and other factors. I would be hesitant to work with someone who automatically charges a flat $2,500 fee —the maximum amount that regional centers will cover for a first time PCP— without really knowing anything about you (the participant).
- Are you feeling stressed as you search for just the right persons to help you with your PCP, spending plan, financial management, or independent facilitation, etc.?
Relax and realize that you are not alone; we are all learning the ropes together. Also remember that as you gain more experience in understanding your (the participant’s) vision and how this program can support your goal-oriented action plans, the process will become less of a hurdle.
Finally, here are some tips for navigating self-determination:
- Reach out to others going through this process; attend your local regional center Self-Determination Advisory Committee meetings (your case coordinator will be able to get you the schedule).
- Be proactive! Study the templates and examples in the newly revised Think Outside the Box: Information and Resources on California’s New Self-Determination Program or Profiles in Self-Determination: Inspiration for a Full Life (available on either the Disability Voices United or Autism Society of Los Angeles websites).
- Get informed! State Council on Developmental Disabilities and other organizations are offering independent facilitator, person-centered plan trainings, and even a more in-depth workshop, “Digging Deeper Into Self Determination.“ Many of these events are even free although advanced registration is required.
- Take advantage of online forums such as the California Self-Determination Program Forum (on Facebook). Note: some SDP participants from certain regional centers may also have their own networks on Facebook or other social media that are more geographically relevant. Also consider joining the newly launched self-determination forum at disabilityvoicesunited.org › interchange
- For parents of a son or daughter in the program:
We need to learn to actively “listen” to our loved ones, reading their cues/responses, regardless whether they are verbally communicative. Remember it is crucial to view them as being capable; don’t limit them by our own fear or assumptions. Instead, follow their lead as to what is meaningful to them and important for them as you reflect together on what learning experiences would help them to continue developing meaningful skills. Consider “culturally valued analog” strategies, i.e., “How would anyone else get X done?” or “Who and/or what would typically meet this need in ‘ordinary land’?” http://pearl.staffingoptions.com.au/Article/Index/1152
Jane Sherwin, Resourcing Your Life Your Choice Project, 2014.