WE HAVE CHARTED A COURSE FOR CHANGE AND IT BEGINS BY REFUSING TO BE LIMITED BY WHAT IS, AND SEEING WHAT CAN BE
In early 2005, the Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities (BCBDD) embarked upon a journey of discovery. As the lead agency in providing or connecting people with disabilities to supports and services, it began noticing a trend. Older adults with disabilities who had sought very little support began to need more services as their families and caregivers began aging and younger adults and their families were asking for services and supports outside of the traditional facility-based model. They wanted opportunities “without walls,” the kind found in the community.
During this same period of time, sweeping changes in the MRDD system also required County Boards of Developmental Disabilities to re-evaluate their practices and modify them to comply with legislative rules. It was necessary to begin an analysis of how the Belmont County Board was conducting business and if that way of doing business could be sustained in an era of rising costs and static or declining financial resources. Adjusting to the Medicaid environment and free choice of provider were added to the many changes the Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities faced.
The Board created an “Open Door” group made up of administrators and others. This team was charged with analyzing the current system and finding out what it would take to overcome the challenges it faced while improving life for people with disabilities. Instead of advancing or developing “programs,” Belmont CBDD resolved to focus on the person and what he or she wanted. The analysis included a survey that was distributed to family members. It revealed a need and desire for services that were not being offered. People were struggling to create a life like everyone else’s in the community, but the choices were few. There were organizational and attitudinal barriers everywhere they turned. They wanted the Board to help them overcome the challenges by looking at a new way of doing things.
This sounded a lot like Self-Determination, something the Belmont County Board had discussed for several years, but not practiced. Self-Determination, the principle that gives individuals and families the authority to choose what they want for their lives and control over dollars spent on their behalf, would be a paradigm shift for the Board. It was a necessary shift, however, if people with disabilities were to have a life of meaning. The team then set out to find ways for the Board to go from being a provider of programs and services that were clearly not meeting people’s needs, to one that locates or facilitates opportunities in the community that people said they wanted. This would be done at the direction of each person as they began creating a self-determined life.
GOOD TO GREAT
The Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities studied the Good to Great business model created by Jim Collins and answered three questions in what Collins calls The Three Circles of the “Hedgehog Concept.”
WHAT ARE YOU DEEPLY PASSIONATE ABOUT?
The Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities is passionate about people having control over their lives.
The Belmont County Board resolves to fully implement Self-Determination, giving individuals and families authority and control over resources spent on their behalf. We will develop Person-Centered Plans that foster independence. We will help people become of the community through the discovery of opportunities for living.
WHAT CAN YOU BE THE BEST AT?
The Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities can be the best at building community relationships
We will develop relationships that bring meaning into people’s lives; partnering with the community and reaching out to civic organizations, providers, other agencies, families and individuals.
WHAT WILL ENABLE SERVICES TO GROW?
The Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities believes that services will grow by using natural and community resources effectively and efficiently.
We will impact the cost of doing business by assessing every aspect of the County Board for efficiency; using natural and community supports first; ensuring maximum reimbursements; and discovering new funding sources (grants).
CLEAR SENSE OF PURPOSE
Following this analysis, some questions remained. How could we build a quality Belmont County Board with a clear sense of purpose, one that would meet the current and future needs of individuals with developmental disabilities in Belmont County? How could we help people create a life of worth and meaning, and do so without an increase in funding?
The number of people needing services was growing, yet funding was not projected to match that growth. We asked a critical question: How can the Board serve more people with less money in the future? The answer was found in an initiative widely practiced in other states called Self-Determination. Successful in helping people with disabilities achieve more control over their lives, Self-Determination also improves efficiency and effectiveness in the organizations and systems that support them.
To learn how Self-Determination could improve people’s lives and help the Belmont County Board serve them better, the board enlisted the services of Derrick Dufresne, a foremost authority on the subject.
Dufresne provided two intensive trainings for team leaders in late 2006. The first one offered new insight into self-determination and ways to help people achieve it. The other was a strategic planning session where participants were asked to picture the Belmont County Board in 2016. Through this exercise, the vision was clear: The Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities would go from being the pilot in the lives of people with disabilities to a navigator, helping them chart a course for their journey through life. In turn, people with disabilities would become actively engaged in planning their own lives. They would experience more freedom and take on more responsibility, shedding the label of consumer and putting on the mantle of citizen as they became of the community. This would become the Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ measure of success for the people it serves.
Committed to forwarding only initiatives that would be rooted in Self-Determination and its principles of Freedom, Authority, Support, Responsibility, and Confirmation, the following set of beliefs was written.
At the Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities, we believe…
- That all people should be able to choose the things they need and want for their lives.
- That people should have the power to say where and how the dollars are spent on their behalf.
- That our purpose is to coordinate services chosen by the person in the most meaningful way possible.
- That all people have something to offer to others and diversity makes for a better community.
- That people with disabilities and their families must lead in this new way of thinking as they advocate for themselves and others.
New Mission Statement and Core Values
As 2006 drew to a close, another team was assembled to develop a new mission statement that would better communicate the Board’s vision for the future. Using information and ideas expressed in the Self-Determination trainings and other discussions, the team developed a new statement:
To encourage, support and respect people
on their journey through life.
To accomplish the mission, the following set of values was adopted:
We value people and the choices they make for their lives.
We value the human spirit and the potential that lies within each person.
We value supports that help people live, learn, love and have a life of their choosing.
We value relationships that develop from common bonds and interests.
We value Self-Determination and its dream about life that goes beyond basic needs.
The Board adopted its new mission statement and set of values in February 2007. In so doing, it committed to using The Three Circles and this set of values as the measure by which decisions on all levels would be based.
In order to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities and create a Board that could sustain itself in the future, a commitment was made to discover opportunities for personal growth in the community. The Board resolved to reach out and make the connections necessary so people could make informed decisions about their lives, the choices available, and other options that could be developed to meet their individual needs.
As we identify the needs and priorities of every person served, implementing the principles of self-determination, the focus will be on improving quality of life and fostering independence. As we look for more natural and familial supports and resources in the community, we will lessen dependence on decreasing funding sources and increase the quality of supports. The Board will facilitate connection with community resources and give people the power to choose what they want and support them in those choices.
DREAMS AND POSSIBILITIES
The Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities is focused on being the best at what it can do – building community relationships. This is fueled by our passion for people to have control over their lives.
We have charted a course for change and it begins by refusing to be limited by what is, and seeing what can be. We are challenging ourselves and others to go beyond the boundaries of the “system” and see possibilities wherever they may be found. Whether the dream is going to school, working, or owning a home, Belmont CBDD is committed to using every resource and method available to help people with disabilities achieve their dreams.
In Martin Luther King’s famous Civil Rights speech delivered in 1963, he talked with passion about his dream of equality for people of all races and nationalities. We, too, have a dream of equality for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in 2007 and beyond. Our dream is that they will be viewed as equal and contributing members of the community and respected for who they are and what they can do.