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Intellectual Disabilities Services Person Centered Planning

What is “Person Centered Planning?”

Eileen E. Scott
Self Determination Express Newsletter
Volume 3, Issue 2

Two Women Talking

Along with the many reasons Person Centered Planning is used as a planning strategy, it is now additionally being viewed by many as a prerequisite to accessing Self Determination dollars. In order for people with developmental disabilities to receive money through the Self Determination initiative, in Dauphin County, they must participate in some type of planning that helps them map out a desirable future and establish a budget in order to purchases supports and services that the person needs. This is typically done by using one of the many tools that fall under the umbrella heading of “Person Centered Planning.”

Person Centered Planning is an opportunity to develop strategies in the hope that “no more of the same thing” continues to happen in a person’s life, in a family, in an organization or within a work team. Person Centered Planning uses a constellation of tools (PATH, MAPS, Essential Lifestyle Planning, Personal Futures Planning, Thriving In My Community, and many more) to help a person, a family, a work team, etc. to determine what is a desirable future and develop action steps to get there.

These tools are not static documents that are tucked away in a binder or file. They are “life” oriented. They follow the life of the focus person, family or team and continually change as the life or work events change. When used responsibly, the tools of Person Centered Planning are bright, energetic, graphic, powerful and intensely individualized, yet interdependent. The process stresses the concept that no one goes through life alone. We all rely on others as we navigate through our lives and each tool provides the opportunity to identify those people that will walk with us on that life or work journey.

It is important to clarify that the tools, though integral to the process, are themselves not all encompassing of Person Centered Planning. The process also encourages the development of a circle of support (a group of people who are vested in the focus person’s life). Sometimes it is the coming together that instigates the spiraling of growth that occurs in a person’s life, more so than any tool itself. That said, each of the tools has its unique attributes and benefits in any given situation.

Self Determination is currently being viewed as a significant philosophical change in the way supports are offered to people with developmental disabilities. The hope of the Self Determination initiative is to reverse the ways of the traditional assignment of power to build a foundation for people with disabilities and their families to design and determine their own future. Among other things, this means a restructuring of the way money is provided to people so that they can then purchase the supports that they truly need.

Currently, throughout the state of Pennsylvania, twenty-eight counties are working to restructure their current system of support to people with developmental disabilities to include the four basic principles that make-up the foundation of the self determination initiative. They are: a) people have the FREEDOM to determine how they will live their lives, where and with whom, b) people have the AUTHORITY and CONTROL of the resources needed for their support, c) people will assume the RESPONSIBILITY for their decisions and actions, and d) people will receive SUPPORT to walk the journey. This will, no doubt, be a learning process for all of these twenty-eight counties as they begin to reverse the traditional assignment of power and people with developmental disabilities and their families begin to plan, create and implement (some for the very first time in their lives) the life that they have for so long desired and never knew was possible.

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