The values included in the DD Act are beautifully written and their meaning is the driving force behind the work the Council does each and every day. Below are just a few of the values included in the Act.
“Disability is a natural part of the human experience that does not diminish the right of individuals with developmental disabilities to live independently, to exert control and choice over their own lives, and to fully participate in and contribute to their communities through full integration and inclusion in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream of United States society.”
“Individuals with developmental disabilities, including those with the most severe developmental disabilities, are capable of self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life, but often require the provision of community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance.”
“Individuals with developmental disabilities and their families have competencies, capabilities, and personal goals that should be recognized, supported, and encouraged, and any assistance to such individuals should be provided in an individualized manner, consistent with the unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, and capabilities of such individuals.”
“Communities are enriched by the full and active participation and contributions of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.”
“Services, supports, and other assistance should be provided in a manner that demonstrates respect for individual dignity, personal preferences, and cultural differences.”
The Value of Change
Historically, substantial financial resources were provided to house individuals with disabilities in institutional settings away from their families, homes, and communities. Few resources were provided to assist families who chose to keep their children with developmental disabilities at home or to assist adults with developmental disabilities in achieving independence and employment in their communities.
Acknowledging the inherent fallacies of traditional service systems, Congress enacted legislation creating DD Councils to engage in advocacy, capacity building and systems change activities and contribute to a coordinated, individual- and family-centered, and individual- and family-directed comprehensive system of community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that enable individuals with developmental disabilities to exercise self-determination, be independent, be productive, and be integrated and included in all facets of community life.
In Louisiana, as in other states, services were traditionally provided in institutions or other congregate settings, while services available to people in their own homes in the community were basically non-existent. That began to change in 1988 when the Council initiated the Community and Family Support Movement and Act 378, passed in 1989 (Community and Family Support System). Louisiana’s individual and family support programs and comprehensive home and community-based waiver are some of the best in the nation. The state’s four waivers for people with developmental disabilities serve appoximately 12,000 people. Louisiana also reduced its state institutions from nine to one in seven years.
However, much remains to be done. The number of people waiting for waiver services is unconscionable and inexcusable (End the Wait!) and thousands of people with developmental disabilities still live in private residential facilities (large and small). Most adults with developmental disabilities don’t work in competitive jobs in the community. There are new challenges for students with disabilities and their families in the educational system.
Values for The Future
The mission of the Council is to lead and promote advocacy, capacity building, and systemic change to improve the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
Through advocacy, capacity building and systems change activities, the Council works to assure that all persons with developmental disabilities receive high quality and appropriate supports to meet their needs, and the opportunities necessary to enable them to achieve their maximum potential through increased:
- self determination
- integration, and
- inclusion in all facets of community life.
The Council seeks the adoption of flexible approaches – which match supports to a person’s age, needs and life circumstances – through the redirection of existing resources and the abandonment of segregated approaches where one lives, works, goes to school and spends their leisure time.
The major resources of the Council are concentrated on initiatives that promote supports to enable children and adults with developmental disabilities to be fully included in their communities.
This focus shall continue until such time as this vision becomes matter of fact realities for every man, woman and child with a developmental disability in Louisiana.