The discussion of an individual and family support system in Louisiana began during the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council‘s first Community Integration Conference in 1988. Family members and adults with developmental disabilities heard presentations on individual and family supports provided by state-of-the-art programs across the country.
With this information as a guide, a vision was created of a service system that provides supports to families as they care for their children at home and for adults living in their own homes. The Council created Louisiana Citizens for Action NOW (LaCAN) to organize a group of parents, adults with disabilities and advocates to share this vision across the state. Regional forums were held to present the vision statements and to gather comments from individuals who would use the proposed services. These visions were drafted into legislation and Act 378 was passed in 1989.
Act 378 called for the development of a plan for a comprehensive system of individualized supports, and provided for implementation of the plan by the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Social Services. Act 378 specified that an array of services would be made available to families and adults. The plan was approved by the legislature and the first services were funded beginning in July of 1991.
The following two basic principles outlined in Act 378 are the foundation of the Community and Family Support System Plan:
- Children, regardless of the severity of their disability, need families and enduring relationships with adults in a nurturing home environment. As with all children, children with developmental disabilities need families and family relationships to develop to their full potential.
- Adults with developmental disabilities should be afforded the opportunity to make decisions for themselves and to live in typical homes and communities where they can exercise their full rights and responsibilities as citizens.