The now infamous hundred year storm was just winding up, getting ready to smack Colorado on the backside as parents, rehabilitation professionals and interested citizens drove on wet roads and downpours to arrive on deck at the Arc of Arapahoe-Douglass County’s doorstep. These intrepid adventurers brushed off the rain, shook their multi-colored umbrellas and filled the community room to capacity.
It would have been easy to make excuses on a stormy day and not show up. But, today fifty folks came, another two dozen listened intently on-line to hear wounded warrior, and advocacy guru, Arc Executive Director, Carol Meredith’s presentation on Follow the Money.
Carol promised to take us down the wet and sometimes slippery road of navigating the complex map of how money flows into the various systems meant to support people with disabilities. We would soon learn, the journey can be challenging, confusing and all together frustrating. The flood of information and resources takes a long journey before reaching its destination.
This inaugural “Lunch and Learn” session was sponsored by the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council (I am fortunate to be the Chairperson this year.) and is the brainchild of Council member Tim Hudner. Yeah, Tim!
Carol, a long time advocate, DD Council member and parent has been a pioneering force in system changes for people with disabilities. Look closely at the photo and you will see why we have nicknamed her “wounded warrior”. Notice her new accessory—a serious looking neck brace. Carol had the misfortune to fall from a collapsing ladder as she attempted to clean her gutters from the last, not quite so historic weather system.
With her usual upbeat style, Carol began to describe the road map shown below. Colored circles, connected by crisscrossed lines outlined the maze of support directed at people with disabilities. Each of the many circles has different rules, regulations and even different funding.
No wonder parents, providers and people with disabilities are confused!
Add to this road map the other unmarked and often unknown trails of money including HUD money, individual County Mill Levy funds, natural supports, Home Care Allowance, CO Real Property Expense Assistance and various Social Security programs.
It appears most of us need guidance, a curious nature and great determination to follow the money and actually get to it.Clearly, we are all road warriors in need of a systems “GPS” device. Many attendees knew parts of the funding pathway,s but it became apparent none of us had a complete understanding of the funding terrain.
According to Carol, we need to simplify the system. And, before we attempt to alter the road map, it is important to understand the history of how the system was built.
Back in the 1940’s and 50’s, the foundation for the system was built on a medical model. Over the years as we have learned more about people with disabilities, understanding their needs and capabilities, the system was shaped and adapted towards a new destination, a community and person-centered system.
Not only is the DD system undergoing a paradigm shift, so are our communities. Our conclusion at The Shining Beautiful Series:
• Re-Think Rehab.
• Challenge our assumptions.
• Improve outcomes.
• Design a new system from a 21st Century perspective.
While we did not know at that time the terrible fate many of our Colorado communities would face in the days ahead, as nearly 20 inches of rain fell, bridges were destroyed, roads disappeared and recognized terrain was drastically altered—we know, we are Colorado Strong and are up to the challenge of building a new future for our communities and for people with disabilities.