$1.5 million five-year grant to create an Alternatives to Guardianship Youth Resource Center

The US Federal Administration for Community Living (ACL) has opened a new funding opportunity to provide support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to the fullest extent possible based upon their capabilities, to become their own self advocates and to transition to adulthood with less restrictive decisional supports. The ability for a person living with a developmental delay to articulate one’s needs and make informed decisions about the supports necessary to meet those needs is an important civil right which should be guaranteed for all Americans.

How We Got Here

Growing up on Staten Island in the 1960’s my family and I would periodically drive past what appeared to be an idyllic campus-like facility with large green lawns and stately brick buildings. It wasn’t until 1972 when a young attorney turned aspiring reporter jumped a fence with a camera crew and was let into the facility by a concerned staff member that we learned about the horrors of the Willowbrook State School and the conditions in which we “cared for” individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For those of you who have never seen the video from Geraldo Rivera’s expose of Willowbrook it is widely available online and should be required viewing for anyone working in a human services field.

Although it took until 1987 for Willowbrook to fully shut down, the public exposure and subsequent legal cases set in motion the transition of people with disabilities into community-based settings and the establishment of important precedents guaranteeing humane and ethical treatment within such settings.

Since Then

While tremendous progress has been made, individuals with disabilities were generally not viewed as individuals with unique preferences. The service model linked their clinical and other support services to the residential or day program to which they were assigned. Reimbursement to the agency operating the program was tied to the delivery of such services without regard to the needs and/or preferences of the program participant.

Conflict Free Case Management

It was not until the 1990’s and, in New York State the advent of the Home & Community Based Waiver, that people with disabilities began to be viewed as individuals and the concept of the individualized service plan was established. Unfortunately, such service planning usually put the needs of agencies as primary in their need to fill open slots. The wishes of the individual became secondary. This prompted New York State to move to a new model of “Conflict Free Case Management.” Still, most service plans were deficient and did not meet this standard.

Although it has taken two decades since Olmstead, it is gratifying to see this new source of funding.

Funding Opportunity

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has opened a new funding opportunity on Alternatives to Guardianship Youth Resource Center.

Research shows the majority (57 percent) of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (ID/DD) ages 18 to 22 receiving publicly funded services have guardians.

This Center will work to divert high school students with ID/DD away from guardianship to less restrictive decisional supports. The target audience for this information includes youth with ID/DD, parents and caregivers of high school students with ID/DD, special education teachers, education administrators, advocates, vocational rehabilitation counselors, guidance counselors, and school district officials. 

ACL seeks to fund one five-year grant to create an Alternatives to Guardianship Youth Resource Center (totaling $1.5 million). As a result of funding this Center, expects that:

  • More students with ID/DD will have more decisional options, such as Powers of Attorney, supported-decision-making (SDM), joint bank accounts, bill paying services, and medical or educational release forms, on completion of high school;
  • Fewer young adults with ID/DD will be subject to guardianship;
  • The public will become more knowledgeable of alternatives to guardianship; and
  • Youth will become more independent by gaining job experience and personal responsibilities.

To achieve these outcomes, the grantee will develop partnerships, conduct background research on alternatives to guardianship, develop resources and conduct outreach, create a community of practice, conduct youth leadership development, evaluate the project, and establish sustainability of these activities. 

View more details and application instructions.

Please set a time with LAPA to explore if this grant opportunity is a fit for you. We’d like to help you with the application process. 

This grant opportunity closes on June 29, 2020.

“The difference between a good grant application and a great one that gets funded may be just a few points in the final scoring review. Using senior grant officers with extensive program background will give you those extra points needed to secure the award.”

Laurence A. Pagnoni, Chairman

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

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