One huge obstical to macro change is found with micro financial handcuffs. That is, most programs for people with disabilities are paid for by individual accounts or billings. Programs are reimbursed on an individual basis and these funds are often tied to individual skill or functionality issues. If the consumer shows some type of gain, the organization is rewarded. Further, many of these contracts are pedicated on a ratio or "economy of scale" framework. The individual reimbursement is so low, that services need to be grouped in order to make staff costs balance. This is why many programs have 2 staff scheduled to support 6 or 7 consumers.
These financial handcuffs are formidable for we leaders, but not insurmontable. Leaders need to reframe what we measure, and continue to find ways to address the "ratio" framework and individualize services as best we can. If we look to measure community engagement patterns and social capital connections we can begin to shift the mentality of funders, and reorient everyone to what is more important; relationships over functional skills. As for ratios, we might look to adjust the roles that staff play having some DSP hold down the fort, while others look for places and people connections.
There are engagement measures out there and the Interdependence Network has been developing more capacity and experience with these tools. Still, before any of this happens, leaders must admit that people they serve remain isolated, and disconnected from the greater community. In spite (or maybe because of) our programs the community continues to believe that they need not be involved, because there are programs that know what is best for "these people."
This is all not easy, but it is essential that we leaders begin to establish a consistent and cogent macro, community strategy. Our agencies reflect what we emphasize. I am anxious, however, to see that leaders have more opportunity to talk about these financial handcuffs and find ways/means to address them. Soon I will upload a "white paper" on what leaders can do, so keep an eye out on my website for more thoughts, or better yet, share some of your own thoughts on this issue. Know too, that the Interdependence Network, www.buildingsocialcapital.org, plans to host a symposium on this issue, specifically designed for leaders, administrators, and leaders to discuss and explore.
Keep your eye out for these things and let's plan to step up to the plate and lead fundamental change!