April 14, 2005 Meeting

The second video-conference meeting of the Disability Services Advisory Committee was held on April 14, 2005. A list of members participating is attached to this summary.

Co-Chair Nominations and Election

At the first DSAC meeting a Co-Chair nominating committee had been created. It included Brian Rubin, Rita Burke, Willie Gunther, Audrey McCrimon, Anne Marie Murphy, Chris Fitchner and Grace Hou. The nominating committee received six (6) nominees. Of those, it agreed to nominate Art Dykstra and Ann Ford as the DSAC Co-Chairs. These two people were formally nominated and approved by voice vote at the beginning of this meeting. The direction of the meeting was then accepted by the Co-chairs. This was done in accordance with the legislation that created the DSAC.

Administration Letter

At the first DSAC meeting there was strong support for a public commitment by the Administration to implementing the Olmstead decision. This was in large measure a by-product of frustration experienced on the part of many who had been part of previous Olmstead-related or similar policy groups whose work product had never been accepted, endorsed or implemented. It was further proposed that the Governor be encouraged to publicly endorse a formal proposal that was being submitted by some governors at the National Governor's Association meetings. At the end of the first meeting of the DSAC a number of participants had indicated that without such a public commitment, it would be difficult to invest the time and energy in developing the required Implementation Plan without such a commitment.

At this meeting, the co-chairs furnished a letter from Governor Blagojevich to the DSAC that offered tenets for the committee to work from. This letter provided strong statements of support for community supports and services and accommodating choice when people chose to leave an institution. This letter was distributed to the DSAC, with a signed copy made available by the end of the meeting (see attached copy).

It was clear that the letter signed by the Governor was considered a new public policy statement. However, many of the advocates and community representatives did not feel it was a strong enough statement, and acknowledged that it did not formally endorse the proposal that had been submitted to the NGA by other groups. It also did not clarify actions to be taken, allowing too many "escape clauses". A point regarding decreasing cost also needed to be explained. It was acknowledged that this did represent the first such public policy statement by the Governor. It was accepted as a starting point for the DSAC development of the required implementation plan, and one that a number of advocates and community members felt offered leverage that did not exist with previous efforts.

It was made clear that the DSAC was created to develop an implementation plan in accordance with the enabling legislation. Those advocates or community members who continued to feel a need to more directly impact the Administration's public position on related issues, including a meeting with the Governor, were encouraged to seek access through means other than the public DSAC meetings. The DSAC would not be expected to resolve those long-standing issues.

Policy Direction Statements

At the end of the first DSAC meeting the state agencies were strongly urged to draft the positions that they felt best represented its approach to setting or articulating the policy that would lead to a successful implementation plan. A set of policy direction statements and recommendations was circulated to the DSAC in advance of this meeting. This draft was developed by state agency staff and revised in discussion with the DSAC co-chairs.

The DSAC discussed the draft policy statements. The discussion was at times quite animated and robust. Great ideas were placed in play and many of the issues in the policy direction statements were clarified. Of all that discussion a few key issues or reactions are expected to provide direction for the next iteration:

  • The language needed to more clearly be tied to language reflecting the Olmstead decision and the Implementation Plan, as one DSAC member put it, "it is too vague, it doesn't clearly state that the community has to get better"
  • The policy directions needed to clearly provide leadership and indicate that these are major system changes that, in many cases, would not happen without the impetus of the DSAC legislation or Olmstead
  • The policy direction statements could work if there was an overarching "strategic imperative" that indicated a bold commitment to compliance with the Olmstead decision and the DSAC legislation, use of the "Olmstead framework" was suggested. (A spirited discussion ensued regarding the interpretation of the Olmstead decision and framework. It was agreed that the conceptual framework and some publicly recognized language from Olmstead-related materials would be used.)
  • A concern was raised that the policy directions - and DSAC discussions in general - may not properly acknowledge elders
  • Many DSAC members commented on the need to review the action steps before it was possible to truly sense whether or not the statements and recommendations were adequate. It was agreed that the Departments would fill these sections out before the next meeting.
  • It was recommended that the previously shared Olmstead-related documents could be used as a guide in the Department's reframing of these policy directions. This was not to incorporate the conclusions or statements, but to make the revisions more productive and user-friendly to the DSAC members that have been working on this issue for years.

The Co-chairs recommended that ad-hoc small groups work with them and the Department to make the revisions that were generated by the DSAC discussion. Although some DSAC members felt this was the responsibility of the state staff involved, it was agreed that the passion and focus of the final work product would be enhanced by an infusion of thinking and language from outside the various departments - if only to ensure the proper person-based outcome focus.

DSAC Process Items

It was agreed that all materials for future meetings would be distributed via email. If any DSAC members did not have access to email, the Department would make arrangements to deliver hard-copies to them. It was also urged that the materials for any future meeting be circulated at least a week in advance. The Department agreed to try to make that happen.

It was agreed that the DSAC would strive for consensus whenever possible. It was also clear that involved issues would on occasion lead to impasses that meant a general consensus was not possible. It was recommended that significant issues be put to some type of recorded "vote" to allow the project documents to reflect the level of consensus on key issues. While there was caution regarding the inclusion of "minority reports" it was agreed that care would be taken to record those issues of continuing concern that kept some DSAC members from endorsing any given item. No decision was made as to whether or not "Robert's Rules" should be used. The Co-chairs agreed to take this issue under advisement.

The role of the DSAC was clarified as being "advisory" to the Departments. However, legislative language also clearly indicates that the final Implementation Plan should be considered its work product. This seeming inconsistency was not resolved at this meeting.

It was agreed that the staff supporting the DSAC would continuously compare work products and actions taken with the enabling legislation to ensure that the work product and process are consistent with performance as outlined there.

It was agreed that the Co-Chairs and some Department staff would reach out to DSAC members to help make sure that the intent and conceptual framework of the materials is well understood. This was recommended for 2 reasons. First, people not dealing with the material on a regular basis may not understand its context or content. Second, many members of DSAC do not expect the Departments to be as fully invested in the same outcomes as some members who are advocates and community members. A bit of discussion may help deflect some of the time spent in the first two meetings making DSAC members feel comfortable that the Departments are working in good faith.

Next Steps

A small group will be selected by the Co-Chairs to take the Policy Directions, the 3 reports previously shared (Equip for Equality, Access, and the Nat'l Council on Disabilities) and create an updated version of the policy statements that incorporates more compelling language, some system outcomes or benchmarks, and an over-arching statement that talks in some way about compliance w/ the legislation, ADA and Olmstead.

The state agencies will complete the action steps sections of all existing policy statements, integrating this into any new policy direction lay-out.

DHS staff will cross-walk the new document with the legislation to make sure that all performance expectations of the DSAC process and Implementation Plan are met.

All this material (plus the summary of this and the first meeting) will be shared via email at least one-week before the next meeting - now scheduled for May 20th from 2 to 4 in the afternoon.