The Indiana Commission on Developmental Disabilities hosted its third meeting on September 23, beginning a busy morning with testimony from Dee Quaglio, Chair of the Direct Support Professionals of Indiana (DSPIN).
Ms. Quaglio's remarks built upon the testimony she provided in August, which set forth the need to re-establish educational initiatives for DSPs. Emphasizing the need for a well-trained DSP workforce, Ms. Quaglio reviewed the history of the DSP Initiative, an innovative pilot program designed to advance education and professional development for DSPs. Nine provider agencies and 2,000 individuals participated in the DSP Foundations course, with 25% of those completing it choosing to pursue the Human Services Certificate through Ivy Tech Community College. The pilot program was discontinued in 2010 due to lack of funding.
Ms. Quaglio, herself a graduate of the DSP Initiative, spoke to the positive impact of the program and encouraged lawmakers to investigate opportunities to develop a new educational program for DSPs.
In an effort to increase visibility and voice for DSPs, she also urged the Commission to consider drafting legislation to establish a seat on the Commission for a DSP. With self-advocates, providers and families already represented, DSP presence on the Commission would provide a more rounded view of the system of services and supports. The Committee agreed to look into DSP education options and will continue reviewing this vital issue.
Another critical issue addressed by the Committee throughout the summer has been the efficacy of services and supports for persons with dual diagnoses. Dr. Joan Beasley, Director of the Center for Systemic, Assessment, Respite and Therapeutic (START) Services, offered testimony regarding how the START Program has been used to build existing capacity and allow professionals to develop specialized skills to effectively respond to crisis situations. Overall, Ms. Beasley posited that START has allowed states to reduce hospital admissions and better serve the needs of the dually-diagnosed population.
The Commission's dialogue on this important issue continued with a presentation from Steve Cook and George Harris on AWS' experiences in providing mobile crisis response services in Indiana and Georgia. AWS was one of two Crisis Management vendors engaged by DDRS from 2007 - 2010, when funding was eliminated due to State budget issues. During that tenure, AWS employed a model that used phone support as an initial intervention, in-home support, and when necessary out-of-home placement. In part due to their experience in Indiana, AWS is currently providing mobile crisis response services in Georgia to both individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as to individuals with mental health concerns. Through their work in Georgia, AWS utilizes a similar intervention approach using teams comprised of Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and specially trained Direct Support Professionals.
The Commission will hold its final meeting on October 8, during which it will identify next steps. All INARF members are encouraged to attend or view the meeting via webcast.