March is Developmental Disabilities Month
by Matt Campbell

The Board is gearing up for March Developmental Disabilities awareness month. We have many events planned to highlight Board services and accomplishments of those we serve. I would encourage anyone to attend a Cougars basketball game between local rivals of St. John's Villa, the Sheriff's Department, Rotary, and the Amish. It is apparent the Cougars play hard and everyone one has fun.

The Board is in the process of quality improvement. I heard a term the other day that I like and think best sums up our quality initiative which is "right sizing". The Board is right sizing job positions and services. It was unfortunate we had to lay off staff due to the loss of a contract. The positives from this situation are now our buildings have more room to provide better services, we no longer have a waiting list for workshop services, and the Board is helping laid off staff by working them as subs and/or providing unemployment services.

I am privileged to be part of a county collaborative project between the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and 18 county boards of developmental Disabilities. Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Director, John Martin, has agreed to pilot a county collaboration project with Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fairfield, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Jefferson, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Monroe, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Tuscarawas, and Washington counties which make up Region #5 and are part of Mid-East Ohio Regional Council (MEORC). Director Martin chose MEORC due to the county boards already sharing services to reduce costs and provide better services and the counties are small, relatively poor, and part of Appalachia.

The county collaborative project is working on making county board services more user friendly. Parents, guardians, and those seeking services should be able to have faster response regarding eligibility. If they are eligible, then it will not matter what county they go to for services. The collaborative project seeks to eliminate long individual service plan meetings that are set up for rule compliance, and receive service that is requested without being put on a waiting list for predetermined Board services. The excitement about this project is we are allowed to recreate the system so families can get the services they need and eliminate duplication of service, many hours of paperwork, and the wasted hours just to meet compliance. The new system will be person centered and focused on what positive outcomes were achieved for the individual with developmental disabilities.

I believe that most people in the developmental disabilities system realize it has become too complicated and time consuming. The reason for the current state of the system was good intentions of protecting health and safety of everyone served so we created laws, rules, assessments, and individual service plans to cover anything that could possibly go wrong in someone’s life. The current system makes it difficult for individuals to enjoy life and have the dignity of risk. Under this new system, individuals with developmental disabilities will still have health and safety needs met and have more options for services.