Each year UCP includes case studies in The Case for Inclusion to highlight policy or practice trends that are impacting Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
This year’s report highlights three case studies:
- How to Get Results with the Case for Inclusion
- A Resource for the Media: This case study features an in-depth look of the work being done in Washington, D.C. in a four-part series produced by WAMU 88.5.
- The Near National Adoption of the National Core Indicators
How to Get Results with the Case for Inclusion Report
Advocates and families have tremendous power to be a force for good in their state or to resist a rolling back of progress that has been achieved. Here are three ways to use this report in your advocacy work in your state:
- Waiting List(s) – While so much progress has been made to better serve individuals in the community, for 208,000 individuals nationally, residential services are still out of reach because of a lack of funding and prioritization at the state level. UCP suggests that:
- First, policymakers pass transparency legislation to ensure an accurate and transparent waiting list is maintained.
- Second, that any remaining Medicaid funds at the end of the fiscal year, or from departmental budget saving initiatives, be directed to fund those highest priority individuals on the waiting list (often adults with aging parent caregivers).
- Third, that annual legislation or budget amendments are considered to further reduce the waiting list.
- Competitive Employment – Living in the community is vital, but work is also key to a full and meaningful life. While 46 states have Employment First policies, nationally there are states falling behind when it comes to the proportion of individuals with ID/DD actually in competitive employment. In fact, there are fewer people in competitive employment than a decade ago: despite 325,000 more people being served by HCBS waivers. While Washington State showcased the initial Employment First policy to get almost all (86%) individuals with ID/DD served working, it also showed that it is not just about a policy change but also a priority. Advocates should push for specific strategies and reporting to actually achieve increased competitive employment. A recent UCP case study highlights such approaches.
- State Institutions – During the Great Recession and after, tight state budgets forced policymakers to take a hard look at closing expensive (and isolating) state institutions. While the economy has improved, Medicaid budgets are still tight. Advocates in the 36 states with at least one state institution should leverage this fiscal environment and continue to push to close these facilities, transition individuals to the community, and to use any savings to reduce their state’s waiting list.
A Resource for the Media
Frequently throughout the year, UCP receives media inquiries about the Case for Inclusion report, its data, and what it means.
Reporters want facts and also context. This report provides both.
Often times, these reporters may call to better understand the ranking or what it means. By the time the interview is done, these reporters have a better sense of what is working and what needs improvement in a state. This perspective often leads to positive stories on what’s working (which helps to protect those gains) and exposes what needs improvement (which focuses policymakers on fixing it).
A great recent example of this comes from Washington, D.C. Martin Austermuhle of WAMU 88.5 FM (Public Radio) produced a four-part radio and video series called “From Institution to Inclusion: For D.C. residents with developmental disabilities, it’s been a decades-long fight to be treated like everyone else.”
The series began highlighting the stark reality of institutionalization and ended with a call to action to focus on competitive employment as the next “inclusion” advancement.
This series shows the power of the Case for Inclusion. With context, facts, and in-depth case studies, the reporter had the information to do his own investigative series to really dig into the reality of services and outcomes– both past and present– in the nation’s capital.
Without the Case for Inclusion, this report could have been a one-and-done story. With the rankings and data, it was a multi-part exposé ending with a forward-looking, positive call to action. As a result, policymakers, members of the public, and advocates have a new resource and greater awareness about the importance of inclusion and how to advance inclusion even more.
Case Success Story – Near National Adoption of the National Core Indicators
Since this report was first introduced in 2006, UCP has made it a priority for states to utilize a significant quality assurance program. The National Core Indicators (NCI) from the Human Services Research Institute has been that gold standard. Appreciating this, the Obama administration has provided even more funding and incentives for states to participate. UCP’s decade-plus focus, combined with these federal incentives, have had a profound impact.
In 2006 just 24 states participated in NCI. Today, 46 states and DC do (all of the states other than Iowa, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, although WV has participated in the past).
Why is this important? While other reports can give broad stats on where people are living, whether they are working and if they receive family support, NCI gives us person-level information on safety, participation in the community, and a detailed life experience. Think of it like the difference between a restaurant license inspection score and Yelp or Google reviews. The former tells one basic information. The latter gives one insight into the actual experience of people dining there.