Sunday, May 16, 2010

The "Choice Resolution": Policy on DD services and placement options

On Monday evening, May 17th, 2010, the Executive Board of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards (MACMHB) will vote on the "Choice Resolution", a policy statement that is intended to preserve choice for a wide array of programs and placements for all Community Mental Health consumers. A full array of services and placement options is necessary to meet the diverse needs of this population.

The proposed resolution is in response to the stated goal of administrators in the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) to limit and eventually eliminate so-called legacy programs for people with developmental disabilities. Programs targeted include licensed group homes, sheltered workshops, day programs, and other specialized programs that serve people with DD in group settings.

A policy paper called “Vision for All Individuals with Developmental Disabilities”, although it remains in draft form, has been distributed and discussed at meetings between state officials and local CMHs as if it were already or were about to become the official policy of the MDCH. There have never been public hearings on the policy, even though it calls for radical changes in what are considered acceptable practices and options for people with developmental disabilities. The policy paper is based on an ideology and philosophy that is for the most part unsupported by existing law and its adoption would lead to the erosion of rights and choice for people with developmental disabilities.

Most disturbing is a statement from Michael Head, Deputy Director of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Administration for the MDCH, of the Department's willingness to exploit the state's economic crisis to reach its goals: "The opportunity to advance change and delete poor practices and service options is enhanced with the specter of large budget reductions...".

If you support the Choice Resolution (see below), e-mail Georjean Knapp, Executive Board Clerk, at and ask that your message be forwarded to the Executive Board President Mary Anderson (Newaygo County CMH) and other members of the Executive Board.

Also, send copies to two members of the Exec. Board who are supportive of the resolution:
  • Jan M. Plas, Livingston County CMH - and
  • Michael Brashears, Ottawa County CMH -
Jan Plas is part of the affiliation that includes Washtenaw County.

For Wayne County: Cindy Dingel, Chair of the Detroit Wayne County Community Mental Health Board and Veda Sharp, Executive Director of the Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Agency will represent Wayne County at this meeting. Please contact Cindy, , and Veda today, , in support of the “Choice Resolution” .

A list of members of the Executive Committee can be found here . If you see someone on the list who is from your area and you can find their email, send them a message also.

If you want to call, the phone number for the MACMHB (517)374-6848.

Make your message personal (say why you have an interest in the issue) and as brief as possible but be sure that you get your point across.

The Choice Resolution

The Department of Community Health, CMHSPs and PIHPs shall honor consumer choice to the fullest extent possible when providing services and support programs for individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or substance abuse issues. Consumer choices shall include skill-building assistance, rehabilitative and habilitative services, supported and integrated employment services program settings, including day program settings, residential settings, and other work preparatory services provided in the community or by accredited community-based rehabilitation organizations. The department of community Health, CMHSPs and PIHPs shall not arbitrarily eliminate or restrict any choices from the array of services and program settings available to individuals.

The Department of community Health, CMHSPs and PIHPs shall take all necessary steps to ensure that individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or substance abuse issues be placed, in the quickest amount of time possible, in the least restrictive setting that is appropriate to the needs of the individual and is the individual’s choice.

Links to more information on the issue at DD Advocates of Wayne County:

Rita Bird Testimony concerning choice

MDCH Vision statement

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