Thursday, January 20, 2011

Michigan advocates oppose choice - again!

Michigan advocacy organizations have once again expressed strong opposition to the Choice Resolution adopted by the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards (MACMHB). The Choice Resolution confirms the right of people served by our local community mental health agencies, including people with developmental disabilities, to live  in the least restrictive setting that is appropriate to the needs of the individual and is the individual’s personal choice. It recognizes that there are differences in service preference among consumers and honors choice regardless of the individual’s philosophy of service delivery.

The Michigan Department of Community Health, with the support of state advocacy organizations, has stated its intent to limit and eventually eliminate all specialized services that serve people with disabilities in group settings (day programs, group homes, sheltered workshops, etc.). The Choice Resolution was a response to that threat and received strong support from families and other individuals alarmed by the policy direction of the MDCH. (Now is the time to encourage the new administration in Lansing to take a second look at these policies.)

The Choice Resolution was adopted by the MACMHB Executive Committee in August 2010 and was then voted on by the full membership of the organization during a state conference in October 2010 where it passed unanimously. The most recent letter from the advocacy organizations has been discussed by the MACMHB steering committee and will be responded to. The MACMHB continues to stand behind the Choice Resolution.

Until I can get this posted on line, here is the body of the advocates' letter,
dated December 15, 2010, to Mary Anderson, President of the MACMHB.:

It is extremely disappointing to see the board Association adopt the position they did on the CHOICE (sic). What has been endorsed, implies poor stewardship of public monies and ignores best practices, evidence and years of progress in Michigan and even throughout the county (sic).

Your position attempts to modify "least restrictive environment" and skips altogether "most integrated setting" both of which are statutory requirements of the public mental health system. You're (sic) association maintains that any person, or in this case, any person's parent can choose whatever they want for their adult son or daughter. That could include another Mount Pleasant Center.

What is best for the person; what will accomplish legitimate public mental health ends; what is most effective; what is most fiscally sound; what follows the letter and intent of the law; none of these matter, and evidently neither does the research and data which indicate the superiority of small residential settings when it comes to choice.

It has become even more apparent that MACMHB, as a trade organization for providers, is willing to have a small, albeit loud, fringe group dictate their policy and the values of the organization; It is also apparent that your Association does not value the position of this state's leading advocacy organizations working on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities.

Without common values or principals, we obviously need to alter our common advocacy and support. Our past history of supporting the CMHSP and current PIHP system will need to be re-evaluated. If we do not share a vision nor seek the same outcomes, our paths must diverge. Sadly, we see no other way.

The letter is signed by Dohn Hoyle from the ARC Michigan, Glen Ashley from UCP Michigan, Norm DeLisle from MDRC, and Elmer Cerano from MPAS.

I look forward to more discussions on small, albeit loud, fringe groups dictating policy and values of their organizations to people with disabilities and their families.

1 comment:

Dadvocate said...

I just came across your blog. It is a terrific source. Although I applauded from afar efforts in MI to close large State Operated Institutions, I had no idea about the extreme and limiting policies being implemented in the State re living arrangements and guardianship issues (one of the anti guardian folks compared guardians to slave owners). It seems to me that a good number of advocates are pressing radical policy perscriptions in MI that will only serve to harm the most severely affected in the developmentally delayed population. I don't know if it's due to some radical ideolgical bent or bias against non urban or suburban solutions but a good number of these folks seem a bit unhinged from reality. The historically relatively easy to integrate Down Syndrome and MR populations are shrinking compared to the rise in autism, which often requires much higher staffing ratios and intense behavioral supports. It seems like these "advocates" are throwing a lot of vulnerable people to the wolves with their agenda of benign neglect.