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A High Five, a Retraction, a Clarification, an Opinion and a Disclosure | DDadvocates.com

The High Five

This is an update on the issue we raised in our last Newsletter about a Vision Statement concerning programming for the Developmentally Disabled in Michigan. The Vision Statement used as examples of unacceptable facilities:

  • Group homes with more than 3 persons
  • Day programs and workshops.

In response to the Vision Statement, a “Choice Resolution” opposing the Statement’s restrictive language was considered at the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards Executive Meeting held May 18 in Dearborn.

After public testimony and significant discussion between the Executive Committee and Michael Head, (Deputy Director, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Administration, Department of Community Health, the resolution was tabled by the committee. During the discussion, Veda Sharp relayed that her office had received countless calls and mails in opposition to the original language of the Vision Statement.

Later in the meeting, the Director of The Standards Group, which in fact had prepared the Draft Vision Statement, announced that it has committed to remove all of the specific exclusions from its document.

This was done in response to the overwhelming reaction that it received from clients, families and other advocates

The action of the Standard’s Committee to rescind the exclusions in the Draft Vision Document was a direct result of your advocacy efforts combined with those of similar groups in Washtenaw and Ottawa Counties.

Representatives from these groups gave testimony at the beginning of the meeting in favor of the “Choice Resolution”.

Speaking on behalf of DDAdvocates, I related my family’s objection to exclusionary policies based on several experiences our daughter has had navigating the medical, educational and mental health systems.

Jill Barker gave testimony on behalf of her two severely impaired adult sons and other persons from Washtenaw County. In addition, Jill runs the excellent “The DD News Blog.” Please go to her two posts for May 18 for more detailed information related to the development of the Vision Statement. It is good reading. http://theddnewsblog.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html

Tom Bird of Ottawa County and his wife Rita were the first to raise the issues surrounding the Vision Statement; Rita is a member of the Ottawa County CMH Board. Subsequent to the meeting on May 18, she was appointed to the MACMHB Executive Committee, Policy Committee. Congratulations to Rita. Tom and Rita have a daughter receiving day program services in Ottawa County and living in her own home.

The Retraction

Our last newsletter attributed the Vision Statement to the Department of Mental Health. At the MACMHB Meeting Michael Head emphatically stated that the DMH was not responsible for the Vision Statement; in fact, he had not seen it nor to his knowledge had it been reviewed within senior levels of his department nor had it been put out for public comment. We apologize for any misunderstanding created by our statement. We do our best to be accurate and factual and label opinions as such.

The Clarification

Subsequent to the meeting, I learned that the Vision Statement was a work in progress belonging to The Standards Group which according to its web site is funded by the MACMHB through donations from local CMH Boards, and led by representatives from CMH Boards, three senior members from the Michigan Department of Community Health and four consumer/advocates. (Gets pretty confusing figuring who is working for whom)!

For more information on The Standards Group including funding, leadership, scope, and opportunity for participation, go to: http://www.macmhb.org/TSG/TSG%20OVERVIEW%20FINAL%206%2011%2006%20_2_.pdf.

My Opinion

Some of the dialogue at the meeting had to do with the existence of sub-standard programs and services and their potential link to the size of the facility or program. It’s my experience that regardless of size (two persons or sixteen) great programs require

  • Good staff
  • Motivated administration
  • Adequate funding.

It is my opinion that especially under the State’s current fiscal condition we advocates at every level need to be spending our energy aggressively supporting our good staff, administrators and providers (regardless of size) and weeding out any of those that fail or neglect their clients. This will be more quality effective and  cost effective than setting arbitrary limits on size.


For better than 20 years I have been on the board of Community Opportunity Center, a residential provider in Wayne County that provides residential services for 100 clients.  COC supports clients in 23 home and apartment settings including 3 facilities with capacity for 16 persons each. My comments on quality versus size are based on this experience. For more information, visit http://www.cocliving.com/Index.html.

All of our Newletters are now posted to http://ddadvocates.com/ .  We ENCOURAGE your comments and corrections and contra opinions. Our purpose is to create a meeting place, a dialogue and a support forum for finding common ground throughout the DD Community.

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