Urgent Issues Action Plan


 

MENTAL RETARDATION/DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

Travis County citizens with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities have life-long conditions that require consistent support by other community members. These citizens are over-represented in Austin and Travis County statistics for living in poverty, unemployment, substandard housing, and decreased quality of life.

The Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Planning Partnership created the attached matrix, which outlines overall strategies for addressing the following issues with the goal of improving the quality of life for persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities:

INCREASE EMPLOYMENT AND VOLUNTEER OPTIONS FOR PERSONS WITH MENTAL RETARDATION/DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

Many people with mental retardation/developmental disabilities want to work and have shown that they are excellent employees. A public awareness campaign targeting potential employers and volunteer agencies could expand knowledge about this potential workforce. Internships (paid and unpaid) are needed to introduce people to the world of work, and expanded volunteer opportunities would assist in the development of work habits. Education is also needed for people with mental retardation and their families about the benefits of work, and the options available to maintain health insurance and other benefits while working.

INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PERSONS WITH MENTAL RETARDATION/DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES TO PARTICIPATE IN INCLUSIVE SOCIAL, RECREATIONAL, AND MEANINGFUL DAY ACTIVITIES WITHIN THEIR COMMUNITIES

Involvement in one's community is important in everyone's life. However, for the person with mental retardation/developmental disabilities, the barriers are numerous. Many community recreational and social events are not accessible for persons with limited mobility. Limited financial resources of the person with MR/DD make many events out of the realm of possibilities. Public transportation is limited and special transit must be scheduled in advance. Access to these events could be greatly enhanced through the donation of sponsorships, tickets, club memberships, and season tickets.

For those people who are unable to work or choose not to work, there are limited opportunities for involvement in day activities or in programs, which are meaningful. Minimal standards and certification processes need to be developed to ensure that these programs in Travis County provide a quality service for persons with MR/DD.

INCREASE RESOURCES AND RESPONSE TIME FOR PERSONS WITH MR/DD WHO ARE IN CRISIS

There are limited resources available for persons with MR/DD and their families who are in crisis. The public safety system and out of home placements are used many times simply because there are no alternatives. It is proposed that this area be studied in depth, with additional data gathered. Access to crisis services could be increased through use of a standardized phone number and triage method. Training in crisis response for persons with MR/DD is needed for organizations and individuals who are involved with this group, for families and other caregivers, and for providers of residential services.

INCREASE SUPPORTS AND RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH MR/DD AND FOR THEIR FAMILIES, ESPECIALLY IN THE AREAS OF RESPITE OPTIONS, AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE CARE, AND SPECIALIZED ASSISTANCE.

Relief from care giving responsibilities is essential for families of both children and adults with MR/DD. The Travis County community has few out-of-home options available for respite. A drop-in respite center is desperately needed to support families in their care giving responsibilities. Also needed is a larger network of trained providers, especially to provide modeling and support in the areas of parent coaching and behavior coaching. Many agencies and organizations include people with MR/DD in their scope of services, and it is challenging to know of all the resources. The publishing of a resource map in the community is needed.

THE MENTAL RETARDATION/DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES PLANNING PROCESS
A Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Needs Assessment is currently being developed and is expected to be completed by June 2001. In order to identify current conditions and needs, the Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Planning Partnership, met to identify and prioritize the urgent mental retardation/developmental disabilities issues.

THE MENTAL RETARDATION/DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES MATRIX
The attached matrix represents the urgent issues, solutions and actions recommended to effectively address the issues related to mental retardation/developmental disabilities. Where possible, human and financial investment opportunities and existing resources have been identified to assist in attaining the desired results. The solutions and actions identified in the matrix are designed to provide a blueprint for mental retardation/developmental disabilities services planning.

The Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Planning Partnership is the contact for this document. The committee may be contacted through Randy Consford, Austin Travis County MHMR, at (512) 445-7775 or e-mail: randy.consford@atcmhmr.com.

2001 Urgent Issues Action Plan Home Page