Monday, May 16, 2005

What's Right about Self-Directed Services

OK, so the Self-Directed Services Program (SDS) proposal has flaws and has been managed imperfectly. Here's why I want SDS to pass anyway, and what I plan to do about it.

Self-Directed services differs from the current system in this way: Those who choose SDS sacrifice a (theoretically) flexible budget spent on restricted resources for a restricted budget which can be spent creatively. This produces a number of efficiencies, such as reducing the principle-agent problem which inflates costs, straightening out lines of accountability, and improved opportunity to find and use resources which lead to lasting changes in the ability of the client to participate fully in society.

In this way, SDS can be expected to lower the cost of quality in support for people with developmental disabilities, improve the harmony between what's needed and what provided while institutionalizing the personal sovereignty sought by the Lanterman Act within it.

Here's my thinking about what to do in seeking SDS as a part of a richer system:

First and foremost, the community needs to take the ownership of SDS. The negativity that many of us feel or have felt toward this proposal seem primarily directed at the parts of the proposal that are not organically SDS. Examples include limitations on client choice, on due process, and on oversight. These elements of the proposal don't arise by necessity from SDS and in fact, diminish SDS and place the success of the program unduly at risk.

Under the U.S. and California constitutions, the part of government meant to belong most directly to the people is the legislature. To this point, DDS has been defining what SDS is to the legislature through proposed trailer bill language. That language is close enough to right that the community needn't write much. I plan to direct my attention to communicating the purpose, importance and optimum design of SDS directly to my legislators and Senator Chesbro. I urge my friends in our community to do the same.

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