Many of us are looking forward to the implementation of Self-Directed Services (SDS) in 2007 or 8 or 11 or so. Of course, all of us looking forward to that roll-out are assuming that when SDS rolls out, it will include self-direction as one element of the program. Just to honor the name and all. Here are three questions:
1. Will the roles of Service Brokers and Regional Center Staff be clear and separate? Service Coordinators (SCs) have for a long time expressed strong preferences towards what services and agencies clients receive support from. This makes a Service Coordinator a valuable resource to clients who are uninformed, indecisive or dependent. For self-directed services to live up to its name, an almost complete divorce from the service coordination function would have been optimal. In the case, it is at least necessary to redefine the role of the SC in a way that will not occur naturally, to make room for the new autonomy given to the client and to allow the service broker to be valuable. I would recommend a prohibition on SCs discussing matters appropriate to the role of the Service Broker.
2. Will the oversight of the SDS program support or inhibit the control of the consumer? Assuming that there will be accountability in this system (a boy can dream) it will be important what measures are tracked. Such indicators as level of integration, generic social network, and level of employment are great social goals but can't be assumed. Some people with disabilities prefer the company of other people who identify the same way. Some people find paid work less rewarding than volunteer work. Granted, SDS is an integration program in self-determination drag, but some accountability for the misnomer should require that clients be allowed to choose their own objectives and that no-one be incented to deflect or undermine those choices.
3. Will this system manage risk better in SDS than it does in the Regional Center system? Autonomy means nothing without the availability to take risk, and no plan is person-centered without an understanding of what chances may be taken and which won't be. Under the current system the assumption is that risk is good unless something goes wrong and then it was bad. Will the SDS include a new view that lets the individuals served choose which chances to take, and enjoy the results. Those of us who are eager to help people through SDS program plans will depend on the idea that if our jobs are done well and the client experiences an adverse result from an informed choice, that we won't be buried with the emperor.
I'm pessimistic that I know how these questions will be answered. Doesn't hurt to ask 'em, though.