When we talk about person-centered services, and most of us speak about such services reverently, we assume that the most efficient and most morally appropriate support for people with disabilities would form from the will of the end user, be shaped by those closest to the end user and that each degree of separation from the end user would decrease influence significantly. I don't challenge that assumption which I find works both philosophically and mathematically.
I have written before here how frustrating it can be the degree to which advice, technical assistance, rule-making and program formation follow a feudal system in which the principality of DDS is invoked by the baronies of the regional centers to direct the viscounts and baronets of the various vendored agencies. This is the least efficient, most morally suspicious method of standardizing services, particularly when the message seems to be "Here is how to provide person-centered services."
A feudal system requires the consent of the governed as much as a Democracy does. It bears mentioning that one reason the community-based system revolves around such centralized control has been that the vendors are so cagey, political and reluctant to insist that knowledge flow both ways or even offer some when asked. Clients and their families could provide more guidance too, probably.
And yet, in the current funding environment, I find it noteworthy that in our collective panic, the trend seems to be toward a more feudal system, particularly where information sharing is concerned. The ELARC board retreat, rather than a conversation, was allocated nearly entirely to congratulating the regional center (something it deserves- in many ways ELARC has been a model of administrative competence) and the promotion of some person-centered tools they developed. The participants, vendors, clients and family members were asked their input only in the final 15 minutes and in response to the question "What can we do to promote use of these instruments."
So let it be said here that the purpose of this meeting was to promote person-centered process offers only irony and evidence that many who promote individualized support don't understand what they say they are promoting.
If current events require a new level of partnership and a higher degree of efficiency, there will be much more time spent in which vendors, families and clients instruct regional centers. It takes effort to make a smart system and it takes thought. The distributed wisdom of community-based system ought to be our best instrument for making opportunity ought of current challenges. To that end, the certainty of regional center personnel and the recalcitrance of direct care users and providers are the most obvious obstacles.
Sidenote: I don't suspect that regional center personnel or vendors are intentionally complicit in the centralized course of decision-making in this system. I just think that findings have followed the funding for so long that long-time participants in the system, a group in which I'll soon have to admit membership, don't even realize how arrogantly or submissively they are behaving.