History of Self-Direction in Maryland

The Self-Directed Services (SDS) program was initiated in 2005 by individuals and families who were deeply dissatisfied with the traditional programming Maryland’s Developmental Disabilities Administration offered to people with significant cognitive or physical challenges.  Pioneering self-advocates and their families believed they could create high quality programming in their own homes and communities using the same money—or less—than DDA was giving to providers. They had two compelling arguments—cost effectiveness and human rights.

At its core, SDS is based upon the individual’s right to self-determination. No matter how severe the disability, virtually all individuals have ways of communicating their needs and desires. Some communicate in traditional ways as independent self-advocates, while many others require the assistance of people who know them well to articulate their needs and preferences. When family and friends offer such support, it is described as facilitated self-advocacy. Historically, family members have often initiated their participant’s transition to SDS, and they are usually deeply involved in SDS plan development and implementation. Without the support of committed family members it would be difficult or impossible for most individuals to access SDS.

Originally named “New Directions,” SDS frees participants from institutionalized programming and allows them to create and realize their own individualized Person-Centered Plans (PCP). SDS is based upon the common-sense principles of keeping funding as close as possible to the intended target and keeping administrative costs to a minimum.  At the core of SDS is the belief that self-advocates and the families who love them —not bureaucrats and consultants—know best. New Directions originally existed as a unique and separate Waiver, but in 2014 DDA exercised its option under the CMS HCBS Final Rule  to combine  Self-Directed Services with the services offered by traditional providers into a single Waiver. The resulting Waiver, which combines two very different service models under the same set of regulations, is now known as the Community Pathways Waiver.

History & Accomplishments of SDAN:

  • Formed in August 2016 in response to Amendment 2 proposals; monthly/bi-monthly meetings since October 2016
  • Developed State-wide outreach through social media, community and public events
  • Developed an online presence in all areas of social media and website
  • Communicated with legislators at the local, state, and Federal level representing the needs of individuals who self-direct their services and regarding concerns re DDA changes
  • Held fundraiser event (Hear Our Voice t-shirts) to help spread our message
  • Participated in all DDA listening sessions, helping with transportation for participants for their voices to be heard
  • Organized a petition with over 600 signatures to stop Amendment 2; Ultimately Amendment 2 was abandoned by DDA
  • Participated in Work Groups that gave extensive input to DDA on Amendment 2
  • Testified at DDA Budget Hearings in Annapolis, March 2017
  • Established as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) in August 2017
  • Ongoing, face-to-face quarterly meetings with DDA administrators
  • Reviewed, researched, and made formal comments on Waiver Proposal, resulting in changes to waiver
  • Testified at DDA Budget Hearings in Annapolis, February/March 2018
  • Advocated for multiple FMS providers to maintain participant choice in options
  • Met with Governor’s Staff in September 2018 to education on the importance of self-direction
  • Working with Secretary of Maryland Department of Disabilities, Carol Beatty, to promote and support self-direction in Maryland
  • Membership on the Transformation Committee
  • Membership on Employment First Leadership Team
  • Quarterly and working meetings with DDA
  • Meeting with DD Coalition members

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