A Summary of Activities & Discussion from the April 2022 Meeting of the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council
The Arc of Snohomish County staff member, Leigh Spruce, currently serves on the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC), a position she was appointed to by Governor Jay Inslee in 2021.
DDC carries out the critical role in our state of planning, implementing and monitoring the State Plan to improve supports and services for people with developmental disabilities and their families.
The Council is comprised of a body of 27 Governor-appointed members, which include individuals with developmental disabilities, parents and family members of people with developmental disabilities, and representatives from various state agencies and other community partners. Members serve three-year terms.
The mission of DDC is to advocate, promote and implement policies and practices to create pathways to meaningful, integrated and productive lives for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) over the life course. (Click here to learn more about DDC work and Council activities.) The Council meets on a quarterly basis.
Below is a report from Leigh Spruce on the discussion and activities that occurred at the DDC 2nd Quarter meeting on April 14th and April 15th, 2022.
Thursday, April 14, we spent time discussing public policy and what that means. There was a survey distributed in 2020. The focus was to determine what was most important to people when accessing various services within the community. Most people and agencies said that getting clear and accessible information was needed, as well as the need to make improvements to services as they are needed. There are those who still do not have access because a lack of internet access was a barrier.
There was also a need to have information presented in various languages so that more people can look at information on services provided. Identifying direct translation in another language versus interpreting what information means can get confusing in any language for those who are applying for services. Translating alone into another language can create confusion and mistakes.
One goal of the DDC is to make improvements to the various committees and agencies for disabilities to provide the right supports needed. We also heard about what public policy is in relation to the purpose of DDC.
Adrienne Stuart [DDC Public Policy Director] gave a summary on which Bills that pertained to the I/DD community passed through the Legislature this past session. She talked about the North Star project which prioritized important needs, such as housing options, no need for IQ scores to receive services, elimination of the sub-minimum wage, better pay for care providers, as well as elimination of restraints and isolation of I/DD students in schools.
Ginger Kwan, who is the Executive Director of Open Doors for Multicultural Families, spoke about people in multi-cultural communities coming together to help provide needed services for their communities as well. “Ginger’s Kitchen” helps to provide needed employment as well as bringing people of multi-cultural backgrounds together for inclusion. This concept is known as “thrive through inclusion” to create pathways to services by building relationships and implementing changes in legislation. This service was discovered by Jeremy Norden-Paul [former DDC executive director] and is mainly located in King County.
We then broke into various groups and had a working lunch to discuss what criteria we wanted in a new Executive Director [for DDC]. There have been a number of applicants, and they have narrowed down some of the people applying for the position. They will be narrowing down candidates who most qualify. We are meeting in July for final interviews and selection.
Currently the State Plan is on hold until the new Executive Director is hired. Ed Holen [DDC Staff] is also providing support to the committees to help with the hiring process. Currently the State budget plan has spent about 75% of the budget on various activities such as grants for Advocacy groups such as S.A.I.L., local leadership groups, as well as other various advocacy groups and their activities. They also want to allocate money for some types of “innovative projects” that might be planned for. This budget needs to be spent by October 2023.
Finally, we heard from Moses Perez [Advocacy & Civic Engagement Program Manager at Open Doors for Multicultural Families] who talked about community engagement. He talked about the need to be able to provide services for those who are not English proficient. We need to be more inclusive. There needs to be information and individuals who can help families navigate systems to where everyone understands. It is not good enough to provide direct word-to-word translations.
DDC will hold their next quarterly meeting in July 2022. For more information, visit ddc.wa.gov/.
Leigh Spruce is a Self-Advocacy Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. In this role she supports engagement activities and leadership and advocacy training for adults with disabilities in Snohomish County and across the Puget Sound region. She serves on numerous community boards and committees and is an engaged activist for disability rights. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.