Person Centered Planning (PCP)
by Tricia Luker, Bridges4Kids,
March 16, 2003
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Michigan students won a huge victory when they sued the state to
extend the comment period. Their winning argument was they were
stakeholders in the rules process and deserved reasonable time
to prepare and participate. Their winning slogan was “Nothing
about me without me.” They opened all of our eyes and completely
changed the focus of the rules.
Person centered planning [PCP] embraces the philosophy behind
“Nothing about me without me.” PCP has at its core the duty to
ask the service recipient what he/she wants or needs and then
the obligation to plan and support the recipient’s efforts to
meet that goal. The plan’s success is measured by whether the
person’s expressed wish or choice has been met.
PCP is a relatively new concept in planning how to meet the
needs of people who have disabilities. The common practice had
been to plan around the person, usually focusing on what others
believed or perceived were his/her needs or desires. Tragically,
these planning activities frequently occurred with no direct
participation from the service recipient.
PCP principles can be seen at work in IEP and Transition plans
that are built around a student’s expressed choices or desires.
For example, our daughter, Jessica, said she wanted to take
driver’s education classes. Unfortunately, Jessica’s significant
seizures disorder made driving impossible for her. Jessica did
not give up on her desire to take the class, and we did not give
up on trying to understand her desire and to help her make it
happen. When we acknowledged her desire and investigated her
reasoning, she told us that she wanted to be able to leave
school grounds early like the other kids did and to drive
through McDonalds with them.
Once we understood Jessica’s desire, it was easy for her IEP
Team to draft a goal that “Jessica would be an informed
passenger.” What better way to accomplish that than for her to
take driver-training classes with her peers. While she never got
behind the wheel of the car during the classes, she maximized
her experiences and her relationships with her fellow students.
She also became a well-informed passenger.
PCP as a process can help individuals with disabilities and
their families and service providers achieve the person’s desire
across environments. One form of PCP that is receiving
significant attention is the development of micro enterprises or
small businesses operated by individuals using support from
their family, friends, service providers, community leaders and
others. Jackie Golden, a national expert on micro boards and
micro enterprises and the Executive Direction of Inclusion
Research, Inc. was recently in Michigan. Ms. Golden conducted an
intensive two-day seminar on how to develop micro enterprises
and micro boards. As individuals succeed in operating their own
businesses with support, PCP will have been essential to that
PCP is designed to evaluate program outcomes by looking at the
individual wants and determining whether or not they get it. For
the rest of us, PCP is part of how we plan for ourselves, and
how we evaluate our outcomes. Our family members who have
disabilities deserve no less, nor should we allow others to deny
them their right to reach for their own dreams.