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Article of Interest - Person Centered Planning

Person Centered Planning (PCP)

by Tricia Luker, Bridges4Kids, March 16, 2003

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Last year 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 success.

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.

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