The Administration for Community Living (ACL) awarded a cooperative agreement to the University of Massachusetts Boston to implement a national Alternatives to Guardianship Youth Resource Center. The Alternatives to Guardianship (AtG) is a new initiative focused on diverting high school students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) away from guardianship to supported decision making (SDM), which allows individuals with disabilities to make decisions for themselves and choose the level of support they need from people and organizations they trust.
Julie Hocker, Commissioner for the Administration on Disabilities, says autonomous decision making is a top priority for ACL for good reason, “When we have the supports and skills we need to make decisions for ourselves, we become more independent and can navigate adulthood, set and achieve goals, and truly enjoy the benefits and freedoms of community living.”
This cooperative agreement awards an anticipated $1,499,998 during a five-year project period, from September 1, 2020, through August 31, 2025, under funding from Projects of National Significance. The Institute of Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston and its partners will work to establish the Center for Youth Voice, Youth Choice on Alternatives to Guardianship (CYVYC) to increase the use of guardianship alternatives by youth with ID/DD by conducting research, creating a sustainable model for capacity building and resource dissemination, and forming a replicable Youth Ambassadors Program (YAS) that trains youth with ID/DD in leadership development and mentoring skills. YAS participants will serve as mentors to other youth with ID/DD and their parents or guardians and is a key component of the resource center.
Commissioner Hocker explains the significance of creating such programming for youth with ID/DD, “It is important that we continue to strengthen the supports that enable youth to successfully transition from post-secondary education. As part of that transition, we must enable youth to develop the tools, skills, and supports they need to make decisions that reflect their goals for adulthood.”
CYVYC partners include legal advocacy organizations, The Center for Public Representation, Georgia Advocacy Office, and consultants from the Harvard Law School Project, national self-advocacy organization Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, and systems change experts Human Services Research Institute, as well as other subject matter experts including educators, parents, and advocates.
This initiative is funded under Projects of National Significance, which focuses on the most pressing issues affecting people with developmental disabilities and their families. Through these projects, ACL supports the development of national and state policy and awards grants and contracts that enhance the independence, productivity, inclusion, and integration of people with developmental disabilities.
For more information contact Rebecca Ellison at Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org.