Feds Announce Grant to Establish First-Ever National Resource Center for Self-Advocacy
Thursday September 22, 2016
At M&L Special Needs Planning, we fully recognized the essential role that advocacy/self advocacy can play in ensuring our family members with disabilities receive the services and supports needed to live quality lives. As parents and family members of individuals with disabilities, we often play the role of advocate ourselves, tirelessly fighting for services, care, benefits and lending our voice to fight for the common good.
Although every individual with disabilities needs an advocate, the best thing we – as parents and members of the special needs community – can do is to pass on our advocacy skills and techniques. It is essential that we teach those in the special needs community to self-advocate. Self-advocacy skills lead to empowerment; by learning how to self-advocate individuals will have the knowledge needed for success and will be able to participate in daily, life-affecting decisions.
Just last week the Administration for Community Living (ACL) made an announcement that can help us to do just that – on Sept 16th the organization announced that it would provide funding to open the first-ever National Resource Center for Self Advocacy, designed to “support opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to strengthen their skills and voice for this important self-advocacy role.”
National Resource Center for Self-Advocacy (NRCSA)
The proposed resource center (established with 2 million in federal funding) will operate over the next five years under the leadership of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE). In turn, SABE will work in partnership and collaboration with other organizations that are committed to self-advocacy, as well as “disability related non-profits, universities, state government agencies and others to achieve the grant goals.”
According to the ACL, the NRCSA will work to advance self-advocacy in special needs communities, focusing specifically on the following goals[i]:
- Compile resources, best practices, training curriculum, and success stories for an online clearinghouse accessible to the public;
- Research the history of the self-advocacy and other civil rights movements to understand their evolution, leadership, and best practices to produce a report and webinar on the findings;
- Provide training and technical assistance to new entities in addition to the established more than 1,000 self-advocacy organizations across the nation for advising, building consensus, recruiting youth, supporting grant writing, developing leaders, and more; and
- Establish a fellowship through mini-grants to disability organizations to create disability fellowships that offer leadership development and employment opportunities for fellows.
Other organizations the NRCSA partnership include the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), the Green Mountain Self Advocates (GMSA), the North East Advocates Together (NEAT), Our Communities Standing Strong (OCSS), Pacific Alliance, Project Action!, Southwest Alliance, Southwest Institute for Families and Children (SWI), TASH and the University of Missouri as well as Georgetown University.
It should be noted that as the announcement for the NRCSA was only released on September 15th, the work to create this center has yet to begin. Here at M&L, we will be following the progress of this center, and will post periodic updates. We sincerely hope that it is as beneficial and helpful to self-advocates as it promises to be. Please stay tuned to our weekly blog for more updates in the coming months!
As written in the press release from ACL announcing the grant, “The self-advocacy movement is a human and civil rights movement, stemming from the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, but led by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to ensure they have the same rights, responsibilities, and opportunities as people without disabilities. Starting internationally more than 40 years ago, the movement has empowered individuals to make choices in their lives, provided opportunities to have a voice, and opened pathways for leadership development.”
At M&L we wholeheartedly applaud this sentiment and the efforts put forth to advance self-advocacy and self-advocacy skills. As mentioned above, self-advocacy skills can be incredibly beneficial to individuals with disabilities, as well as their family members and members of their support systems.
If you would like to read the ACL press release in full, please follow this link. For more information on self-advocacy in general, you may wish to check out this blog, published by M&L Special Needs Planning in 2015, or visit SABE’s website.
That’s all for today – see you all next week!
[i] Taken from ACL press release: http://acl.gov/NewsRoom/NewsInfo/2016/2016_09_15.aspx
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