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BIF kicked off a new project with The Sherlock Center on Disabilities and five service providing agencies in RI to reimagine the services offered to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the state.

Driven by a deep sense of commitment to better serve individuals with disabilities, they seek to transform the current provider-driven service model into one that puts personal agency and self-determination at its core.

“Our highest hopes are to re-design the system of supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, “said Mary Madden, Conversion Institute Facilitator at the Sherlock Center,” and to impact the quality of their lives in very real terms. The BIF Summit has set the stage for a powerful shared learning experience, moving us out of our silo and into the realm of possibility.”

Speaking to her personal motivation for participating in the work, Maya Colantuono, Technical Assistance Specialist at Sherlock, shared the following: “My 10-year-old gets around in a power wheelchair and uses an app on her iPad to communicate. These differences have not gotten in the way of her having the same childhood experiences as our other children. As she moves toward the adult service system, it is our imperative to ensure that she continues to be a fully engaged and valued member of our community.”

Leaders from participating agencies acknowledge that current service offerings are not sufficiently providing the individuals they serve with the supports needed to have and build a great life. They are committed to a more inclusive and person-centered transformation of the system of services for people with disabilities in RI. As one participant put it during the project kickoff meeting, the shared aim is to “get past our agencies to create more agency” for individuals with disabilities to lead and take charge of their own lives.

Participating agencies are Perspectives Corporation, Whitmarsh, West Bay RI, Looking Upwards, and The Cove Center / The Groden Network. Funds from RI’s Department of Labor and Training are being used to finance the work.