The SDM Pilot Project includes people in their mid-20s to their late 70s with wide-ranging needs and life desires. They have designated their own networks of supporters who help them weigh the pros and cons of life matters – living arrangements, job opportunities, purchases, health matters, vacations, relationships – and make their own decisions.
By creating these decision-making networks, people with disabilities and their supporters are connecting to the greater world of commerce, medicine, education and community. To date, seven pilot participants and their supporters have entered into Representation Agreements, all of which were then stamped and notarized. They are agents of their own change.
Supported decision-making is a promising alternative to guardianship. Through SDM, people with disabilities can confer with their network supporters, make decisions and have those decisions respected. SDM maximizes independence and promotes self-advocacy and self-determination for individuals with disabilities.
The Center for Public Representation, a nonprofit law firm focusing on disability rights, and
Nonotuck Resources Associates, an innovative social service provider, are natural partners in this collaborative project. In addition, Human Services Research Institute, a nonprofit research and consulting organization, is conducting an independent evaluation of the pilot to identify challenges and good practices for supported decision-making.