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About us

San Diego State University’s Interwork Institute and Creative Support Alternatives partnered to create and implement the grant project, Take Charge: Leading the Transition to Adulthood, which was designed to build the skills of transitioning youth (ages 18-25) with developmental disabilities to take charge of their exit from K-12 to inclusive adult lives in San Diego and Imperial CountiesAlthough person-centered planning is a strategy that has been used for over 25 years toward this end, it does not always result in individuals making decisions for their futures. The goal of Take Charge was to reintroduce the concept and tools to transitioning youth and their families  – calling it person-driven planning  – as a way to emphasize the role of the individual who is facing a transition from school to adulthood.  Another component of the project was to teach San Diego State University Rehabilitation Counseling (RC) graduate students the strategies so that they could facilitate plans and apply theory to practice by getting a first-hand view of what person-driven planning really means.

The project staff and graduate students facilitated person-driven plans  by  using primarily two strategies, or a combination of the two.  They used PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) or MAP (McGill Action Planning). Both are powerful and effective tools to chart the course for people with disabilities to achieve their dreams.

After a referral was made, by either a family member, teacher, or the individual, the first step was to schedule a pre-meeting with the focus-person, their immediate stakeholders, and the Take Charge staff. The pre-meeting is an important step in the process because it gives everyone a time to get acquainted, ask question, learn about the purpose for the meeting, choose the type of plan to be performed, hear and understand the “ground rules” of the plan, problem-solve any accommodations that need to be made, and to schedule the date and time of the plan. Planning meetings were held at family’s homes, at transition program sites, at Interwork (for a neutral place) – all depending on where the focus individual wanted it. The individual decides who will attend.

At the meeting, the Take Charge staff (typically one facilitator and one recorder) facilitated and drew the person-driven plan, and took responsibility for ensuring that the focus person was engaged and in charge, that the guiding principles were honored, and that an action plan was made for specific tasks to be done. At this point, the stakeholders in the focus-person’s life that want to be involved and want to help the person achieve their dreams commit to assisting the person to make those dreams a reality.

The Take Charge staff believe person-driven or person-centered planning can be instrumental in helping people achieve their dreams. It should be a fun environment where the focus-person feels comfortable to share their dreams with their friends and family. It should empower the focus-person to speak up and advocate for themselves throughout the person-driven planning meeting. It should NOT be a tool or mechanism that is brushed aside due to the time commitments associated. It should NOT be seen as just another meeting where professionals tell a person with a disability what they should or should not do with their future. Typically, a meeting should be held prior to an “official” meeting, i.e., IEP, ITP, IPP, etc. so that the information can be used to drive the plans.

Project staff:

Caren Sax, Principle Investigator

Kristoffel van de Burgt, Project Director

Melissa Hough, Project Coordinator

Aracely Olmeda, Graduate Student

Jonathan Deguzman, Graduate Student

Katrina Larsen, Graduate Student

Tayler Nichols, Graduate Student