How can we help Minnesotans living with disabilities lead more independent lives?

The focal point of this project is to give people living with disabilities more service and housing options to live in more independent living settings.  Project staff focus on moving towards a system that is more ‘person centered’ and incorporates ‘person centered planning’ ‘person centered thinking’ in its implementation. In the existing system, professional case managers place people living with disabilities into congregate living settings according to their professional assessment of what is ‘best.’  In grant and planning documents, program staff characterizes the existing system as “worker-oriented and agency-centric”, “rule-drive for the sake of compliance”, and a “medical model in which the county or provider determines the services” that people can access.  


The state’s Olmstead plan includes the following:

This is a Hennepin-University Partnership Project in collaboration with the Metropolitan Design Center and the counties Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, and Dakota. The focus of this project is to RE-IMAGINE alternatives to corporate foster care in the four counties and develop prototypes to then implement. Our role as the evaluator is to provide regular feedback to the main design team in the use of design thinking as the core intervention method of this project.
“Person-centered planning is an organized process of discovery and action meant to improve a person’s quality of life. Person-centered plans must identify what is important to a person (e.g. rituals, routines, relationships, life choices, status and control in areas that are meaningful to the person and lead to satisfaction, opportunity, comfort, and fulfillment) and what is important for the person (e.g. health, safety, compliance with laws and general social norms). What is important for the person must be addressed in the context of his or her life, goals and recovery. This means that people have the right and opportunity to be respected; share ordinary places in their communities; experience valued roles; be free from prejudice and stigmatization; experience social, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being; develop or maintain skills and abilities; be employed and have occupational and financial stability; gain self-acceptance; develop effective coping strategies; develop and maintain relationships; make choices about their daily lives; and achieve their personal goals. It also means that these critical aspects cannot be ignored or put aside in a quest to support health and safety or responsible use of public resources.”

Evaluation Purpose

Future Services Institute delivers ongoing, rapid-cycle learning for the Design Team & Steering Committee who are using a design thinking systems-change intervention to engage with key people at various levels in the metro foster care system to improve housing and services for people living with disabilities. Explicitly, this evaluation sees each Design Team gathering as a ‘probe’ into the existing system and is focused on tracking what consequences each has on outcomes related to systems change and improvements for people living with disabilities.