Starting October 1, 2021, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) kicked off its new Five Year Strategic Plan that set the goals which the Council aims to complete between 2022-2026.
The federal government requires all Developmental Disabilities Councils to create new strategic plans every five years. The Five Year Strategic Plan determines how the Council will allocate funding to create systems change for individuals with developmental disabilities and family members through advocacy and capacity building activities.
The plan is the foundation of how the Council does its work across the state. By hearing from individuals with disabilities, family members, caregivers, siblings and the community-at-large, it sets the course of what the Council must work on for the next five years.
All GCDD efforts aim to ensure that people with disabilities are independent and interdependent, have greater economic self-sufficiency, are integrated and included in their respective communities and are self-determined in their lives.
The Council began its work in July 2020 and over subsequent months, engaged over 500 Georgians through a survey, focus groups, interviews and town halls. The entire process was done virtually due to the Covid shutdown of 2020. The team had to use immense creativity to be as inclusive as possible to ensure access to townhalls, focus groups and the survey.
In addition, Dr. Alyssa Miller, Director of Public Policy Research at GCDD, conducted a comprehensive review and analysis of the ecosystem impacting people with developmental/ intellectual disabilities (I/DD). She looked at overall state demographics, state of disability characteristics including residential and non-residential settings, employment poverty, access to service and many other relevant topics.
Through the process, several themes emerged as GCDD spoke with Council members, people with and without disabilities throughout Georgia, and advocates. GCDD was particularly inspired by one of its focus group particpants. This individual implored GCDD to think big and take the lead in creating a Georgia that welcomes and supports all people including those with I/DD.
To do this, GCDD must focus on people with intellectual/developmental disabilities being at the lead of every campaign and initiative. It means understanding and supporting the intersections of an individual’s identity in a way that considers the various ways people describe themselves including a person’s disability, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, etc. For GCDD’s work, it means focusing on collaborative efforts not only with our partners in the “Developmental Disabilities Network,” but also with those individuals and organizations that represent people with physical disabilities, older adults, poor people, people with mental health issues, people who live in rural communities, and others working to create social change resulting in a better Georgia for everyone. Finally, it means supporting coherent public policies through analysis and advocacy that support individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families to become more independent, productive, included and integrated in their communities, and self-determined in their lives.
GCDD believes that this strategic plan for the years spanning 2022-2026 is about creating and supporting the kinds of changes in Georgia that will dramatically improve the lives of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. GCDD will continue to influence the direction of public policy at both state and federal levels, to support capacity building through technical assistance and grants, to bring people together to discuss how to create change, and to promote public awareness of those in need.
New Plan Goals
The goals read as follow:
In partnership with allies, advocates, stakeholders and communities, people who have intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families will have increased access to and benefit from equitable quality supports and services that increase self-determination and meet their needs and preferences.
GCDD will provide more opportunities for the voices of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities to be heard by strengthening capacity among Georgia self-advocacy organizations and initiatives, and by supporting cross-disability coalitions and leadership development programs for and by people with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
Targeted Disparity and Diversity
The Council’s activities and those done in collaboration will be conducted with a focus on equity that increases the access of marginalized communities with particular emphasis on racial and ethnic minorities and those in rural areas.
Each goal has two to four objectives with activities which will inform the work for the next five years. While GCDD has the required Targeted Disparity goal, GCDD is committed to embedding equity into its practices at all levels and not just through the specific targeted disparity. GCDD accomplishes its work through advocacy, public information, grant making and capacity building.
The goals and objectives went out to the public for feedback through surveys and townhalls. Feedback was overall positive and there were no significant changes made to the goals and objectives.
The planning team and Council worked to prioritize and budget the activities, creating an evaluation plan and finalizing outputs, outcomes and performance measures.
Following successful adoption at the July 2021 Council meeting, the plan was approved and in September, the plan was uploaded and officially submitted. New to the process this year is an infographic to show the plan in a visually pleasing and simplified format.