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The NPN blog
by Kate Chadwick

We're at the six-week checkpoint on New Year's resolutions, and it pains me to report that I have failed miserably in my own 2014 resolution, which I termed: "Get Your Shit Completely Together In The First Six Weeks of 2014, Katherine." What is it that makes us set often outrageous goals for ourselves - lose a bunch of weight, learn to speak another language, end or begin a long-term relationship or change careers? Then there's the added bonus of beating ourselves up when these goals aren't met. Why do we do it? It's prompted largely by expectations – placed on us by our (evidently heartless) selves, or, more often and more surreptitiously, by others in our lives - anyone from a boss or a spouse or a close friend, or, of course, by the ever-elusive "society." And for those people living with disabilities, expectations from others are a tricky business.

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The National Participant Network (NPN) includes people with disabilities who use participant-directed services** and those who support them and the concepts of participant direction. There are participant-directed programs in all US states, and many programs in other countries. We work towards representation from all areas to achieve our goals.

The NPN assists our members and potential members to incorporate participant direction in the

  • delivery of their services and supports
  • development of programs and systems
  • implementation of programs and systems
  • quality improvement of programs and systems

The NPN

  • strengthens the connections between all involved: participants, administrators, and other stakeholders.
  • showcases the talents of individuals with disabilities who want to contribute to systems change
  • works on research, technical assistance to programs, and education modules for members
  • supports the formation of state-wide participant directed groups, known as State Participant Networks, (SPNS)

The National Participant Network considers itself successful when the voices of individuals with disabilities are heard and action is taken to improve the laws, programs, and systems that support us in our communities. We also consider ourselves successful when someone with a disability accesses our resources and becomes more engaged with their own care.

What We've Accomplished

Our members:

  • Develop participant-designed tools to aid in the growth of participant direction
  • Share innovative approaches and existing tools used within states
  • Provide guidance on innovative purchasing of goods and services
  • Contributed to the Participant-Direction Handbook for states interested in developing a participant-directed option and a tool to assist states in developing a participant guidebook
  • Provide input on national policies and projects, such as the Center for Self-Determination's State Resource Guide on Self-Determination, proposed rules for the Deficit Reduction Act, Principles on Unionization and Participant Direction, and the Companionship Exemption Rule
  • Learning about and collaborate with other state and national networks, such as the developmental disabilities councils and the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities
  • Testify at state and federal hearings pertaining to their personal experiences with participant direction
  • Present at state and national conferences on the benefits of participant direction and on their work to include participants in the design of services
  • Are appointed to Federal Boards and Commissions, such as the Workforce Advisory Board
  • Are equal partners in a research project to identify the long term affects of participant-directed programs
  • Provide feedback to Managed Care Organizations about the challenges and successes of directing their own long term services and supports within a managed care structure
  • Work to improve public transportation services used by elders and those with disabilities

**Participant-directed services are sometimes referred to as consumer-directed or self-directed services.

 
National Participant Network
1251 Sunset Road
Taos, NM 87571
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Email:  NPN Membership Administration
Phone:  575.776.1755