The Partnership—Five Years of Serving Pennsylvanians with Disabilities and Their Families

November 2010

A meeting of Partnership self-advocate trainersEstablished in 2005, The Pennsylvania Training Partnership for People with Disabilities and Families, known as "The Partnership" has provided training and technical assistance, leadership development and mentoring to thousands of Pennsylvanians with disabilities, their families and the professionals who serve them. The Partnership is a true collaboration of five organizations—In addition to the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University the partners include Achieva, Mentors for Self Determination, Self-Advocates United as 1 and Vision for Equality.

Since its inception, The Partnership has evolved into a vital information portal through which self-advocates and families learn to navigate Pennsylvania's Intellectual Disabilities service system, learn about participant-directed service options and abuse awareness, prepare for the Individualized Service Plan (ISP) process and for post-education transition and develop self-advocacy and leadership skills. All material used by The Partnership are developed by people with disabilities and families, working in a select advisory panel with The Partnership's technical writer.

Of The Partnership's key activities—Training, Technical Assistance, Mentoring and Leadership Development—Training served the most Pennsylvanians. During the past five years, The Partnership has conducted trainings for more than 13,000 participants.

People with disabilities, family members or professionals working in the field of intellectual disabilities may request and receive problem-solving services, referred to as "technical assistance," via telephone, email, or video, or a face-to-face meeting can be scheduled. Last year, nearly 600 Pennsylvanians received technical assistance for a total of more than 250 hours dedicated to this activity.

Mentors for Self-Determination is the provider among the partners for "Family Connections," a small, personal meeting where information is shared and questions are asked. This meeting might be an advertised community gathering or a face-to-face meeting with an individual or family.

Finally, Self-Advocates United as 1 offers group activities designed to increase understanding of policy, to prepare for participation on advisory boards or committees and to develop decision-making skills.

The Partnership publishes and distributes vital information through its website and its "Frequently Asked Questions" booklets covering topics such as "How do I Choose a Provider for the Supports I Need?" and "Waivers." In addition, The Partnership is the distributor for a comprehensive manual titled "Understanding the Office of Developmental Programs in Pennsylvania: Mental Retardation and Autism Services."

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Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service