Connections - 02.28.24

Grant Work: Creating a Community Life Engagement Toolkit

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Over the past few years, ANCOR has had the opportunity to work with the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. As part of this project, ANCOR brought the provider perspective to the development of their Community Life Engagement (CLE) Toolkit.

What is CLE and why a toolkit, you ask?

Community Life Engagement is the process by which people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) access and participate in their local communities outside of employment opportunities. In other words, CLE represents all those activities that add up to having a “meaningful day” and may include volunteer work; postsecondary, adult, or education opportunities; accessing community locations like the library, gym, or faith-based activities; participation in retirement and senior activities; and more. Basically, it’s anything people with and without disabilities do to live a life they want to live!

The toolkit was developed to help providers offer high-quality supports for CLE. It provides guideposts for success, a self-assessment tool for organizations, and real-world examples of how to make CLE happen! The guideposts are a good place to start—they represent the essential elements of high-quality CLE and establish a set of quality indicators as states and providers focus their efforts on Community Life Engagement. The guideposts include:

  1. Individualizing supports for each person.
  2. Promoting community membership and contribution
  3. Using human and social capital to decrease dependence on paid supports.
  4. Ensuring that supports are outcome-oriented and regularly monitored.

In addition to these guideposts, the toolkit offers assessment tools for states and providers. The Provider Self-Assessment Tool is intended to help an organization assess the current strengths of its CLE services/supports and to identify areas for improvement. As part of ANCOR’s engagement in this project, we helped to recruit providers willing to participate in testing the self-assessment tool, which helped to ensure the fidelity of the tool.

Now that the tools are tested and proven to be sound and the guideposts are available to all, there is work to be done to disseminate these materials and support providers with their implementation. To this end, ANCOR is partnering with the University System of New Hampshire (UNH), which houses the state’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), to put Community Life Engagement into action!

This new, three-year project will create a community of practice for provider representatives to implement the materials developed under the ICI project (the Toolkit and Guideposts). It will also feature a Lunch and Learn webinar series, a newsletter, and other useful resources. Representatives from UNH will be at the upcoming ANCOR Connect ’24 in Santa Fe and will be recruiting participants for the Community of Practice.

Keep your eyes open for their table and for more information on how you can get involved!

Donna Martin is the Vice President of State Partnerships & Innovation at ANCOR.