Commissioner’s Corner 03/06/2018

Greetings!  Over the next few months, I will be highlighting some of the exciting transformation efforts underway throughout DBHDD.  We are a department on the move!

The Division of Developmental Disabilities has been at the center of our efforts to transform.  We have multiple service improvements underway.  One element of our system has emerged as an area of great importance: the Planning List for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD).  You may already know that many states have planning lists for people with I/DD.  This is a reflection of growing national prevalence, such that demand exceeds current resource allocations.  In Georgia, our list has existed for many years and holds the names of thousands of individuals.  People have been added to the list whether their need is current or urgent.  As a result, it has been difficult to assess the true need in Georgia.

In 2016, DBHDD began the process of reviewing our approach to the I/DD Planning list.  This effort was guided by several key principles: customer service, accountability, transparency, consistency, and operational efficiency.  We wanted to communicate with families about expectations of placement on the Planning List.  The bottom line is that we want to ensure that the I/DD Planning List is accurate and fair.  Individuals with the greatest level of need must be prioritized, regardless of their location in the state.

We made adjustments to outdated staffing patterns and have adopted new tools and technology.  This technology enables two important advancements: First, it allows more consistent and sophisticated analysis of the changing needs of individuals on the Planning List.  Second, more specific and detailed understanding of individual needs helps us to expand additional resources beyond just our COMP and NOW waivers.

We are working hard to make the most of current service systems.  It is essential to have support available as close as possible to where need exists.  As a result, DBHDD added a Planning List Navigator in each of the six service delivery regions in the state.  These Navigators help to address any questions or concerns regarding the Planning List Process.  The Navigators will also connect individuals and families with community-based resources.  To ensure accountability, we have also adopted new performance measures to assess our progress.  We are confident that these improvements will increase accountability and accessibility, while allowing us to remain flexible in a dynamic healthcare environment.

These changes positioned DBHDD to respond to a request from the General Assembly to submit a five-year plan to reduce Georgia’s I/DD Planning List.  This report is available on our website.  It outlines several strategies for consideration, and also recognizes the financial commitment necessary to make an impact.  We would welcome the opportunity to accelerate our pace, and we believe that our provider network can readily respond.

As we continue to implement important improvements, we are mindful of our responsibility to make positive and meaningful changes for the people we serve.  We believe that with appropriate supports and services for individuals and their families, people can live a healthy, thriving life in the community.

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