By Beth Swedeen, Executive Director
The old saying is “There is no ‘I’ in team.” That’s especially true when looking at how much BPDD can accomplish and how people with disabilities, their families, and allies benefit when we collaborate. While BPDD is a small agency – only seven permanent staff positions – we have accomplished a great deal of work that is leading to statewide change. Many of these accomplishments are a result of BPDD collaborating with partners like Survival Coalition and Quality Education Coalition. Also, sitting on committees like the IRIS Advisory Board, Children’s Long-Term Care, and Adult Long-Term Care committees has provided us with multiple opportunities to collaborate and make Wisconsin a better place for people with disabilities.
In addition, by working in partnership with the talented and dedicated groups and individuals with whom we contract and partner, we also build relationships and expertise that taps the skills of a wide community of experts. Recently, we’ve partnered with In Control Wisconsin, APSE, Community Care of Central Wisconsin, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, People First Wisconsin, AmeriCorps, Waisman Center, Disability Rights Wisconsin, and the Disability Policy Partnership – just to name a few. Working with these folks has helped BPDD advance our mission in the state.
Some examples of great efforts in the past three months that have emerged from our team efforts include:
- A national response to a query put together with Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Disability Policy Partnership from the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) providing guidance on how community worksites for students with disabilities must follow the same Least Restrictive Environment guidelines as classrooms.
- A series of 2013-2015 budget recommendations to Departments, the Governor, and Legislature from Survival Coalition that allowed us to meet with state agency heads to discuss budget ideas well before their deadline to submit their budgets to the Governor.
- In collaboration with People First Wisconsin, a first-ever Wisconsin Self-Advocate set of 2013-2015 budget recommendations coming straight from the collective input of nearly 300 self-advocates.
- Feature stories and newsletter articles about BPDD’s Let’s Get to Work project and Take Your Legislator to Work Campaign, as well as Employment First, in Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce’s quarterly news magazine and e-newsletters.
- Recommendations from the Disability Policy Partnership to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) on how to strengthen accountability for students with disabilities in its federal No Child Left Beyond waiver request and proposed report card on school progress.
- Input and research-based strategies from the Disability Policy Partnership to strengthen DPI’s Statewide Personnel Development Grant (SPDG).
An added plus is that our office is constantly buzzing with new faces and new ideas. After Oct. 1, come by our new space on the second floor of the Department of Administration building and experience the collaboration in action!