The Supports Intensity Scale Tells the Story of People with Intellectual Disabilities in Washington: Interview with State Director, Linda Rolfe
Starting June 1, 2007, Washington becomes one of the first U.S. states to use the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) assessment to determine eligibility, assess needs, plan services, and provide funding to its citizens with intellectual disabilities based on a person's specific support needs. This new disability assessment system marks a breakthrough in disability services, which historically relies on measuring deficits to determine service requirements.
While Washington will discuss its move to SIS at a special symposium to be held at the AAIDD annual meeting in Atlanta this May, we caught up with Linda Rolfe, Director of Washington's Division of Developmental Disabilities, in an interview. Rolfe says, "The Supports Intensity Scale is an automated assessment system that reinforces what supports a person with developmental disabilities needs to be competent. This is not only a good way to support the person-centered values of our Division, but such an assessment helps us provide information to our stakeholders, legislature and others regarding the true needs of those we serve."
While Washington State had information and data on each individual, it lacked a cohesive way of telling the story of people with developmental disabilities. Rolfe explains, "An automated system such as the Supports Intensity Scale provides access to the information on each individual and therefore helps tell the story of each individual." The SIS provides professionals in developmental disability with practical information on the type, frequency, and duration of support required for 85 essential life activities plus behavioral and medical conditions. This information is gained through an interview process with the individual and significant others. Supports and services are then planned for the individual.
In preparation for implementing SIS, Washington conducted a pilot study working with families, clients, providers, and state staff to fully understand the assessment process for people with developmental disabilities. "The SIS was the best tool available that provided the required assessment data for measuring the support needs of clients, which is essential in development of our service rate methodologies," says Rolfe.
Representatives from Washington's Division on Developmental Disabilities will be featured in a panel discussion entitled "Implementing Standardized Assessment in Washington State" at the AAIDD annual conference, to be held on May 23, 2007 at the Sheraton hotel in Atlanta. Joining Washington will be the states of Georgia and Louisiana, also early adopters of the Supports Intensity Scale. For details on registration, visit www.aaidd.org. To read the full interview with Linda Rolfe, click here.