“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More on disability as commodity (commoditization of disabiltiy)

"The $5.7 billion United Nations Development Program, the U.N.’s flagship anti-poverty agency, is
poor at producing lasting results,
sets unrealistic or unfocused priorities and
often seems more interested in getting funding than in setting up programs that make the best sense,
according to an internal assessment that will be discussed at a top-level meeting next month." (emphasis added)

That is the way a Fox News article begins, entitled, "UN anti-poverty agency chases cash rather than results, study finds."  The article is available here.

I feel this is the same rebuke that might be laid at the feet of many school district programs, adult service agencies and university programs.  Particularly in relation to persons with disabilities, the services they receive cause them to become a commodity that is used to pay people's salaries, buy out their time and do a wide variety of other things unrelated the reason for the actual funding.  The article goes on to say that related to the goals for which money were given they have
"limited ability . . . to demonstrate whether its poverty reduction activities have contributed to any significant change in the lives of the people it is trying to help." 
So billions of dollars have been spent, with no accountability, "limited ability" to demonstrate whether the money did anything for those it was intended to assist or whether there was any significan change in people's lives.
I think we do many human services in the same manner.  We assume that the human services paid exhorbitant amounts of money to serve persons with disabilities are in some way making a big difference.  Perhaps they are on some level, but the life they provide is poorly evaluated in comparison to being the type of life the average citizen would desire.  When services are monitored, they are arguably monitored under the wrong type of models, the wrong philosophy.  The result are outcomes that if viewed by the average outsider would be considered undesirable.  The person viewing the services just perhaps shrugs and says, "I guess that is the best we can do."
But I don't believe it is.  Our basic models are wrong which is why those with a community presence aren't being recruited to the degree they might.  Instead, natural resources are shunned in preference of those who are paid.  And those paid services have produced questionable results.
I don't think we need more money in human services (education, adult services, etc.).  I think we need to be wiser about
  • how we spend the money,
  • the goals we develop,
  • the way we see the responsibilities of paid agents versus community members,
  • the way we see ourselves as community members
  • even the basic importance of integration which is comparable to the criticism of creating programs that do not make the best sense.
Change needs to happen, but will not happen till more people are aware of what the system is, how it makes disability a commodity, and finds ways to truly evaluate outcomes that would justify the spending of money on services.


Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about this very thing yesterday. I get paid 29 hours a month to include my adult son, B, in the community. But there are rules - it must be just him and myself and I may not take him somewhere we would have gone anyway, like church. In other words, it may not be a natural support. So, in order to earn the money (which comes in awfully handy) I have to take him away from the rest of the family to do things that we wouldn't necessarily do otherwise - I have to manufacture outings just to get my "time" in. What message is this conveying to my son? What is this teaching my younger children? I've been known to tell my family that B and I can't go on a family outing (to the park, to church, to someone's house for dinner) because we still have hours to get in and, unfortunately, the family outing doesn't count. So instead I take B to the mall where we aimlessly walk around, getting the time in, but with no actual real beneficial community interaction. We're not even allowed to take a friend of his with us. The rules make our community inclusion manufactured and fake. What's so bad about natural supports? Why do we have to tear our adult child with I/DD away from his natural supports and natural community inclusion to receive financial aid in caring for him at home (which is already time consuming in itself)? I wish we were independently wealthy and didn't need the income I receive through his "community inclusion." Then we could just be the normal, healthy, happy family that we were created to be.

Anonymous said...

With most governed monies there is a lack of efficiency and effectiveness, due to, the politics/administration dichotomy. Although government intentions may be noble; the policies made are broken or system corrupt. Unlike the private sector, the public sector has been given the task to do more with less. The question that rose during this process is, “can it be done?” Of course, but it will take more than the regular Joe to create a system that best fits in the support towards education for the disabled. Finding the right administrator to lead this movement will be a quest but recruiting the right specialists to implement the new system will be the challenge. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is looking towards a short-term or ill-planned project, which in effect, affects the progression of a greater outcome. It will bring setbacks due to its thrown together concepts. Most importantly it will leave devastating long-term effects (government will be cleaning up their mess before moving forward, leaving programs and consumers at a standstill). Changing programs for the better takes time and is an incremental process which needs the guidance of those who are experts. Therefore, we need to take out the politics/administration dichotomy and gather the specialized experts. Hopefully then the influence that government has on programs and funding will be utilized to the best ability.

Anonymous said...

I feel that our government has no clue what to do with the money that they give out. They do not know because they do not want to know or even sometimes care. They give out money so they do not have to deal with you and your child. When people say "I guess this is the best we can do" to me usually means that they have not even tried to make a modification that will actually help the children they just want to use the old way.