Programs – Community Inclusion

Community Inclusion facilitates connections and relationships between children with disabilities and people and organizations in the Dane County community.

In collaboration with families who have children with disabilities and their natural and paid supports, our Inclusion Facilitators work to increase connections to community where they can occur most naturally. This effort may be involve helping to build and support friendships, to decrease dependence on the paid service system, to plan for the future, and/or to create a more welcoming climate for people – especially children – with disabilities. Funding from United Way of Dane County and Dane County Department of Human Services, as well as foundation grants and individual donations, enables us to offer many services in Dane County at no cost, and to support those on waiting lists or, at times, otherwise ineligible for system supports. Below are brief descriptions of the primary activities of Community Inclusion

Friendship Building
Making and keeping friends can often be a struggle for children with disabilities. Progress requires a commitment to the process of friendship building rather than a focus on final goals. Our Inclusion Facilitators work individually with a small number of children at any given time in their schools, homes, scouting groups, faith communities, or wherever children may naturally gather, to help build and strengthen their individual relationships. Assuming some measure of success, the Inclusion Facilitator then fades regular direct involvement in favor of other adults (parents, teachers, etc.) already in the situation, but will continue to be available as needed. Inclusion Facilitators are always available for consultations with parents, school teams, youth pastors, etc. on issues and strategies regarding friendship

Person Centered Planning
Often, planning for the future can be a difficult and – especially for families who have children with disabilities – emotionally daunting prospect. Also, there is often a focus on financial planning without as much attention paid to quality of life issues for the both the short term and long range future. Fortunately, there exist a number of person centered planning tools that address all of these issues. Community Inclusion offers planning using the PATH and Maps processes, as well as the ability to customize a planning tool for those families and individuals for whom an established process may not be the right choice. All are creative and positive ways to look to the future, and focus on the capacity and gifts of the person and his/her supporters. A person centered planning experience is also a great way to invite those around the person to recognize his/her abilities, strengthen their relationship and focus their support. Performed with people from four years old to those in their eighties, a person centered plan is ideal for those looking at any sort of transition and can greatly complement system oriented plans such as the IEP or ISP.

Circles of Support
A Circle of Support is a group of people who meet regularly to help a person with a disability realize a dream or reach a life goal. A Circle often offers invaluable assistance in assisting a person and his/her family in making and following through on choices, and in maneuvering through the human services system. Circles of Support are based on the belief that the community is a place where everyone belongs and are a way to organize the resources of the community to support a person. Often organized by and used in conjunction with person centered planning, Community Inclusion assists families in creating and maintaining a Circle of Support.

For more information about Community Inclusion activities, please contact Heidi Rossiter at 608- 237-7630.