Official Government Website

Partners in Policymaking

What Is Idaho Partners in Policymaking?

Idaho Partners in Policymaking is an innovative leadership development program for adults with developmental disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. Partners receive information, training, resources, and skill building so they may have the best possible life experiences for themselves and for their children. Partners in Policymaking was created in 1986 by Colleen Wieck, Executive Director of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. The program was developed specifically to teach people with disabilities and families of young children with disabilities to:

  • Work on long-term change.
  • Become active partners with policymakers who will shape policies that impact people with disabilities and families.
  • Understand possibilities and how to create them.

Current Projects & Activities

The Council has not scheduled the next class of Partners in Policymaking.

Related Five-year Plan Goals & Objectives

Goal 3: Leaders with intellectual/developmental disabilities are engaged with other people with disabilities and families in a statewide coalition that has a strong, collective voice on policy issues and systems change.

Objective 3.1

  • Build the capacity of individuals and parents to advocate, lead, and mentor others by providing leadership development and advocacy training to adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and parents of children with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

Reflections of a 2018 Partners Graduate – Caitlin Heiner

Caitlin Heiner
Caitlin Heiner, Parent – Kimberly, Idaho

What made you decide to apply for Partners?
I’ve had a long-standing interest in politics, and that increased after I had my daughter. I saw a need for more advocacy and change that has to be made when it comes to children and others with disabilities, whether that be politically, medically, or in the community.

What made you keep coming back?
Part of me was a little bit jarred because it started with such a controversial bang from the first speaker. At the same time, I had already learned so much just in the 1st session. Part of me knew that even if every session was just like this, it was a wealth of information. At the same time it was good for me to see the other points of view.

What’s one of the main things that learned through Partners?
I learned about navigating the service system and the DD programs, learned more about being self-sufficient as an adult with a disability, and how to approach legislators, draft bills, and make your voice heard in a larger capacity.

What was your favorite session?
My favorite session was learning about the history of individuals with disabilities and how they were treated in the past. This was something I had explored on my own before, but learned considerably more at Partners. It was shocking to me how this was so recent—that this wasn’t 100 or 200 years ago, but 40 or 50 years ago! We have already made significant strides in how we treat people, but there is so much more to learn and to change. It’s surprising that people who lived through it had no idea what was going on.

What are you going to tell people when you recruit for the 2019/2020 Partners session?
That this is absolutely something everyone should go through if you are a person with a disability or have a person with a disability in your life. It’s a wealth of invaluable information and you will make connections and friendships that will help you along the way. Partners is the fastest and best way to learn just about everything you will need on this journey!

How will you use Partner in the future?
I’m already using it—in IEP’s, to organize a community event, and helping friends navigate the service system. I also plan on using it in future political endeavors in making changes for our community.

Do you think you are a different person because of Partners?
Yes. I feel like it is life changing. I feel more informed, more hopeful, more understanding. I feel I wouldn’t have gotten this information otherwise. I feel hopeful because I met self-advocates and they showed me that they have wonderful lives, that they have successful jobs and close friends and that it is what I want for my daughter.

Final thoughts:  I wish that every single parent and self-advocate could be involved with this program.  There is so much information crammed into every session, but it is a WONDERFUL thing!  We are not handed a guide or a textbook on how to do this, and this program is the closest thing to that. You will absolutely not ever regret doing this; do it for yourself and the people you love!

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