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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.

What’s Next?

The Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities is collaborating with the Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice at Utah State University, and the Utah Developmental Disability Council, to provide a comprehensive leadership development program that is culturally and linguistically competent for Latino families and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities starting in February 2024.

2022 Graduate Reflections

2022 Partners Graduates were asked “Why was participating in Idaho Partners in Policymaking important to you, and what did you learn?” Some of the responses are below.

James Peterson, Advocate, Moscow, ID
James Peterson, Advocate – Moscow, Idaho

“It was important to me because it made me into a leader and I got to meet new people and become new friends. I learned about what real leaders are like and how to treat people that have disabilities and respect them not disrespect them.”

James Peterson – 2022 Idaho Partners in Policymaking Graduate

“Partners in Policymaking was a fabulous opportunity to learn in depth about the history of current system struggles of I/DD in Idaho and the nation.  It raised my awareness that my children will become adults who can become happy, fulfilled, productive participants in their community.  Support is imperative, from family and systems.  I met so many courageous parents and self-advocates who bravely advocate and educate every person they encounter.  The biggest take away for me was learning to share our family story and encourage supported decision making for each of my children to have the right to independent self direction.  My work to raise awareness and system change regarding dual members of I/DD and mental illness will likely never end.  A better, more effective system of support is currently available to all impacted by I/DD and mental illness, Idaho can and must do better by this most vulnerable population.”

Tricia Ellinger – 2022 Idaho Partners in Policymaking Graduate
Tricia Ellinger, Parent, Emmett, Idaho
Will Wallace, Advocate, Boise, Idaho

“Participating in partners was important for me to be able to learn the history politics affecting people with disabilities.

What I learned from being involved in partners was the ability to be a stronger self advocate as well as being more confident in using my voice to affect change.”

Will Wallace – 2022 Idaho Partners in Policymaking Graduate

“Participating in Partners in Policymaking was important to me because personally I was struggling. Raising any child can be trying at times, but sometimes raising a child with Developmental Disabilities can be extra difficult, and not necessarily because of the child himself, but because of the lack of support and understanding for your particular child’s needs. Through Partners in Policymaking, I was taught about many different supports available to my child and myself. But more importantly, I was taught that I have an important voice, and I was taught how to use it to not only help my child, but also to help others who have not yet found their own voice. So many people have paved the way for me to find help. Now it’s time for me to start paving myself! “

Reena Lyon – 2022 Idaho Partners in Policymaking Graduate
Reena Lyon, Parent, Idaho Falls, Idaho
Reena Lyon, Parent, Idaho Falls, Idaho

“This work is supported by a grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201 with 100% federal funding award totaling $527,570 (Federal Fiscal Year 2023 Grant No.: 2301IDSCDD-01). Council efforts are those of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of not are endorsed by ACL, HHS, or the U.S. government.”

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