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Evaluation Reports

Longitudinal Study

August 31, 1998

TO: Members, Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

FROM: Mary Jo Nichols

RE: Partners in Policymaking™ Longitudinal Study

Each year, the Council allocates funds to complete the external evaluations for the Partners in policymaking program. These evaluations include longitudinal studies to determine the long term benefits of the program, the extent to which Partners graduates continue to be involved in leadership activities, and how the leadership skills taught during Partners are being used and making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities and families.

The most recent longitudinal study of Minnesota Partners in Policymaking graduates was conducted for Year VII through Year X, a total of seven classes. This study was completed by Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D, in August 1998.

Please let us know if you would like a copy of the complete study. Following is a summary of the resuIts:

Activity Year/Location (if applicable)
Year VII Year VIII Metro Year VIII Moorhead Year IX SW Year IX NW Year X Metro Year X Metro
Ability to get appropriate services
86% good to excellent 100% good to excellent 100% good to excellent 100% good to excellent 100% good to excellent 100% good to excellent 100% good to excellent
Skills related to appropriate services
57% most/ some of the time 100% most/ some of the time 100% most/ some of the time 100% most/ some of the time 100% most/ some of the time 100% most/ some of the time 100% most/ some of the time
Rate current advocacy skills
71% good to excellent 86% good to excellent 100% good to excellent 92% good to excellent 100% good to excellent 100% good to excellent 100% good to excellent

Graduates are asked to note significant life changes in the areas of housing, education, employment, family support, case management, technology, health care, and friendships that they attribute to their Partners experience. Following are highlights from each of these areas:

  • Housing: Housing better; moved to a "new" old home; local social services agency finally secured first waiver services/supported living services in our county; daughter living independently in an apartment;
  • Education: Full inclusion (5 mentions); more inclusive services (2 mentions); more involved in child's IEP meetings and better results (3 mentions); child in school district where family resides, meaningful relationships with people providing services; excellent preschool program; secured safe, appropriate transportation; augmentative communication services; continued own education (6 mentions);
  • Employment: Better jobs for people with disabilities; staff position at rehab facility (previously receiving rehab services); son/daughter got a summer job; started a new business; work f or an advocacy organization;
  • Family Support: Getting services (5 mentions): working as family support advocate due to Partners;
  • Case Management: Improved services or finally receiving services (11 mentions); improved relationship with case manager (2 mentions); parent serving as case manager (2 mentions);
  • Technology: Appropriate technology obtained/purchased (7 mentions); technology assessment done; annual technology evaluations; computer adaptations written for son's school curriculum;
  • Health Care: Obtained insurance through work; increased communications with health plan; better/appropriate services (4 mentions); no denials for prior authorizations or durable medical equipment; on TEFRA (2 mentions); good services with specialist care as needed, Medicare paid for medical equipment; more aware of options; successful with appeals (2 mentions);
  • Friendships: Many friends because of school inclusion (3 mentions); found a friend who shares a common interest; many new friendships (6 mentions); more peer friendships.

Partners graduates identified the skills that they learned during the program and still use today, an indicator of the long-term value of the program:

  • Networking
  • Assertiveness
  • Professional accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Researching (issues and resources)
  • Letter writing
  • Negotiation
  • Public speaking
  • Communicating with policymakers/elected officials
  • Persuasion, persistence, perseverance
  • Self confidence
  • Mentoring
  • Community organizing

Other comments included:

  • "Excellent training program... wouldn't be where I am today without Partners in Policymaking."
  • Speakers who come really need to "know their 'stuff' because we learn from them."
  • "Partners is the best, I went more training."
  • Would like workshops on a regular basis; would love refresher courses.
  • A wonderful and beneficial program; a life changing experience.
  • "This was the best training program I've been involved with in 19 years of formal education and ongoing professional training"
  • "Partners is the best thing that happened to me... I have new insight... have learned to respect each person with or without a disability for who they are not just what they can do. I feel empowered and I feel in control. My life has taken (on) new meaning."
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