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Evaluation Reports

Longitudinal Study

November 21, 2000

TO: Members, Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

FROM: Mary Jo Nichols

RE: Partners in Policymaking™ Longitudinal Study

The most recent longitudinal study of Minnesota Partners in Policymaking graduates was completed by Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D. and submitted November 13, 2000. This study was conducted for Year IX through Year XIII, a total of seven classes.

This is the second longitudinal study that has asked specific questions and collected data on our key business results – increased independence, productivity, integration and inclusion (IPII).

We prepared a cover letter to accompany the surveys in an effort to increase the response rate. The cover letter explained the purpose of the longitudinal study, and encouraged Partners graduates to complete and return the surveys. A total of nine address changes or returns with no current address were also recorded.

The overall response rate was 43%; our goal was 40%. No results were reported for Year IX, Class 11 due to insufficient data.

A copy of the complete study is available upon request. Following is a summary of the results:

Results Year/Class
  IX/10 X/12 X/13 XI/14 XII/15 XIII/16
Response rate 46% 48% 43% 67% 38% 54%
Independence 77% 84% 90% 90% 89% 77%
Productivity 77% 75% 70% 55% 67% 85%
Integration 85% 84% 90% 55% 78% 77%
Ability to get appropriate services 77% good/ excellent 92% good/ excellent 100% good/ excellent 90% good/ excellent 100% good/ excellent 92% good/ excellent
Skills helped get appropriate services 77% most/ some of time 100% most/ some of time 100% most/ some of time 85% most/ some of time 89% most/ some of time 100% most/ some of time
Rate current advocacy skills 93% good/ excellent 100% good/ excellent 100% good/ excellent 95% good/ excellent 100% good/ excellent 100% good/ excellent

Partners graduates identify 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. Highlights from these areas are as follows:

  • Housing: Two sons with disabilities have purchased their own home; living in an apartment by myself (two mentions); receiving waiver services (3 mentions); maintaining same level of services through CAC waiver; looking for accessible housing;
  • Education: Better/more appropriate educational services (three mentions); "regular" day care and classroom placement; son in private school with no special education classes and excellent results; considering law school; full inclusion or moving towards greater inclusion in the classroom and after school activities (three mentions); son being included in a regular classroom; inclusion achieved for two sons with autism; better IEP;
  • Employment: Daughter receiving day training and habilitation services (probably faster than without Partners); increased earnings; accepted position with the Department of Health, working with families and children with special health needs; beginning a new job; better wages; have my "dream job;" change in/improved employment situation; jobs beyond sheltered workshops;
  • Family Support: Receiving family support services; increased respite services; serving on a family support committee in Dakota County; Rock County participating in the Family Support Grant program; getting personal care services for daughter;
  • Case Management: Daughter now receiving case management services; more in control of services being received;
  • Technology: Confident asking for assistive technology at IEP meetings;
  • Health Care: More health care services; improved health care services and therapies; better health care;
  • Friendships: Increased networking with other parents with children with disabilities; have made lifelong friendships; best friend is a Partners graduate;

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

  • Assertiveness (13)
  • Communication (7)
  • Effective meeting skills (including parliamentary procedure) (3)
  • Negotiation (2)
  • Community organizing
  • Leadership/legislative (7)
  • Networking (3)
  • Self confidence (2)
  • Perseverance
  • Persistence
  • Listening
  • Interviewing
  • Research.

Other comments included:

  • "I'm beginning a new job and Partners in Policymaking was on my resume."
  • "I became more assertive, confident, and began to believe I am the important part in my child's lie and I can do a good job."
  • "I've learned to be more brave."
  • "Anytime I need information or assistance for a family, I use the contacts I made during Partners."
  • "I am much more knowledgeable and assertive, and have several valuable friendships as a result of Partners".
  • "I am now very assertive. I know how the legislative process works and feel comfortable talking with legislators."
  • "I learned how to be a better advocate for myself."
  • "I'm more independent from my mom. My county commissioner has come to the house for coffee and cookies and learned to let me be an adult, which I really like."
  • "Great, well planned and very organized. Great growing experience. Loved Partners."
  • "A wonderful experience. I would recommend an annual meeting for all graduates to get a legislative update and network."
  • "I am now president of People First in Duluth."


Longitudinal Study

Years IX, X, XI, XII, and XIII

Completed by

Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D.
108 Canon Court
Westminster, Maryland 21157

November 13, 2000

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