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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.


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The Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is part of the Minnesota network of programs funded under P.L. 106-402, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act). The DD Act also funds the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the designated Protection and Advocacy agency for the state, and the Institute on Community Integration, a University Center or Excellence located at the University of Minnesota.

The business of the GCDD is to provide information, education, and training to increase knowledge develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to an increase in the independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) of people with developmental disabilities and their families.



Shamus O'Meara, Chair
Roberta Blomster
Peg Booth
Brian Gustafson
Anne Henry
Kathryn Jacobson
Sherri Larson
Rollie Morud
Nina Mae Moss
Derek Nord
Linda Obright
Jeff Pearson
Dan Reed
Connie Roy
Barbara Schultz
Jeff Skwarek
Virginia Strand
Sarah Thorson
Jim Varpness
Stacey Vogele
Susan Wehrenberg
Jerry Wood


Independence: Personal freedom to make choices and have control over services, supports, and other assistance the individual receives;

Self-determination: Authority to make decisions, control resources and develop personal leadership skills;

Productivity: Meaningful income-producing work or volunteer work that contributes to a household or the community;

Integration and Inclusion: Full participation in the same community activities as people without disabilities.


The Minnesota GCDD received $1,041,526 from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) for FFY 2005. Of that amount, 70% was allocated for grants and contracts to fulfill the goals of the GCDD's Five Year State Plan approved by the federal government.

1. Partners in Policymaking®: The Minnesota GCDD has sponsored Partners in Policymaking courses since May 1, 1987. In FFY 2005, 24 graduated (9 self advocates and 15 family members, including 4 individuals from minority communities). Participants evaluated themselves at the beginning of the program year on the federal outcomes of IPSII and again at graduation. The following IPSII changes were reported: On a 5 point scale, independence increased from 3.6 to 4.3; productivity increased from 3.6 to 4.2; self determination increased from 3.3 to 4.2; and integration and inclusion increased from 3.4 to 3.9. Graduates rated knowledge gained at 4.7, usefulness of the presentations at 4.7, and quality of the training sessions at 4.9.

Minnesota now has more than 650 graduates. A survey of all Partners programs was conducted in 2005. There are now 13,364 graduates in the United States, and more than 1,000 graduates internationally.


“I am so happy to hear what we can accomplish after graduation to help others learn and have great knowledge.”

“I learned more in eight hours than I did in a whole semester university class. The intensive environment and teaching tools are extremely valuable.”

“I enjoyed and appreciated the extra offer of assistance from faculty to help beyond the class.”

“I now have the reassurance that the battles we are fighting we need to continue. We will all be proud to be 'disliked' as we keep plugging away.”

“Very thought provoking and mind expanding.”

“Knowledgeable, fun, informational, inspiring, and motivating.”

Supplier:  Government Training Service

 2. Partners Graduate Workshops: IN FFY 2005, three workshops were held on the topics of networking and media relations, self employment, and a Making Your Case refresher on how to effectively communicate with elected officials. A total of 99 graduates attended and evaluated the workshops as follows: 4.7 for knowledge gained, 4.5 for usefulness, and 4.3 for quality of training on a 5 point scale. 


"The Making Your Case course is very interesting and I am enjoying it thoroughly."

"I just wanted to thank you for the e-learning course that I recently completed. I enjoyed the experience. I will be advising people to take the course and I will keep an eye out on your site as to additional courses that you may be offering."

"This course was excellent, thank you, thank you, thank you so very much for sharing this wonderful information."

Supplier: Government Training Services.

3. Partners Online: The Partners in Policymaking leadership training program is being converted to five online e-learning courses during this current five year planning cycle.

The first online course, Making Your Case, teaches the competencies of communicating effectively with public officials and community organizing. 

The second online course, Partners in Employment, teaches how to find a job of your choice, write a resume, prepare for an interview, and plan a career.

The third online course, Partners in Education, teaches parents of children with developmental disabilities how to maximize the benefits
of special education services and work to achieve inclusion for their children in the regular classroom. 

The fourth online course, Partners in Time, was just released. This course teaches how people with disabilities lived, learned, and worked from ancient times to the present; how history repeats itself; and how past lessons can be applied to create a vision that truly includes all people. The rise of community services, from 1950 to the present, is the focus of this course.

In FFY 2005, a total of 62,374 page visits were made to the online courses, or an average of 5,198 page visits on a monthly basis. The Feedback Form for each course was revised to include IPSII measures; on a 5-point scale, independence was rated 4.1, productivity was rated 4.4; self determination was rated 4.4; integration/inclusion was rated 4.4.

A final course will be developed in FFY 2006 on community living, self determination, and family support.


Making Your Case:

“Congratulations on this very interesting and unique endeavor. This is truly going to be helpful for everyone who wants to be a better advocate” (the Philippines).

“Great advocacy training. I plan to announce to our field managers (Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation) so they can use this training for staff and condition receipt of a certificate on completing the Feedback Form.”

“Very informative, a good review but I also learned a lot. This is very applicable to work and personal life. Thank you for putting words to actions.”

“I love your Partners in Making Your Case web site because it is so uniquely cool!”

Partners in Employment:

“Thank you for the wonderful e-learning course. It is clear, easy to understand, and gave me insight into the process of getting a job or helping a person with a disability get a job.”

“A wonderful online resource. I agree with all the principles” (Provincial Autism Centre, Nova Scotia).

“This covered all aspects of a successful job search. I particularly liked the professional manner in which the course was put together.”

Partners in Education:

“I teach a course on Understanding Special Education and found this to be the most inclusive, user friendly course I've seen.”

I can't believe how I've been so involved with IFSPs and IEPs yet there is so much I didn't know. Thanks for a wonderful opportunity.”

“Excellent! Great crash course for parents to become more confident and effective in advocating for their child.”

Supplier:  ZenMation, Inc.

4. Cultural Outreach: The GCDD funded cultural outreach programs in the African American, Asian, and Hispanic communities in FFY 2005. A total of 28 individuals graduated from training programs in the African American and Hispanic communities. The focus in the Asian community was building partnerships with elders and agencies who work with Hmong families to gain their support for a training program and assistance with recruitment.

In assessing IPSII, the graduates rated themselves on a 5-point scale. For the African American Outreach program, independence increased from 3.3 to 4.4, productivity increased from 2.8 to 4.4, self determination increased from 3.3 to 4.4, and integration/inclusion increased from 3.0 to 4.7. Graduates rated the program as 4.7 for knowledge gained, 4.8 for usefulness, and 4.8 quality of training. 

For the Hispanic Outreach program, independence increased from 3.7 to 4.7, productivity increased from 3.6 to 4.7, self determination increased from 3.6 to 4.5, and integration/inclusion increased form 3.8 to 4.5. Graduates rated the program as 4.7 in knowledge gained, 4.8 for usefulness, and 4.7 for quality of training.


African American Outreach

"I can successfully advocate for my son outside of his school."

“I learned that my child should have been receiving job/life skills training since he was 14..."

“I will make sure my son has employment in the community and go to the legislature, and keep active."

Hispanic Outreach

“Thanks to the program at CLUES, I have been able to advocate for a better education for my daughter.”

“Meeting other parents that have children with developmental disabilities in this program has helped me to have energy to look for resources for my child who has autism.”

“The talk about Social Security helped me to understand the rights of my child.”

Suppliers:  IPSII, Inc. (African American program), WISE (Asian program), and CLUES (Hispanic program).


5. Longitudinal Studies of Partners in Policymaking: Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D. has conducted the external evaluations of the Partners classes since 1988.  During FFY 2005, Dr. Zirpoli surveyed graduates from the previous four classes. Based on averages across the four classes, the results indicated that 91% of the respondents rate their ability to get the services and supports they need as good to excellent; 98% have the advocacy skills necessary to get needed services and supports some or most of the time; and 95% rate their leadership skills as good to excellent. In terms of federal outcomes, 88% have increased independence, 77% have increased productivity, 88% have increased self determination, and 83% have increased integration and inclusion.

Supplier:  Tom Zirpoli, Ph.D.

6. Digital Imaging/Employment:  Since 1988, the GCDD has worked with employers and promoted the direct employment of people with developmental disabilities.  During FFY 2005, a total of 23 presentations about digital imaging and the benefits of hiring people with developmental disabilities to do this type of work were made to 354 people in city and county government, higher education, business, and advocacy groups; and at conferences. Meetings were held with more than 800 people in the banking, architecture, legal, and health care fields; representatives in government records, transition and higher education; and service providers.

Twenty-six individuals with developmental disabilities are doing digital imaging work at the Department of Human Services, Department of Corrections, and a bank. Two news releases were issued and a news story was carried by the Rochester TV station.

Eight workers with developmental disabilities were employed to copy and collate resource materials, and prepare packets for the Partners in Policymaking program. Skills learned help workers move to competitive jobs.


“My hope is that there could be a continuing role for people with disabilities in the area of records management and doing the document imaging work” (Department of Human Services).

“I knew this would be a good match. This has worked out very well for us and we're trying to expand” (Olmsted County Department of Corrections).

Suppliers:  Metro Work Center, Quality Culture Institute, Minnesota Department of Human Services, Omlsted County Department of Corrections, Riverview Community Bank.

7. Self Advocacy: The GCDD funded a statewide effort to strengthen self advocacy and local self advocacy groups. New groups started in Bemidji and Waseca.  Six self advocates presented at a State Self Advocacy Conference, at workshops in Bemidji on leadership qualities and in Fergus Falls on Remembering with Dignity, and at a Day at the Capitol on legislative issues. A total of 193 self advocates attended conferences, 14 self advocates made presentations, and two groups hosted conferences for 76 youth and adults with developmental disabilities.

Self advocates evaluated themselves on IPSII changes — 92% reported increased independence, 89% increased productivity, 93% increased self determination, and 87% increased integration and inclusion.


“I got a lot of great information. I hope to come to more workshops.”

“I learned how to plan your future, live for today.”

“My comment is to be independent and listen to our speakers and help others to be friends.”

“My favorite workshop was Self Advocacy Bingo because of the facts provided and we could win money.”

“The food was fantastic and I liked being served.”

Suppliers:  People First Minnesota (statewide project) and local self advocacy groups: Advocating Change Together, Inc., Arc Southwest People First, Midway Training Services Self Advocacy Group, New Ulm People First, People First Bloomington, People First Central, People First Kandiyohi County, People First McLeod County, People First Sherburne County, STARS (Dakota Communities, Inc.), People First Suburban.

8. Publications: In FFY 2005, the GCDD disseminated 24,719 print publications and there were 119,123 downloads from the GCDD web site. The evaluation scores averaged 9.2 on a 10 point scale and 98% of the respondents indicated the publications were useful.


Publications about person centered/self determination

“The printed materials about life in the community, supports, and consumer control that your council puts out are among the very best [that] anyone anywhere publishes. Congratulations. You win the World Series Dissemination with Style Championship.”

CD-ROM – Parallels in Time

“What a wonderful way to introduce disability to people! I learned so much! Thank you!”

“Very impressed; very informative and concise; easy to use!”

“Excellent resource for professors and trainers.”

“Outstanding! Thank you for the contribution this makes.”

Making Your Case

“Very easy reading and full of needed information; also enjoyed the humor.”

“A terrific primer for beginner advocates!”

It's Never Too Early, It's Never Too Late

“I wish all teachers and parents had a copy.”

“Excellent reference; easy to follow.”

It's My Choice

“Great book! A lot of information you wouldn't think of asking about or looking for.”

“Amazing!  It helped me accomplish a lot for consumers. Thank you.”

Supplier: Advantage Business Center

9. E-Government Services: The GCDD web site is the largest on the state of Minnesota server with a total of 1,169 products/services converted to electronic formats or individual items added during the past year. In FFY 2005, there were 173,835 unique visits to the GCDD web site. Visitors gave the web site a 9.4 rating (scale of 1 to 10; 10 = highest), and found it to be very user friendly, well organized, and one that contains a lot of useful information.


“Your web site is certainly 21st Century!”

“The Council web site is so helpful. I coordinate a Partners program and visit this site often. I have never been disappointed. Thank you for all of this excellent material.”

Supplier:  Master Communications Group   

10. Training Co-sponsorships: The GCDD cosponsored 14 training conferences during FFY 2005; the total number of attendees was 3,056. The overall rating of the conferences was 8.9 (10 point scale) and 99% of the participants rated the conferences as useful/helpful.


“Thank you for teaching us how to speak up on our issues.”

“I now look at my daughter and consumers I work with differently about employment issues, and I have new ideas to help motivate my family and friends.”

“A good opportunity to learn more about life. It was fun, I learned a lot. It was easy to share with people.”

“I really appreciated this conference. It inspired me to start a disability awareness program at my church.”

“It was great to see that inclusion can work.”

“I liked learning about spending and saving money. I'm going to be smarter about spending my money.”

Suppliers: Advocating Change Together, Inc., Arc Central Minnesota, Arc Great Rivers, Arc Headwaters, Arc Midstate, The Arc of Minnesota, Arc Southwest Minnesota, Autism Society of Minnesota, Brain Injury Association of Minnesota, Hammer Residences, Jewish Community Services, MAPSE, MnDACA, 2000 Self Advocacy Committee.

11. Customer Research: 

In FFY 2005, the GCDD, in cooperation with the Department of Human Services, Department of Employment and Economic Development, and Minnesota State Council on Disability conducted a survey of 600 Minnesota businesses. Fifty percent of the businesses surveyed employed people with disabilities and 50% did not.  The purpose of the survey was to identify and measure issues and perceptions that are barriers to the employment of people with disabilities. Significant survey findings included:

  • Businesses who employed people with disabilities rated those employees equal to or higher than employees without disabilities in similar positions on every performance attribute except for work speed.
  • An attitudinal segmentation analysis identified the types of businesses that were more open to hiring people with disabilities.

The results of the survey have been shared at conferences, disseminated, and downloaded from the web site reaching over 1,000 people. Survey results have been incorporated into the Medicaid Infrastructure grant, entitled Pathways to Employment.

Supplier:  MarketResponse International

12. Quality Improvement:

The GCDD has aligned its work to the Baldrige Criteria and Framework since 1997. In FFY 2005, training and coaching sessions on quality principles and process management were held for internal supplier groups in the areas of financial management and technology; and technical assistance was provided on a national customer satisfaction survey. Staff and GCDD members received a total of 97.5 hours of quality training and 323 hours of core learning. A Regional Baldrige Conference, featuring businesses that have received the National Malcolm Baldrige Award for Performance Excellence, was also attended.


“Words cannot express my gratitude (and joy) at seeing the results of your work on consumer satisfaction. You have taken many scattered comments and put them into a comprehensive report that is understandable and, most importantly, useable. Thank you for your outstanding work on this project.

Suppliers:  Minnesota Council for Quality and Quality Culture Institute

13. Technical Assistance: During this year, the GCDD had 4,172 customer contacts about individual problems and 381 contacts about the Partners in Policymaking program.


“Thank you for your kindness and ideas for future projects.”

“Your advice/support is a major 5 star general… positive… powerful daring… fearsome… fearless.”

“Thanks for the thanks… I think the People First part of our work is by far the most enjoyable… and also the part that keeps all of us going… but the direct contact sure helps boost the energy levels.”

“Thank you for being willing to listen, share, and get involved.”

“Thank you for all the support I have received. I could not possibly be Coordinator of Partners in Policymaking if not for you. Any question, large or small, you'll are there… and the materials are excellent.”

14. Presentations: A total of 27 presentations reached 1,310 people.


“Thanks so much for reminding us where we've been and providing some perspective on how we can keep things going forward.”

“Meagan will graduate next year… never having spent a day in a segregated classroom never having been pulled out of class to get special services and always just being one of the Kids. She will be going on to college in 2006 to study Biochemistry. Maybe all this would have happened without Partners in Policymaking but probably not. Thank you and keep up the good work.”

“Partners is the best school for parents and helped my mom become the best mom in the whole world… she listens to me more and helps me be independent and teaches me how to take care of myself… I even have a petition online for accessible bathrooms on airplanes and I will maybe go to Washington to meet important people to tell them why they need to change the law because it is not fair.”

“Thank you for your extraordinary presentation… it was a perfect opening to our day. Thanks for your wonderful work and stand for the people in Minnesota.”

15. Public Policy: We addressed the following public policy issues at the state level during FFY 2005:

Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS) — survey and budget allocation methodology

Parental fees

Day training and habilitation programs

Universal assessment

Focus on Ability curriculum

Family support

Bailitt Study on health care

Modernization of language legislation

Olmstead planning

Personal Care Attendant program and Medicaid fraud

Special education — behavioral interventions and supports, funding, student testing under the No Child Left Behind Act

Help America Vote Act (HAVA) implementation — poll accessibility, voting equipment, and voting process issues

We addressed the following public policy issues at the federal level during FFY 2005:    

IDEA reauthorization

IDEA 2004 implementing regulations

Special education funding

Direct Support Professional Fairness and Security Act

DD Act reauthorization

Family Opportunity Act


Medicaid reform

ADA restoration legislation

Health care proposals and prescription drugs

Medicare Part D

16. Collaboration: During FFY 2005, our collaborative activities with the Minnesota Disability Law Center (P&A Agency) and the Institute on Community Integration (UCE) included:

CDCS budget allocation methodology

Voter equipment standards and accessibility
Publicity regarding a voter hot line

Speakers for cultural outreach programs

Partners in Policymaking, speaker for the state legislative weekend session

Renewal of the Council's Five Year State Plan

Personal Care Attendant program and Medicaid fraud issues

Revised and modified a series of 10 Fact Sheets (special education and transition, student discipline, assistive technology, day care services, and PCA appeals topics) for the Family Support One-Stop Center and posting on the GCDD web site

Information and referral services

Resource materials for the Partners in Policymaking program

Letters of support

Alliance for Full Participation

Promoted self determination
The Minnesota Network (GCDD, MDLC, UCE) also shared resources and web site links with each other, was featured in each of the other's Annual Report, was represented on each of the other's committees, was involved in Olmstead issues and planning, and recognize Luther Granquist for 35 years of service with the Minnesota Disability Law Center.

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©2021 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001MNSCDD-03, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.