Certificate in Disability Policy and Services: Start Here, Go Anywhere

Publication date: 
August 16, 2018

"If you can, you should consider completing the certificate!" says Haley Hajjali (pictured), who is working on her graduate degree in nursing at the University of Minnesota. "The people you meet, the things you learn, and the new experiences you have will help round you out, no matter what profession or path you go down." Hajjali is speaking about the Certificate in Disability Policy and Services, which is designed to allow graduate students, as well as community professionals, to study policies and services that affect the lives of children, youth, and adults with disabilities. The 12-credit interdisciplinary program is a collaboration between ICI and the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development in the University's College of Education and Human Development. The program examines the spectrum of education, employment, community living, and health policies impacting individuals with disabilities and their families, and surveys the public and private networks of disability services. While the program addresses the needs of people with all types of disabilities, it emphasizes intellectual and related developmental disabilities across the lifespan. The program addresses topics in the field of developmental disabilities, including:

  • Past and present inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities.

  • Significant legislation and laws impacting services and supports.

  • Exploration of school, residential, employment, and community programs.

  • Perspectives and roles of professional disciplines in providing services and collaboration.

  • Current trends and issues in policies and service provision. 

"Working at a group home, I knew I loved working with the disability community, but I wanted to work with the community in a new setting and gain new experience," says Hajjali. "Additionally, the disability community is a group of wonderful, understanding and compassionate people. Although there are many self-advocates out there who are making an impact on policy and improving life for individuals with disabilities, the community needs help and support to make sure that we keep progressing. The program focuses on individuals with disabilities, but the policies that affect them affect a lot of other people too, such as people using Medicaid/Medicare and the aging population. The information you learn will be applicable and helpful in many fields." Program coordinator Beth Fondell agrees, pointing to one of the Certificate's career benefits. "Past participants have told us that the Certificate was the deciding factor in securing their desired positions." 

Applications are accepted year-round. For further information, contact Fondell at fond0030@umn.edu.