Community Living
Working to promote the inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities in the communities of their choice. Staff engage in research, training, and technical assistance in broad range of topics which include housing and residential services, direct support workforce development, person-centered planning, self-determination, social inclusion, and employment.

Highlights from the Year

New ICI Center Examines How to Best Measure Home and Community Based Service (HCBS) Outcomes

Photo of self-advocates in ICI offices.

Researchers with the RTC/OM gathered input from disability advocates about the National Quality Forum’s HCBS outcome measurement framework this year, one of the foundational activities for the new center.

Federal and state policymakers increasingly speak of the importance of demonstrating the effectiveness (“outcomes”) of public investments in services for persons with disabilities that are funded through HCBS. No longer satisfied with descriptions of money spent, staffing ratios, and movement of people from institutions to the community, they desire more specific information on how well the system is providing services and supports that enable people with disabilities to experience their desired outcomes. Policymakers and funders want outcome information measured in a consistent and accurate manner nationwide. In response to these needs, this year ICI received a five-year grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to launch ICI’s newest center, the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Home and Community Based Services Outcome Measurement (RRTC/OM) . Directed by Brian Abery and Amy Hewitt , RRTC/OM is a partnership of five organizations: ICI’s Research and Training Center on Community Living, the Research and Training Center on Community Living for People with Psychiatric Disabilities at Temple University, the Research and Training Center on Community Living Policy at the University of California San Francisco, The National Council on Aging, and the Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation at The Ohio State University.

The RRTC/OM is initially looking at the draft framework for HCBS outcome measurement for people with disabilities recently released by the National Quality Forum . It will examine the framework to see whether it captures the perspectives of a wide variety of stakeholders, including people with different types of disabilities who are of different ages and from different cultural groups, as well as their family members, service providers, and policymakers. It will then recommend modifications to ensure the framework reflects what’s truly important to people with disabilities in terms of service outcomes, and engage in five additional studies on various methods of outcome measurement. Ultimately, the work of the RRTC/OM will result in a set of recommended measures and procedures that can be used for collecting data on whether the HCBS-funded programs do what they’re intended to do in supporting desired outcomes for individuals with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities; individuals with traumatic brain injury; and adults with age-related disabilities.

Training by ICI Helps Grow Person-Centered Organizations in Minnesota

Photo of disability advocates listening to researcher standing in front of large mural illustrating disability advocacy.

Over 2,000 Minnesota service providers and others participated in an array of capacity-building opportunities focused on using person-centered values and practices, such as this one offered in 2015/16, through the DHS Systems Change project at ICI.

This year ICI staff provided over 733,000 participant-hours of training in Minnesota on person-centered thinking, planning, and organizations. The majority of the work was done by its Minnesota DHS Systems Change and Capacity Building Through Research, Training, and Technical Assistance Projects . These projects, co-directed by Rachel Freeman and Amy Hewitt , enhance the statewide capacity to support community living for individuals with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities and/or mental illness. Funded by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), this work has as part of its core focus assisting organizations to become person-centered in their supports and services. Toward that end project staff conducted training in person-centered thinking, planning, and organization change for over 2,000 service providers and others throughout Minnesota, including in-depth agency-specific training with seven provider agencies. The training delivered a framework to help agencies discover and support what really matters to people they serve, while ensuring a balance between what people want and what will help them to stay healthy and safe.

In addition, the project launched pilot groups for person-centered organization training focused on Direct Support Professionals (DSPs); that training was designed to support DSPs in becoming more person-centered in their day-to-day practices and supports. Also new this year was the first Minnesota Gathering for Person-Centered Practices, organized by the project staff in collaboration with Minnesota Department of Human Services, Minnesota State-Operated Community Services, and provider agencies Owakihi, Lutheran Social Services, STAR Services, Dependable, and Support Development Associates. The gathering, designed for those who are committed to person-centered values and are eager to learn about and share ideas for real implementation and changed practices, was attended by over 170 participants.

National Residential Information Systems Project (RISP) Marks 30th Year at ICI

RISP project director Sherri Larson analyzed data from all 50 states to provide valuable information for policymakers, advocates, and researchers about the status of and trends in services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

The National Residential Information Systems Project (RISP) is a longitudinal study of trends in publicly-funded residential services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in all 50 states and the U.S. as a whole. Directed by Sherri Larson , RISP—now in its 30th year at ICI—maintains and shares data that is a highly-valued resource for state and federal legislative action, for research, and for policy. It includes analysis of data on setting types, setting sizes, funding authorities, and expenditures for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and is cited by agencies including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, and National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services.

RISP’s annual national and state-by-state surveys of Medicaid-funded residential and in-home supports, long-term care, and related services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities have evolved since the Administration on Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began funding it in 1985. Building on surveys from the 1960s-1980s, this year it continued to evolve, adding increased emphasis on family support data, as well as information about the age of those receiving long-term services and supports. It is the longest-standing continuous data collection and analysis effort at ICI.


2015/16 Direct Support Professional Online Training Using DirectCourse

Map of the U.S. highlighting the states in which a total of 500,000 direct support professionals have used Direct Course to complete a total of 6 million hours of training. States include: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

DirectCourse, operated by ICI's Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC/CL) and by Elsevier, is comprised of four colleges:

  • College of Direct Support, based at the RTC/CL
  • The College of Employment Services, based at the Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • The College of Personal Assistance and Caregiving, based at the Center for Personal Assistance Services, University of California, San Francisco
  • The College of Recovery and Community Inclusion, based at Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities

Hours and Key Topics of Training by Community Living Staff in 2015/16

Donut chart illustrating the breakdown of the total 1.57 million participant hours of in-person training delivered by Community Living staff. Inclusion and engagement: 816,722 hours; person-dentered thinking and practices: 733,959 hours; Wellness: 11,984 hours; Direct course: 10,197 hours; and positive supports: 1,085 hours.

Topics of Research Conducted by Community Living Staff

Graphic illustrating the major research topics in the Community Living program area including: social inclusion, quality of life, service outcomes measurement and improvement, inclusive and competitive employment, direct support workforce development, self-determination, health and wellness, ASD prevalence, family supports and services, and residential and long term services and supports.

complete list of Community Living projects, centers, and lead staff