Social Innovation – The Dane Difference [PDF]

Reflections on The Innovation Celebration

John O’Brien

Sept. 2015

These are commonplace pictures: people at work, people in a community garden, people making art, people volunteering for something they care about, people at home. The Dane County difference is that collectively citizens of Dane County have much better chances than average Americans with developmental disabilities of being employed, having the choice to live in a home of their own and self-directing the publicly funded assistance they require.

This report describes the advantage that Dane County has achieved and identifies some of the system conditions that generate much better than average life chances for people with developmental disabilities who live there. Because big changes in the structure and financing of Wisconsin’s long-term care provision seem increasingly likely, it is important for Dane County to conserve the capacities to assist people to live good lives that the county has built up over nearly 40 years of investment in social innovation.

Dane County supports 1,424 adults with developmental disabilities,

1,395 (98%) of whom self-direct their supports, many with involvement of legal guardians, assisted by 91 Support Brokers & 6 County Case Managers