Facilitators play a critical role within SDMNY’s process and NYS’ SDM statute. Some are students in university-connected and professional programs, like the Silberman School of Social Work and the Graduate School of Education at Hunter College. Some are advocates for the rights of persons with developmental disabilities. Others work for provider agencies or are Self-Direction brokers, or may be retired professionals or even parents of Decision-Makers who have found the process so valuable for their own adult children that they want to make it available to others. The facilitator works with the Decision-maker (DM) for months, assisting them to better understand the actual science behind decision-making and social network theory and generalizing it all to their own lives, and with the DM’s chosen supporters so that they understand the nuances of their role, and gain an appreciation for the DM’s autonomy as a person and a decision-maker about their lives. All Facilitators participate in a required comprehensive training by SDMNY staff and are given a detailed, 110-page Facilitator’s Manual, as well as extensive materials developed by SDMNY for use in the three phases of facilitation. They participate in monthly Community of Practice calls where ideas are exchanged, and best practices, new tools, and other professional development opportunities are presented. Every Facilitator has a Mentor, with whom they check in throughout the facilitation process and with whom they can problem solve if challenges arise.
Mentors are experienced Facilitators who have demonstrated their commitment to SDM and their ability to successfully work with Decision-Makers and their Supporters. They monitor and guide the work of the Facilitators assigned to them, participate in scheduled meetings with their Site Coordinator, and, more infrequently, in conference calls with Mentors from all five SDMNY sites.
To ensure the consistency and quality of SDMNY facilitation, Facilitators and Mentors are required to maintain and share notes on all of their meetings, and these are regularly reviewed by the Site Coordinators. Those notes are also reviewed when an SDMA is submitted for approval by the SDMNY legal team to verify the Decision-Maker’s and Supporters’ actual completion of the SDMNY facilitation process.
Facilitators and Mentors are what make NY’s process unique, progressive, and meaningful, ensuring that the agreements (SDMAs) that are developed represent more than signatures on a piece of paper. The additional signature on a NYS SDMA by the SDMNY Facilitator testifies to an engaged process of empowerment and preparation, ensuring that the DM is better prepared and equipped to express his or her personhood and those associated rights more safely and effectively.