Frontline Initiative Ethics

Institute on Community Integration Turns Fifteen

The Institute on Community Integration is celebrating its 15th year of working to improve the capacity of communities to support the full inclusion of persons with developmental disabilities. Beginning in 1985 with fewer than 20 staff, the Institute is now home to more than 150 staff and students. In collaboration with a variety of organizations, the Institute seeks to improve the services and supports that enable persons with disabilities to live as valued members of local schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and community organizations.

The Institute, originally known as the Minnesota University Affiliated Program on Developmental Disabilities (MUAP), based its earliest work on the previous research activities of the University’s Center for Residential and Community Services, which focused on collecting and analyzing data on the institutional and community settings. Those efforts quickly expanded to focus on the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families across the life span and in all types of community settings.

Renamed the Institute on Community Integration in 1988, its mission has remained the same while its scope of activities has grown dramatically. Major activities of its projects include the following —

  • Pre-service training for University students and continuing education for professionals aimed at ensuring the availability of quality services for persons with disabilities. Among the training opportunities is the newly approved graduate-level Certificate in Disability Policy and Services, a joint effort of the Institute and the Department of Educational Policy and Administration.
  • Applied research that leads to improved policies and services affecting persons with disabilities across the lifespan. Current projects include: the outcomes for students with disabilities of K-12 educational practices, measures of early child development, strategies for improving the quality and continuity of in-home supports for adults with disabilities, and the health status of older adults with mental retardation.
  • Technical assistance and program evaluation services that enhance the work of agencies and programs providing services to persons with disabilities, including K-12 schools, social service agencies and programs, community organizations, higher education institutes, and a wide range of professions.
  • Publishing activities that share practical, leading-edge information through curricula, resource guides, training manuals, newsletters, research reports, web sites, and multimedia products.

Of special interest to DSPs is the Institute’s Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC). This program is currently developing a national multi-media and Web-based curriculum for DSPs. In addition to developing and reviewing training modules for DSPs, there is also a focus on investigating the relationship between the challenges faced by DSPs and the impact on the individuals that they serve as well as developing best practices based on programs that advance the goals of the NADSP. These are only a sample of the many projects underway at ICI that directly impact the important work of DSPs. 

In reflecting on the past 15 years and where the Institute stands today, Director David R. Johnson observes, “The Institute has held a constant course in its commitment to building the capacity of communities to offer the services and supports that enable persons with developmental disabilities to live full lives as valued members of society. And while there have been, over the past 15 years, significant improvements in community attitudes, professional practices, and legal protections regarding persons with developmental disabilities, we have yet to experience inclusion as the norm rather than the exception, so we still have much work to do.”