HARRISBURG, PA — The Department of Human Services (DHS) on Friday highlighted the 2021 Virtual Everyday Lives Conference, which includes as participants direct support professionals, clinical professionals, individuals, and families from across Pennsylvania to engage in presentations focused on empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism to help them achieve an everyday life. Everyday Lives was first established by DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) in 1991 following conversations with people with disabilities, families, service providers, and other advocates to discuss goals and guiding purposes for home and community-based services for people with disabilities.
“This year we mark 30 years since Pennsylvania adopted the Everyday Lives framework and philosophy – a commitment to opportunity and inclusion for Pennsylvanians with disabilities and the foundation of all we continue strive for at DHS and ODP. And this commitment has not waivered during the past year,” said Acting DHS Secretary Meg Snead. “COVID-19 has been incredibly challenging for the disability community given the danger of this pandemic and the disruption of normal life and routine, and it has strained resources for service providers around Pennsylvania who provide critical care and support every day. But as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wolf Administration is committed to ensuring that our systems emerge stronger by providing access to services and supports that help the people we serve live and thrive.”
This year’s conference was modified from its typical in-person format to a month-long virtual event containing one to two days dedicated to each conference topic. Topics included racial equity, local-level collaboration for integrating supports and services in communities across Pennsylvania, technology support and access solutions for individuals with disabilities, and employment for people with disabilities or autism. The conference also emphasized the collaborative effort between DHS’ Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and ODP in addressing individuals with dual diagnoses of co-occurring serious mental illness and intellectual disabilities or autism, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foundation of the Everyday Lives philosophy is summed up in two statements:
- We value what is important to people with disabilities and their families, who are striving for an everyday life. An everyday life is about opportunities, relationships, rights, and responsibilities. It is about being a member of the community, having a valued role, making a contribution to society, and having one’s rights as a citizen fully respected. It is a vision that we should all be working toward together.
- People with disabilities have a right to an everyday life; a life that is no different than that of all other citizens. This continues to be the truest statement on which we can build our work. Everyday Lives will be a guide to ODP as it develops policy and designs programs. Providers of services will use the recommendations of Everyday Lives to support individuals and their families to achieve an everyday life. Everyday Lives will guide everyone toward the possibility of an everyday life.
The conference is organized by ODP as part of its commitment to a future that truly includes individuals with disabilities as fully integrated members of our communities. For more information visit everydaylives.org.
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