Community Broker

The blog this week was written by George Martin, President of The Arcadia Institute. March 31st marked the end of the first year that we have been doing community brokering. The year has been a success for us. We have provided support for over 20 individuals. We have developed guidelines for the program and worked out very effective relationships with many different providers.

As we pause and reflect on the past year, the most important question is whether we have truly been acting as a community broker. The term ’broker’ is used in the Medicaid Provider Manual. The responsibilities are defined. The boundaries are laid out. Our work has been consistent with all those requirements. So, we are meeting the formal requirements laid out in the Manual. However, we are trying to go beyond those requirements and engage both the individual and the community in our concept of brokering.

If you look up the definitions of the different kinds of brokers, power broker, real estate broker, financial broker, the common characteristic is that the broker is a go between for at least two entities. The broker’s job is to ensure that each party’s needs and interests have been at least considered, if not completely met, in the negotiations that occur.

In our case, the two primary parties are the individual with a disability and the community. The two main elements of our brokering are the individual’s preferences and inclusion into the community ( I mean the larger community, not the smaller world that people with disabilities all too often find themselves in.). Our negotiations work to insure that the individual takes part fully in the community and that the community is at the heart of the support the individual receives. We have a dual responsibility of invoking the community’s participation and keeping the community open to the individual’s participation. So, we broker between the person and the community to the mutual benefit of both.

This dual obligation requires us to work toward the building of a strong community, rather than just draw off the resources of the community. So, as the broker between the individual and community we must strive to make the community better as we assist the community to fully include people with disabilities. We must spend some of our time and other resources to strengthen the whole community so that it can continue to support those we serve and all others.