The Arcadia Institute launched the Community Broker Program in April 2012. Even though we have a long way to go to fully realize the potential of this new venture, the results of our work so far are encouraging. The focus of Community Brokering is to assist an people to develop community pathways to realize their dreams for people. Community pathways lead toward meaningful activity, inclusive living arrangements, and competitive employment. Brokering provides opportunities for people to engage in the whole community as they choose.
The underlying philosophy of the Community Broker Program is that our staff act as the broker between the individual and the community. Through true person centered planning that occurs over an extended process, and not just one meeting we keep the focus on the individual and his or her dreams for becoming a full community participant. Realizing one’s dream is based on relationships and networking in the community to meet one’s goals. This process is really not new. In developing the community broker concept we are heavily indebted to the work of people like John and Connie Lyle-O’Brien, Marsha Forest, Jack Pearpoint, Linda Kahn and Beth Mount.
The basic steps in the Community Broker process are:
• Getting to know the person through a variety of interactions in various places in the community • Identifying the people in the person’s Community Circle • Discovering the person’s Dream • Learning about the person’s gifts and needs for support - communication style - supports needed to be in the community - weekly routine • Inviting people to the person’s futures planning meeting • Convening the futures planning meeting – MAP or PATH • Following along to implement the plan • Convening Follow Along Meetings to track progress or trouble shoot • Creating new MAP or PATH as necessary
A diagram of the Community Broker Process
To date we are working with 24 individuals and most closely with 12 of them. Below is a graphic of the dreams and gifts of these 12 people. Notice the commonalities and yet individuality of each dream in the picture below. Many of them want to have a job and live independently. Some see themselves having and supporting their own families. A couple of people really want to learn how to read better.
A graphic rendition of the dreams of 12 people we are working with
We have also been tracking outcomes of Community Brokering. So far 10 people have increased the number of people in their community circle. Eight people have begun to participate in meaningful community activity that is not in special programs. Eight people have moved closer to competitive employment. Three people are exploring more independent living. Below is a graphic report of the outcomes of Community Brokering so far.