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Our historical accomplishments

The Center for Self-Determination was formed as a non-profit organization in 2000, designed to continue the progress made during the period of national growth which was originally spawned by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ) in the late 1990’s. After an initial grant in 1993 given to Monadnock Developmental Services in Keene, New Hampshire, RWJ decided to extended grants to 19 states. Tom Nerney was the Director of the Grant Project at Monadnock and continued in the role of the RWJ Self-Determination project director until 2000. Tom is nationally recognized as a significant leader in the Self-Determination movement who developed both the philosophy and practice of Self-Determination and provided consultation and training across the country for several years.

Community Living Services, Inc. (CLS) is a non-profit organization in southeast Michigan supporting over 4,000 individuals in the metropolitan Detroit area covering 3 counties including Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. CLS was selected by the State of Michigan and the Detroit-Wayne Community Mental Health Agency to be one of the sites to implement a Self-Determination pilot project. CLS was considered a desired agency as it is largely urban and suburban unlike Monadnock which is in a more rural area of New Hampshire. CLS had pledged to reach out to 400 individuals in the 4 year grant period offering an opportunity to self-direct their own individual budgets based upon the outcomes of the Person Centered Planning (PCP) process. PCP became part of the Mental Health Statute in Michigan in 1996 and is guaranteed to every person receiving public mental health services. The 400 person project was the largest of the original 19 states that were funded by the RWJ Grant. The project eventually grew to include over 40 states that were interested in starting Self-Determination arrangements.

When the Grant project period ended in 2000, Jim Dehem, CLS’ President and CEO, partnered with Tom Nerney to set up the Center for Self-Determination in order to continue the work previously supported by RWJ. Tom has since retired but his legacy lives on. A number of his articles appear on this website.

CLS remains a national leader in the Self-Determination movement. Many of our experiences at CLS have enabled the Center for Self-Determination to provide years of learning and development of practices to meet the challenges that arise from a change in which supports and services are provided.

Although located within the offices of CLS, the Center for Self-Determination has a national network of trainers, presenters and consultants. There are leaders who work with the Center who have decades of various specialty skills and experience that relate to Self-Determination arrangements. Some of these specialties include individual budgeting, fiscal intermediaries, housing, independent support coordination and PCP facilitation, relationship building, de-institutionalism, systems transformation, CMS Rule compliance, information technology, managed care, Medicaid regulations, finance, authorization and claims, employment, inclusive community participation, supported decision making (alternatives to guardianship), PEER support, provider and staffing agents, policymaking, advocacy, school transition, entitlements, planning for the future and much, much more.