Reflections for 2022

photo of Leigh Anne Wenning

By Superintendent Leigh Anne Wenning

It is officially 2022! Like many, the beginning of the year makes me take a look back on where we came from.

Having been in the developmental disabilities field for more than 20 years, I can look back and see the evolution of the system, especially the County Board of Developmental Disabilities system. Many of the changes were outside of the control of the local county boards, including the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities (SCBDD), and we are still feeling the impact even today.

For example, in Shelby County, SCBDD ran S&H Products in Sidney. We were located on the hill, as well as eventually on Stolle Avenue. SCBDD was a much larger organization then. As years passed, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid decided that County Boards should no longer be permitted to run an adult day program like S&H Products and gave a deadline for the separation or “privatization” of adult day services.

For Shelby County, that meant that S&H Products and its services became a private company and is no longer overseen by SCBDD. S&H Products now has their own CEO and their own Board to oversee their operations. SCBDD still works closely with S&H Products because we serve the same individuals with disabilities. Individuals who were receiving services there could remain at S&H Products or choose another private day provider in the area.

But what does that mean for the Shelby County Board of DD? It meant that since we no longer provided adult day services or transportation, our staff roster shrunk considerably to around 80 employees. But that doesn’t mean that there was nothing left for us to do. The remaining staff at the SCBDD still provide important and mandated services such as early intervention, service coordination and community engagement. We may not provide the services directly anymore at S&H Products, but we still fund all provider services and ensure that they have the tools they need to succeed. We work with employers to help people with disabilities obtain work. We help people with disabilities volunteer and access their community. We have service and support administrators who serve caseloads of individuals with disabilities and make sure that they are healthy, safe and have access to resources that they need, including home caregivers. In addition, our early intervention staff work with babies and toddlers to develop skills and grow. And of course, we are known for our special education preschool that provides services to the county school districts. All these supports are provided at no cost to individuals eligible for our services and are funded through local levies, as well as state and federal dollars.

Things have certainly changed since I got into the field many years ago, but everyone I work with still has a passion for serving people with disabilities. If you would like to know more about what we do at the Shelby County Board of DD, please check out our website at www.shelbydd.org and make sure to follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shelbydd.org.