The first annual Texas Microboard Confreence was held on Saturday July 17 in The
Woodlands. Microboards are a powerful tool for the families of disabled family members. The goal of a Microboard is to bring together a group of family and friends committed to the well being of a disabled child or adult. This group will come together for an initial meeting with the focus person and (with the help of a trained, volunteer) comes up with a plan of action called a PATH. A PATH is a graphic planning tool created with the dreams and goals of the focus person. On this PATH will be goals and dreams like going to Disney World, learning to ride a bike, becoming part of a social group or even getting a job. The focus is on what the individual is interested in achieving over the next few years. On the plan are initial steps to achieving these goals and names of people who will help. It is recommended that a new PATH be completed every 2 years. The board will meet quarterly to assess the progress of these goals and make adjustments if needed.
One of the benefits to having a Microboard in place is the shared interest for the focus person. Parents don’t have to shoulder the entire responsibility for planning their son or daughter’s future alone. A major concern for the family of children with special needs is what will happen when to the child when they are no longer living. Having a Microboard in place takes away that worry. Plans can be made in advance with the board to ensure the wishes of the parents and the focus person be carried out. The board is designed to grow and change along with the child adding and retiring members as time goes on. Some parents have chosen not to be on the board at all, or may be unavailable to actively participate.
The biggest benefit of a Microboard is the empowerment of the focus person. This provides a way for them participate in the community and enjoy a higher quality of life. Board members might take the focus person to their place of business, social clubs, or sports teams to introduce them to new people and places. If a focus person wants to work at the Zoo, a board member might make some phone calls to find out what is required to volunteer there. Some goals might require training or developmental steps be taken before completing the goal. If there is the goal to live independently or to drive a car, the board would go to work taking a look at what steps would be needed to achieve those goals.
There are two types of Microboards: (Taken from The ARC of Texas Website)
Natural Supports. The Microboard can use readily available “natural” supports and resources by finding people willing to help in a systematic way and using generic community resources (i.e. housing program funding, grants from local banks, volunteer services, etc.). The corporate structure of the Microboard ensures sustainability of the support network. It gives families peace of mind that something legal and concrete is in place with people who know and care for the individual.
Provider. If an individual receives Medicaid Waiver Program funding from the state, his or her
Microboard can apply to be a provider of Home and Community Services (HCS) or Texas Home Living(TxHL) for the person. The Microboard would manage all aspects of the individual’s care and subcontract with staff who would be paid by the Microboard with waiver program funding.
When the Microboard serves as a provider, the arrangement can benefit the individual with a disability in several ways:
a) The Microboard can build resources in the nonprofit bank account for the benefit
of the individual with the disability. Some examples are buying a washer/dryer for the individual’s home
or an automobile that staff will use to drive the individual to approved locations for recreation or shopping.
b) The Microboard nonprofit provider can share housing expenses with the individual by renting office space in the person’s home. This allows individuals on a fixed income (i.e., SSI or SSDI) more financial flexibility to pay rent and utilities in homes and communities of their choice.
c) The Microboard can choose an amount to pay supported home living or direct-care workers, therefore attracting and retaining higher-quality staff.
The ARC of Houston can provide families with all the tools and training necessary to begin and operate a Microboard. The ARC of Texas has formed the Texas Microboard Collaboration to provide ongoing guidance for Microboards.
For More information contact:
The Texas Microboard Collaboration
(800) 252-9729 x 123