County Coordinating Councils on Developmental Disabilities were originally established in 1971 by County Boards of Supervisors at the request of the State Human Relations Agency as committees to help plan and coordinate local services for persons with “mental retardation.” The Councils provided grass roots input on unmet needs, program development, and helped to avoid service duplication and fragmentation. They also helped pave the way and promote the integration of persons with disabilities into the general community. Members were appointed by the Supervisors and, in some instances, Councils were provided with some financial support. As today, Councils were composed of representatives of agencies, professionals, consumers, and the general public with knowledge of and an interest in the welfare of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
Current Purpose and Functions
With legislative changes that have occurred over the past years, the role of the local Coordinating Councils has also changed. Even though Coordinating Councils remain committees established by the Boards of Supervisors, they are no longer mandated by legislative action. There are still some specific activities for which these Councils are responsible besides their own selected or directed functions.
Councils are still used to prioritize county needs and to pass that information onto the Area Board II (Now called the State Council Regional Office) and Far Northern Regional Center (FNRC) which, in turn, uses that information to advocate and plan for resource development. The Councils also review issues relating to a given county and provide a public forum for the discussion of issues relating to persons with developmental disabilities. Regarding public education and information, Councils can sponsor, conduct and participate in activities which inform the public of the goals of integrating persons with developmental disabilities into the local community. Advocacy and legislative activities are another area of interest to Councils. Local Councils are also ideal for the development of communication in times of crisis.
Relationship to other Boards and Agencies
With regard to Far Northern Regional Center (FNRC), Councils are responsible for selecting County representatives to serve on FNRC’s Board of Directors. Members of the FNRC Board are also asked to be active participants on their Council to facilitate an exchange of information between the two bodies.
With regard to the Boards of Supervisors, although these Boards originally established County Coordinating Councils, most do not recall that activity nor really understand the role of these committees. It is extremely important to establish a relationship with the Supervisors in order to advise them of county issues regarding persons with developmental disabilities as well as assist them in forming relevant public policy. Since Councils are not mandated by any legislative action, their linkage to authority is via the Supervisors. It is suggested that an informational presentation regarding the Council, its roles and activities, be presented to the Supervisors. Thereafter the Supervisors should receive regular reports from the Councils, at public meetings, with a summary in written form. Even though county funding may be “tight,” Councils should not hesitate to request support funds, including money for postage, copying, office supplies, travel, etc. If no funds are available, they may be able to provide in-kind services.
With regard to provider agencies, there will be duplication of membership between the Councils and boards of directors of programs providing services to persons with developmental disabilities. While this is a healthy relationship, Councils must be cautioned to avoid becoming involved in the internal operations of these agencies and likewise not allow the problems of these services to become their only area of activity.
County Coordinating Councils fulfill a number of key roles:
- They recommend members for the Far Northern Regional Center Board of Directors
- They serve as a link in transmitting information between the Board and the community
- They provide Boards of Supervisors with information about persons with developmental disabilities
- They identify service needs
- They provide a forum to discuss topics related to the needs of persons with developmental disabilities
- They act as advocates for this special population
- Provide a forum for public education and information
The role of the County Coordinating Councils is a vital one which, if used effectively, enhances the lives of people with developmental disabilities throughout Northeastern California
All County Coordinating Councils should have bylaws with regard to their selected functions which are reviewed and updated regularly. The Council’s bylaws should discuss composition. Councils should include “D.D.” and “generic” agency representatives, service providers, members of the general public and parents of and/or persons who have developmental disabilities, with the goal of being at least 50% parents of and/or persons with developmental disabilities.
Butte County Coordinating Council
Talking Web Page