Keep Up the Good Work!
I’m quick to point out misuses of tax dollars and state programs that are going nowhere. But it’s important to notice when state-sponsored programs do something right, too. I was impressed by Susan Weich’s column in the Post-Dispatch about a new daycare program for adults with developmental disabilities. Here’s how the director of Resources for Human Development (which runs the program for the Department of Mental Health) describes its unique style:
“Most other day habilitation services hire staff who have experience working with people with disabilities, but we took a backwards approach,” he said. “We hired artists and musicians and are training them to work with people with disabilities. It’s been a really cool thing.”
The “you don’t have research” education naysayers could learn a lot from Resources for Human Development (RHD). RHD didn’t wait around for a university to do a controlled study on arts and disabled adults. It tried out the idea in a few places — Boston and Rhode Island — and then decided to open a new center in St. Louis when those early results were encouraging. Furthermore, RHD recognized that credentials are just a proxy for knowledge and skills, rather than an end in themselves. Artists can be trained to work with disabled adults, just as mid-career scientists can be trained to teach high school chemistry.
RHD’s flexibility and innovation should serve as an inspiration to other organizations in the public sector.