Partners in Policymaking Seeks 2021-2022 Participants

Want  to be a more effective self-advocate? Need to speak for young children who live with developmental disabilities and learn […]

Sarah St. Louis

Want  to be a more effective self-advocate? Need to speak for young children who live with developmental disabilities and learn about the system that serves them? It’s time to consider the 2021-2022 Partners in Policymaking Program. Minnesota adults with disabilities and parents of children with developmental disabilities are urged to look into the program now and apply before the July deadline.

The program was created by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities 35 years ago, and has been offered nationally and internationally. Through informative and interactive sessions, Partners teaches leadership skills and the process of developing positive partnerships with elected officials and other policymakers who make decisions about the services that they and family members use.

Since 1987, more than 1,100 self-advocates and parents have graduated in Minnesota. Partners in Policymaking is a free program for participants, covered in part by a federal appropriation from the Office on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

Consider the program requirements before applying. Participants must commit to attending eight sessions over the course of a year, September through May. No session is offered in December. They must have an interest in learning and practicing new skills in a comfortable and safe environment. They also need to have a desire to build and strengthen a network of people from diverse cultural backgrounds and life experiences, and a willingness to learn from national and state experts with shared vision and values.

Homework assignments are given after each class and turned in at the following session.

Fall marks the 39th class. The program is designed for parents of young children with developmental disabilities and adults with disabilities. Sessions are held on Friday and Saturday except in March which is on Sunday and Monday. The sessions are at a Bloomington hotel, with overnight accommodations for those who travel a distance to attend. Class members are matched and housed in double occupancy rooms. Mileage reimbursement is also available for class members. Meals, class materials and interpreter or language translation services are also covered.

For respite/childcare and personal care attendants (PCA), reimbursement up to a maximum dollar amount per weekend session is available for participants needing these services when another funding source does not pick up these expenses. The program does not provide onsite childcare services. Family members are not permitted to stay at the hotel during the weekend training sessions unless a family member is serving as a PCA to a class member.

Class size is limited to 35 participants. At this point in-person classes are planned, with social distancing and other safety practices.

Application deadline is July 9, Decisions will be made by August 13. Anyone with questions can contact Brenton Rice at the Odyssey Group, 651-242-6589 or [email protected]. Or visit

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