Project Name
Supported Decision-Making

Type of practice
Promising practice (practice is proven to achieve outcomes)

Area of Emphasis
Quality Assurance and training in self-advocacy, leadership, and self-determination

Project/activity years

Population of focus

Strategies used 
Supporting and Educating Communities
Interagency Collaboration and Coordination
Coordination with Related Councils, Committees, and Programs
Informing Policymakers

Project description
Wisconsin’s developmental disabilities council took the lead in 2018 in developing supported decision-making materials in English, Spanish and Hmong while also working closely with the Legislature to get a supported decision-making law passed that includes a legally recognized agreement in statute. Since then, statewide petitions for guardianship have steadily decreased and outreach has reached more than 12,000 through materials dissemination and direct training. Our Council is also part of the national Youth Voices, Youth Choices initiative and has 4 trained youth ambassadors who tell their stories statewide. Offering the training and materials in other languages has had huge benefits: in a single Spanish-speaking non-profit organization in Milwaukee, no families have sought guardianship since the law was passed in 2018, and 58 young adults and their families entered into formal supported decision-making agreements rather than guardianships.

Our statewide Department of Public Instruction worked with our Council to put out a best practice guide on SDM that is now used with all youth in transition.

Impact (or impact-to-date) of the project/activity for people with ID/DD and their families
More people with I/DD are retaining their full legal rights and making their own decisions about their lives, and more service providers/state systems are supporting and encouraging supported decision-making as a first step toward adulthood, rather than going straight to guardianship.

Story perspective
Person with ID/DD

What were things like BEFORE you/your family/partner/community participated in the project/activity?
The story is provided in video format and available at the following URL address:

What are things like AFTER you/family/partner/community participated in the project/activity?
Please see URL address above to the story.

What was most beneficial to you/family/partner/community from participating in this project or practice?
Please see URL address above to the story.

Provide a summary statement that highlights the role of the DD Council in achieving positive outcomes through this project.  The Wisconsin Board provided leadership and investments to address alternatives to guardianship. Supported decision-making empowers individuals with disabilities to make informed decisions about their life that protect their rights and ensure their safety and privacy. It involves family and friends working together to help them make complex decisions.

We invite you to copy and paste the URL address into your browser to see our resources!

Supported Decision-Making and Guardianship Alternatives

Contact Information
Name: Beth Swedeen
Council location: Wisconsin