Advocacy by and for People with ABI (Acquired Brain Injury)
Public Policy of the Brain Injury Network Policy dated 9-4-10
Local Services vs. National Centers; Costly Duplication:The priority for funding must be at the local level. People with brain injuries require more programming in their local communities. Local programming should be the priority, not more national centers. We do not need any more national centers in Washington D. C. There are already numerous “national centers” related to brain injury in the vicinity of Washington D. C.
This emphasis on national centers takes away from the actual needs of individual brain injury survivors who have great difficulty functioning day-to-day after brain injury. Frankly, all of these national programs operating from Washington, D. C. do little to improve the lives of people with brain injuries. There is costly duplication because there are so many government and government sponsored entities providing information and support, resource directories, social online communities, etc. etc. There is even overlap regarding brain injury research, because quite a few different US government departments (Dept. of Education, Dept of Human Services, Dept. of Defense, etc.) independently oversee various research initiatives. And at this point it is as though all of the various national centers and departments situated around Washington D. C. are competing for funds, brain injury survivor participation, status and even bragging rights. You name it. Who gets lost in all of this? The people with the brain injuries.
What is needed is more of a focus and funding on local services and supports. One aspect of this is entitled “community reintegrative services”. These services cannot be delivered from Washington, D. C. They must operate in local communities. Community reintegrative services may help a person with a brain injury return to a “normal” life. But on the other hand, many people with brain injuries never fully reintegrate and never return to a “normal” life. These individuals need life-long support services, such as assistive housing, paratransit, subsidized medical care, and even sometimes such basics as food. All of these services must come from the local level.
We know society doesn’t want to expend many resources to provide supports to people who are disabled from brain injury, but, if anyone is asking what would truly benefit people with brain injuries, it is day-to-day living supports, delivered in the local service area, which is to say, delivered where people actually live, whether it be in the big city or in an isolated rural area. There is limited funding. Money that could be spent in the local area is being diverted to all of this top heavy programming in the Washington, D. C. area. More attention should be paid to the local level.