Local Community Cadres (LCCs) are regional community networks of families and professionals invested in supporting individuals affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related developmental disabilities through participation in the local cadres for the purpose of identifying local needs and making targeted changes to positively impact ASD at the community level.
To facilitate the sharing of information, training and resources that improve understanding and support of ASD and other disabilities through collaboration across community systems including, but not limited to family members, individuals, school, medical professionals, service providers, advocates, and judicial professionals.
Community members across diverse roles take joint responsibility to identify solutions that will work within their local community to improve the quality of life and inclusion of individuals with ASD and their families.
The core elements central to all cadres to create meaningful and lasting change include:
1. Collaboration & Networking: LCCs encourage bridging and collaboration across diverse points of view to:
- Facilitate networking and dialogue with openness to diverse ideas.
- Promote the sharing of resources and information relevant to the local community.
- Create innovative interdisciplinary solutions.
2. Information & Dissemination: Dialogue between LCC chapters, HANDS in Autism® and local stakeholders encourage:
- Ongoing evaluation and identification of needs in the community.
- Reciprocal sharing of resources and tools based upon those identified needs.
- Creation of a mechanism to inform and disseminate regarding regional, state and national initiatives.
3. Training & Development: Development of community awareness of and capacity to support individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities through training and professional development aimed at:
- Ensuring community awareness of available trainings and resources.
- Providing consistency in ASD knowledge across the community and its many systems.
- Advancing the capacity to both provide and sustain consistent knowledge and use of science-based methods of working with and supporting affected individuals and families.
4. Best Practices & Innovation: The interdisciplinary knowledge-base, connections, experience and skills of the LCC membership will encourage shared community responsibility and effort in addressing the needs of families and professionals supporting and caring for individuals with ASD and related disabilities that foster:
- Engagement at a systems level towards effective problem-solving and consistent practices.
- Facilitation towards development and sharing of solutions and resources related to local needs across systems.
- Using existing State and community resources to enhance local, as well as the broader statewide LCC action planning initiatives.
LCC R3 Initiative
LCCs have demonstrated they are an essential and needed component of the ASD support framework in the state, that is why HANDS in Autism® would like to launch an LCC Reorganize, Rethink and Refine (R3) initiative to better engage, refine, support and expand the LCCs across the state.
This LCC initiative includes the following phases:
1. Reassess: Engagement of communities and LCCs to reorganize efforts of the regional cadres and community chapters. HANDS will work with communities to organize an LCC mini-summit as a forum for this phase, so communities can engage stakeholders, evaluate membership of existing LCC chapters and the potential need for additional community chapters.
2. Reframe: HANDS will support each LCC in exploring their current regional and community needs (through collection of needs assessment data) and in discussing and brainstorming ideas and the development of a community big picture (or vision for the LCC) based upon the data and information collected through the needs assessment and at the regional LCC mini-summit.
3. Realign: Using the information and insights gathered in the first two phases, LCCs will:
- Refine their LCC plan of action through ongoing cadre meetings and discussions;
- Develop an updated plan of action for implementing fresh strategies across the region and communities; and
- Establish a mechanism for continually assessing outcomes and needs with ongoing data collection, review and community discussions.
How did LCCs Start?
In September 2010, HANDS conducted a summit to facilitate the development of Local Community Cadres within six regions of the state. The expectation was that Cadres would consist of regional representatives from across medical, school, community, and family systems to join together to take action in meeting the identified local community needs of individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder or related developmental disabilities. With regional representation, such groups would be able to work together on individualized needs for their local areas with their respective culture, resources, and systems at mind. It is for this reason we have limited cadre participation to the one area for which each cadre member most strongly represents whether that be by residence, job location, or proximity to either.