How Partners in Policymaking developed

In 1986 in the state of Minnesota, United States of America, Colleen Wieck noticed a remarkable thing about the way public policy worked for self-advocates, parents and relatives of disabled people. Important policies and practices were being developed for them and about them, whilst these people were largely absent from the policymaking process.

Colleen believed that this was because people were not offered the knowledge, skills, tools and networks to enable them to play a full part in the policymaking process. She believed that something could and should be done about this.

The result was the development of a leadership training course called Partners in Policymaking by Colleen Wieck Ph.D., Director of the Minnesota Governors Planning Council of Development Disabilities, and Ed Skarnulius Ph.D., of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The World Institute on Disability adopted the Partners in Policymaking programme in recognition of its potential as a model for leadership training for parents of disabled children and disabled adults.  It soon became a rapid growing movement and graduates from the course soon became a driving force in the policy making processes in the United States.

In England

In 1996 Lynne Elwell, Chris Gathercole and Paul Taylor adapted Partners in Policymaking for the UK and the first course was run in Oldham in the North West. Before this, the training that was available in the UK was designed for service workers. Sometimes parents would be invited, but it was hard to understand the language and how the systems worked.

Over time, Partners in Policymaking Courses developed and expanded ad now run in most areas of the UK. Outside of England courses have also run in Scotland, Ireland, Holland and Portugal. All the courses are coordinated and run by family members.


Last Updated : 04 January 2016. Page Author: philippa.barker.