CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership

Supported Decision Making In The United States

Supported decision making (SDM) is a flexible alternative to guardianship which provides a process that recognizes people with disabilities as persons before the law, providing a pathway to exercise legal capacity by focusing on developing supports to enable autonomous decision-making. The main aim of this white paper by CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership, was to synthesize published literature that might apply to use of SDM within the United States, describing policy, procedure, and practice approaches of SDM, as well as any pertinent empirical evidence to provide insight and inform stakeholder groups of best practices and benefits of SDM over other forms of legal representation. Legal manuscripts, government documents, as well as grey literature were also included to expand the review.

Key Points of Findings:

  • In terms of social justice, SDM is a more sensible option for legal determinations
  • Concerns have been raised by opponents of SDM, regarding the potential for abuse of power
  • Flexibility in the provision of supports surrounding decision making, helps to ensure autonomy and self-determination
  • SDM advocates have noted the limited evidence available about the application of SDM in the United States
  • Stigma against people with developmental disabilities present significant challenges in the implementation of SDM
  • Evidence of successful SDM model projects can serve as frameworks to guide others


Download the voting data briefDOWNLOAD THE SDM WHITE PAPER



This project was funded by the New York Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the New York Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and endorsement should not be assumed.

New York Developmental Disabilities Planning Council



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