Special Education

Person-Centered Practices

Person-centered practices are a continuum of strategies and activities that support the informed choice of students and families to make or have input into both major transitions and everyday life decisions. Person-centered practices focus on the interests and needs of the person receiving instruction or support. They emphasize each person’s strengths and dreams rather than weaknesses or deficits.

What does person-centered mean?

Person-centered principles and practices are a way of assuring that people with disabilities have the same rights and responsibilities as other people, including having control over their lives, making their own choices and contributing to the community in a way that makes sense to the person. The renewed emphasis on person-centered work comes from multiple sources, including federal rules and requirements, state rules, state statute and a court-settlement agreement.

Person-centered practices are a cornerstone of Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunities to live their lives like individuals without disabilities. For more information about the Olmstead Plan, visit Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan website.

Why use person-centered practices?

Used as a continuum, person-centered practices can ensure that all students and their families have teams that use the most current information about their strengths, interests and needs to make informed choices about where they will learn, work, live and play in the most integrated settings possible where they can be active members of their home, school and local community.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will guide the development of training, support and strategies to implement person-centered practices.

  • Practices are strategies/activities that are teachable, doable, repeatable and measurable.
  • Students and their families are the focus as they take the lead in the discussion and decision-making regarding where they will live, learn, work and play.

MDE will focus on supporting educators to implement person-centered practices that have the following core features:

  • Strengths-based.
  • Person and family-led.
  • Involves people from across home, school and community.
  • Awareness and sensitivity to issues of culture, race, age, sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Information about student and family preferences to ensure each team member’s preparedness.
  • Informed choice that balances information that is both important to and for the person.

MDE Person-Centered Practices Currently Available

Person-Centered Thinking (PCT): Everyone needs to use the person-centered skills that underlie person-centered planning. PCT makes it more likely that plans developed will be used, acted on and require less effort and time to update since information is gathered naturally through everyday discovery tools.

MDE will schedule free two-day PCT trainings each year. Trainings for the 2018-19 school year are:

Interagency Coordinated Individualized Education Program (IEP): A pilot project designed to improve outcomes for students by using the IEP process to improve interagency coordination and use core concepts of person-centered practices.

Person-Centered Planning – Picture of a Life (PoaL): A formal person-centered planning process to identify what a person wants in his or her life when considering a transition. Through the use of graphic recording, participants learn how to help teams discover what needs to be present in a person’s life to contribute to his or her happiness, comfort, and satisfaction – all while ensuring health and safety.

For more information or answers to questions about the material on this page, email MDE’s person-centered practices team (mde.person-centered@state.mn.us) or call 651-582-8590.

Positive supports are about respecting the dignity and rights of every person, while offering individualized and effective services. Positive support approaches help people using a variety of proven support strategies that do not include punishment or seclusion. Learn more about positive supports from the Positive Supports Minnesota website.