Special Education

Person-Centered Planning: “Picture of a Life”

What is it?

Picture of a Life is a formal person-centered planning practice to help people envision the life they want in their home, school, and community. Multiple strategies are applied to capture what a person really wants, and out of this a “picture of a life” is created, which contains all the elements of that person’s desired future. This strategy can help teams increase creativity and facilitate more satisfying and effective planning meetings. The information gathered is then organized to impact the design selection and evaluation of support services, while still meeting both policy and system requirements.

Why do it?

Everyone needs to use the Person-Centered Thinking® (PCT) skills that underlie planning. However, it helps to have at least one person on the team who has the facilitation and organizational skills to get information from the person and his or her closest friends, family and staff. Future plans may change with transitions to new supports and/or settings. Also, a person’s plan may change as his or her hopes and dreams change. A Picture of a Life facilitator can use these opportunities to capture any changes with new learning that has occurred, or help a team decide with the person what his or her preferred options might be prior to making a selection.

Where is it happening?

Picture of a Life has been used to:

  • Facilitate the transition of a student in Minnesota back to his home district.
  • Prepare a high school student for post-secondary career and college options.

Picture of a Life (PoL) training is being offered to at least three educators in Minnesota each year beginning in August 2019. We are preparing to share locations this year where educators report the use of Picture of a Life and its impact.

What are we doing?

We are providing Picture of a Life training to service coordinators, transition specialists, or others responsible for helping people transition. They learn the skills to build a picture of a person’s life that contains all of the components that together define his or her desired life. This training helps professionals learn to:

  • Explore four areas – home; meaningful and productive day; community; and professional supports – and describe what is necessary in each area.
  • Consider what is “important to” a person in context with what is “important for” them.
  • Increase the creativity of teams to capture what a person wants and needs through graphic recording.
  • Identify supports and costs to implement the plan. Organize information into a document that is useful in helping people design, evaluate, and select services.
  • Help teams get information to find more natural support options for a person in his or her community.

Completion of two-day PCT training is required prior to Picture of a Life training. We are providing three (3) no-cost annual PCT trainings to educators each year to acquire and practice effective PCT skills to learn how to discover and balance what is “important to” and what is “important for” a person. From those educators who demonstrate PCT skills, we will select three to five of them to attend a PoL training with no cost for registration each year. See more information about PCT on the Minnesota Department of Education website.

How much and how well?

So far, three (3) educators have been trained in Picture of a Life in Minnesota. One Picture of a Life plan has been completed with a self-rated score of 3 percent on the “Formal Person-Centered Planning Scoring Criteria and Checklist.” The educator has been involved in an informal partnership with a person-centered planning facilitator and Picture of a Life trainer from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, and plans to use the checklist to improve the plan and action steps this school year.

Results (so far):

We are in the exploration stage of implementation, so outcomes have not been formally established or measured yet.

Contact the Person-Centered Practices in Education Leadership Team (MDE.Person-Centered@state.mn.us).