Special Education

Person-Centered Planning: “Picture of a Life”

What is it?

Picture of a Life is a formal 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.

Through the application of person-centered planning tools, a facilitator helps a person create a picture that contains all of the components that define his or her desired life. The Picture of a Life facilitator uses multiple methods to capture what a person really wants in life, while increasing the creativity of teams to facilitate a more satisfying and effective planning process. The information gathered is then organized to impact the design, selection and evaluation of support services, while still meeting both policy and system requirements.

Where is it happening?

Picture of a Life is being used to facilitate the transition of one student in Minnesota back to his home district.

Picture of a Life training will be offered to at least three educators in Minnesota each year beginning in the 2018-19 school year. After that date, we will share other locations where educators report the use of Picture of a Life and its impact.

What are we doing?

The Picture of a Life training gives service coordinators, transition specialists, or others responsible for helping people transition, 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 should be present 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 in life through graphic recording.
  • Identify support needs and associated costs to deliver services.
  • Organize information into a document that is useful in helping people design, evaluate, and select services.
  • Help officials assess community capacity against documented need.

During the two-day training session, participants learn and apply Person-Centered Thinking and planning tools that focus on helping people envision the life they want in their community. In person-centered planning, multiple methods 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 method can help teams increase creativity and facilitate more satisfying and effective planning meetings.

Completion of two-day Person-Centered Thinking (PCT) training is required prior to Picture of a Life training. We are providing four (4) 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, then we will select three to five educators each year from those who demonstrate PCT skills.

How much and how well?

So far, one educator has been trained in Picture of a Life in Minnesota. One Picture of a Life plan was partially completed in April 2017 with a self-rated score of 11 percent on the “Formal Person-Centered Planning Scoring Criteria and Checklist.” The educator is currently involved in an informal partnership with a person-centered planning facilitator, and Picture of a Life trainer, from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

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).