Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council Selects Penn-Mar Human Services and TransCen Inc. to Provide Transformational Assistance to Community Service Providers - Penn-Mar

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council Selects Penn-Mar Human Services and TransCen Inc. to Provide Transformational Assistance to Community Service Providers

Posted on May 28, 2021

BALTIMORE — May 25, 2021 — The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council (Council) today announced that it has selected Penn-Mar Human Services and TransCen Inc. to conduct a 17-month demonstration project to provide technical assistance and affect organizational change to five community service providers licensed, certified, or approved by the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA).

Funded by the Council with a grant of $150,000, Penn-Mar and TransCen together will lead the initiative to support the selected providers to reimagine, refocus, and rebuild their business and service models during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and to identify effective strategies that can be replicated. The goal of the project is to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) receive services in a seamless, individualized and sustainable way, whether they are at home, on-site with a provider, or in the community.

Nonprofits Penn-Mar, a provider of supports and services to nearly 2,000 people with IDD in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and TransCen, a national organization whose mission is to improve education and employment success of youth and young adults with disabilities, joined forces to develop their winning proposal, which was submitted in response to the Council’s RFP “Rebuilding DDA Providers Throughout Maryland Through Technical Assistance.”

“We’re excited to begin this transformational initiative with Penn-Mar and TransCen,” said Rachel London, Council executive director. “Our review team felt that their combined experience coupled with their proposed activities aligned with the outcomes the Council wanted to see –that people with developmental disabilities live the lives they want with the supports they need.”

Reimagine, Refocus, and Rebuild

The Council’s five-year state plan includes the objective of increasing access to community-based services and supports for people with developmental disabilities. The goal of the demonstration project is to meet that objective in response to the challenges wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

“COVID-19 created unprecedented responses by federal, state, and local governments that impacted the lives of all Marylanders, including people with developmental disabilities and their families,” said London. “Over the course of the year we saw differences around the state in how people with developmental disabilities received the supports and services they needed, with many providers meeting the challenges brought on by the pandemic in new and creative ways.

In line with our advocacy and policy work, we’re advocating for change and creativity and the possibility of rebuilding a system that really supports people to live the lives they want. We knew that we could use our funding to shape that change.”

Strategic Partnership

Penn-Mar and TransCen have a decade-long history of collaboration that began when Penn-Mar transformed its employment services to include Customized Employment – the competitive community integrated approach that matches the talents and skills of an employee with the needs of an employer.

“TransCen has a very unique and comprehensive set of strategies and skill sets around training and education. They are seen nationally as a thought leader in this space,” said Michael Shriver, director of Penn-Mar Consulting. “From our perspective, we see ourselves as a very capable, forwarding-thinking practitioner with proven models of transformative success creating and implementing bold person-driven, community-based supports.”

Laura Owens, president of TransCen sees their partnership as having come full circle. “What is great about this collaboration is we have the knowledge about Customized Employment and how agencies move forward, and now Penn-Mar also has that knowledge. They’re the boots on the ground. They transformed their services and are able to share their insights and success.”

Both organizations will assist the Council in selecting the five Maryland providers to participate in the initiative.

The proposal includes listening sessions with advocates and families, agency self-assessments, webinar training around “building meaningful lives,” Value Stream Mapping based on Lean principles (a process for creating a more effective business by eliminating wasteful practices and improving efficiency), strategic and implementation action planning, staff development training and technical assistance, and best practices implementation. The project will end with a statewide conference that will give an opportunity for project pilot providers to showcase their change efforts and feature universal presentation topics of interest to professionals, families and self-advocates that can be replicated.

“The biggest thing we hope for is a change in philosophy that will lead to a change in practice,” said Owens.

For more information about the Rebuilding DDA Providers initiative, contact Michael Shriver, director of Penn-Mar Consulting, at

About the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council’s (Council) mission is to create change to make it possible for people with developmental disabilities to live the lives they want with the support they need. The Council works with people with developmental disabilities, their family members, organizations, and community members. Together we find solutions to problems and take action to bring about change.

About Penn-Mar Human Services

Penn-Mar Human Services’ mission is to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) live courageous lives full of self-determination, independence, and equity. Founded in 1981, Penn-Mar serves nearly 2,000 adults with IDD each year through its community living, day learning, customized employment, family and peer support, and respite programs in Carroll, Harford, Frederick, Howard, and Baltimore county in Maryland, and in southern York county in Pennsylvania. Penn-Mar’s approach is innovative, person-centered, and successful, and through meaningful employment, community inclusion, and residential choice, the people Penn-Mar supports are empowered to live their best lives.

About TransCen

TransCen, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), private non-profit corporation that was created in 1986 to develop programs, methodologies and systems integration to enable effective school to work transition of youth with disabilities. Working with both local and national projects, TransCen—a name adopted to illustrate its role as a “transition center”—is known for its training and technical assistance in school-to-work transition initiatives, systems change in education, career development of individuals with disabilities, and related research and dissemination. TransCen has become a leader in the industry with a national and international reputation for promoting employment and community participation of people with disabilities through direct services, consulting, technical assistance, and research.

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