The mission of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC) is to serve as the review board for policies, procedures and practices related to the delivery of services for all residents with exceptionalities or disabilities in Delaware from birth to death. The GACEC also serves as the state advisory panel for agencies providing educational services and programs to children (birth through age 26) in Delaware through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The primary function of the GACEC is to advise and advocate as necessary in order to achieve its mission. The GACEC served as the State’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Children beginning in 1972 and was later renamed the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens to encompass the expansion of its role in Delaware. The passage of Senate Bill No. 20 in 2015 increased the role of the GACEC to include acting in an advisory capacity with the Department of Education and the Department of Correction on the provision of services to inmates with disabilities in the joint agency prison education system.
The volunteer council and agency staff participate on over sixty councils, boards, or committees, such as the DOE Access to General Education Curriculum (AGEC), Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC), State Council for Persons with Disabilities (SCPD), and the Center for Disability Studies Community Advisory Council (CAC), to name a few. Involvement on the various committees or task forces and collaborations with other agencies assists the GACEC in its ability to advise and advocate for systemic changes. The GACEC works in collaboration with the Exceptional Children Resources workgroup of the Delaware Department of Education on issues affecting the education of students with exceptionalities.
The GACEC also works with individuals and organizations in the private sector to assist with advocacy projects that provide information and assist individuals with disabilities. Through its participation with other groups, the Council can guide the design of programs, community services and supports for persons with special needs. Council educates Delawareans on issues and services related to children, youth, and adults with exceptionalities. Increased awareness and education on disability issues leads to improvements in inclusion, productivity, and equality for persons with disabilities. Council also advises and provides recommendations for systemic change activities that allow individuals with disabilities and their families to have input into the design and provision of needed community services including individualized supports and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, and productivity through culturally competent programs.
Council believes strongly in its mission to advise and advocate on behalf of individuals with exceptionalities to improve their lives.
GACEC staff includes an Executive Director, Wendy Strauss, an Officer Manager, Kathie Cherry, and an Administrative Coordinator, Sybil White, each funded at 37.5 hours per week. The Executive Director performs administrative responsibilities, prepares Council reports and correspondence, and has liaison responsibilities specifically with the Department of Education (DOE) and generally within Delaware’s human services delivery system.
GACEC is a volunteer Council and holds scheduled meetings which are open to the public. Officers are elected annually, with the elected chairperson responsible for providing the Council its primary leadership and supervision for the staff members. The Board of Directors consists of the officers, committee co-chairs, and the Past Chairperson. The Council developed and is guided by its By-Laws, and a Code of Ethics to effectively discharge its diverse responsibilities.
Related Topics: about, Delaware Senate Bill 353, GACEC, Governor's Advisory Council For Exceptional Citizens, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Kathie P. Cherry, mission, responsibilities, staff, Sybil White, Wendy S. Strauss