Florida ARF & Member Agencies Join Governor Scott to Celebrate $36 Million in Funding for APD Waiting List
Tallahassee, FL (May 31, 2013) Over the course of a few weeks, Governor Rick Scott visited Bishop Grady Villas, Pine Castle, and LARC to celebrate $36 million in funding for th e Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list. Previously the Governor visited the Association for the Development of the Exceptional and Central Florida Communities to share his budget proposal. Florida ARF and disability stakeholders stood with Governor Scott in support of the increase in funding for APD in the 2013-2014 state budget. Governor Scott said, “I want every Floridian, including those with disabilities, to be able to follow their dreams. By investing $36 million in funding for APD for the first time in eight years, individuals with disabilities will be able to receive services in their communities and more people will be able to get the skills they need to have a job.” Florida ARF President & CEO Suzanne Sewell said, “Our membership is thrilled that Governor Scott and lawmakers truly placed Florida families first this year while balancing the need to invest in economic development issues and improvements to Florida’s educational system. We are delighted with the outcome of this budget and applaud all who supported the great initiatives within it. We are also pleased that the governor has visited so many community provider agencies to share his Florida Families First budget and to express his commitment to support job development opportunities for individuals with disabilities.”
The End is in Sight
Tallahassee, FL (April 29, 2013) As of today, we are in the last week of the 2013 Legislative Session, and most of the state agencies our member agencies work with fared well regarding budget appropriations and substantive policy legislation. Not having to fight budget cuts was indeed good! Also, it is rewarding to see the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is beginning to receive funding to address its waitlist for DD services. Health care expansion was a contentious issue this year and is still being debated.
Florida ARF & Member Agencies Celebrate DD Days
Tallahassee, FL (March 7, 2013) Florida ARF and several member agencies along with other DD stakeholders gathered to celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day at the Capitol. During the press conference, Governor Rick Scott shared his proposed 2013-2014 budget of $1.1 billion for APD. This budget allocation provides $36 million in needed funding to people on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waitlist of more than 22,000 people. The Florida Families First Budget also includes $2.5 million to assist people on the waitlist who have indicated that they want to go to work. Governor Rick Scott said, “We are working to make sure every Florida family has the opportunity to get a job and a great education, and from our efforts – it’s working. Since December 2010, Florida has created around 200,000 private-sector jobs and our unemployment rate continues to drop. Our commitment to helping people on the APD waitlist, as well as assisting people who want to work, is another step in our plan to ensure that every Floridian has an opportunity to live the American Dream.” APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “We greatly appreciate Governor Scott’s support of our work to improve the agency. We have been meeting with families and stakeholders to determine the best approach to begin serving people on our waiting list. We hope the legislature will also see the importance of this critical funding for the agency. The additional money for employment opportunities will help individuals to become self-sufficient, enhance their quality of life, and benefit their families and Florida’s economy.” Florida ARF commends the Governor on his budget proposal and were happy to participate in DD Day 2013.
Florida ARF & Member Agencies Celebrate the Governor’s Announcement of $36 Million for APD Waiting List
Miami, FL (February 8, 2013) Florida Governor Rick Scott, joined by Florida ARF, member agencies, and other disability stakeholders, highlighted his Florida Families First 2013-2014 Budget, which provides $36 million in funding to people on the APD waiting list. The $36 million increase will allow an additional 750 individuals with critical needs on the waiting list to enroll in the APD Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver so they will receive services in their local communities. Governor Scott made his announcement at the campus of the Association for the Development of the Exceptional (ADE) on North Miami Avenue. At the press conference, the Governor also highlighted a $2.5 million targeted investment through his budget that provides career services to individuals with disabilities that would open up job opportunities to 1,000 people. “We are truly thrilled to hear this great news and offer our heartfelt thanks to Governor Scott. The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities applauds Governor Scott’s decision to step forward and meet the needs of Floridians with developmental disabilities. The addition of funding to enroll individuals on the developmental disabilities Medicaid waiver will greatly enhance the lives of these people and those who provide for their daily needs. Additionally, providing supported employment services for another 1,000 individuals means these individuals have the opportunity to achieve their employment goals for the first time in their lives,” said Florida ARF President & CEO Suzanne Sewell.
DD Stakeholders Meet to Share Legislative Platforms
Tallahassee, FL (January 31, 2013) Florida ARF joined with other Stakeholders who serve individuals with disabilities to share their 2013 Legislative Platforms and identify areas where the various groups could work together. The event was hosted by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council and included presentations from the DD Council, Florida ARF, The Arc of Florida, the Florida Family Care Council, Disability Rights Florida, Florida Self Advocacy Alliance, Supported Employment providers, the Department of Education – Exceptional Student Education, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Florida ARF President & CEO Suzanne Sewell presented the Association’s 2013 Legislative Platform and responded to several questions from the participants.
Florida ARF & RESPECT of Florida Staff Wish 2013 Greetings and Best Wishes!
Tallahassee, FL (December 17, 2012) The staff of Florida ARF and RESPECT of Florida wish each of our member agencies, Employment Centers, and stakeholders a happy and prosperous 2013. Our staff are committed to assisting over 100 community agencies with achievement of their mission to provide quality services and supports to assist individuals with disabilities in achievement of their individual goals. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to represent your interests and we look forward to serving you in 2013!
Florida ARF Announces Employment Outcomes Professional Training System
Tallahassee, FL (November 5, 2012) Florida ARF is pleased to announce that as a result of a partnership with DTG-EMP, we are now able to offer Employment Outcomes Professional Training (EOPII) for agencies that provide employment support and placement services for individuals with disabilities. The training is internationally acclaimed and has shown positive outcomes regarding job placements for individuals with disabilities. Based on the premise that job development succeeds when job developers know and understand employer needs, participants will learn proven techniques for approaching employers. Several organizations from across the state have already participated in train-the-trainer sessions led by Allen Anderson, the author and developer of the system. Suzanne Sewell, President and CEO stated, “We are pleased to bring this internationally recognized training to Florida, and I am confident that more Floridians with disabilities will be employed in their communities because of well-trained employment specialists who have a new understanding of employer needs.” Ongoing training will be conducted by Florida ARF trainers on a periodic basis throughout the state. Organizations who provide employment services and are interested in implementing the EOPII model should contact Courtney Swilley.
RESPECT of Florida Recognized During Disability Employment Awareness Celebration
Tallahassee, FL (October 31, 2012) On October 18th, Governor Rick Scott celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month at the Tallahassee City Hall by recognizing exceptional employers of Floridians with disabilities. Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad was one of the first dignitaries recognized by program host Barbara Palmer, Director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The Department was recognized for its commitment to hiring over 600 Floridians with disabilities through an award winning public/private partnership with Florida ARF d/b/a RESPECT of Florida. Suzanne Sewell, Florida ARF President & CEO, and RESPECT of Florida Director John McBride thanked Secretary Ananth Prasad for his leadership and commitment to employing individuals with disabilities.
Florida ARF & FADSP Celebrate Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Recognition Week
Tallahassee, FL (September 14, 2012) During the week of September 9-15, Florida ARF & the Florida Alliance for Direct Support Professional (FADSP) proudly celebrated DSP Recognition Week. We are pleased to announce Governor Rick Scott signed a letter recognizing DSPs and raising awareness for the Direct Support Professional Recognition Week. Scott stated “Direct support professionals provide a broad range of support for many Floridians with disabilities. These dedicated professionals help disabled citizens by increasing their independence, keeping them connected with their family and community, and offering support and encouragement on a daily basis.” We totally agree with Governor Scott!
As part of the recognition activity, Florida ARF and FADSP sponsored feature articles on DSPs across the state who represent the backbone of our direct care service system. Their stories clearly communicated the loving attitude and dedication of many DSPs who give so freely of themselves to serve others. DSPs that are making a tremendous difference across the state are:
To all the DSPs across Florida, we offer a hearty “Thank you for all that you do!”
Florida ARF Hosts Monthly AFFINITY Call for Employment Forum Members
August 2012 (Tallahassee, FL) On August 30, Florida ARF Employment Consultant Bill Sandonato hosted the monthly Florida ARF AFFINITY Group call for Employment Forum members. The August presentation featured updates on Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Counseling as a new Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) service. Guest presenter Harold Thornton from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation provided useful information on how Work Incentives Planning and Assistance services can be accessed. We are pleased that member agencies are working in partnership with DVR to provide this much needed service for individuals who are recipients of Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Each month, Florida ARF hosts one-hour AFFINITY Group calls. The calls are a member benefit and feature guest presenters and networking opportunities for agencies that provide employment related services and supports for individuals with disabilities.
Florida ARF President & CEO Presents to PCI Administrators
Tallahassee, FL (July 24, 2012) Florida ARF President & CEO Suzanne Sewell met with Quest Management Group and five Pensacola Care, Inc. ICF facility representatives from Pensacola, Ft. Walton Beach, Panama City, Tallahassee, and Tampa to discuss “Bridging the Gap Between ICF/DD & Community-Based Care.” Sewell shared information with participants regarding the overall makeup of ICFs, the concept of active treatment, vacancy trend data, Department of Justice activity, and future trends that will shape the program. During the Florida ARF 36th Annual Conference, Sewell will share a similar presentation with Association ICF/DD members.
Florida ARF & RESPECT of Florida Reflect on the 13th Anniversary of Olmstead
Tallahassee, FL (June 26, 2012) On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that the unjustified institutional isolation of people with disabilities is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). On the 13th anniversary of this civil rights decision, Florida ARF, RESPECT of Florida, and our members remain committed to eliminating discrimination and to meeting the needs and concerns of individuals with disabilities. While this landmark decision has guided progress for individuals with disabilities over the last 13 years, our advocacy efforts must remain strong to ensure even more success. We still have much work to do to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the community based services and supports required to promote independence and choice. Our intended legacy remains: To make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities. We join with our member agencies in reaffirming this goal and look forward to the successes to come!