Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez Champions Employment of Individuals with Disabilities

Miami, FL (November 22, 2019) Today, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez joined with RESPECT of Florida partners to showcase employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities. Hosted by Goodwill Industries of South Florida, the event featured a discussion between Lieutenant Governor Nuñez, Department of Management Services (DMS) Secretary Jonathan Satter, and RESPECT of Florida. The event highlighted the RESPECT program which is administered by the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities via a contractual relationship with DMS. Nuñez stated: "RESPECT is a program to be championed and supported by all our state and local government agencies because through governmental entity purchasing, Floridians with disabilities are given the opportunity to learn new skills that can be utilized in competitive jobs and thereby enhance their opportunities to live the American Dream."

RESPECT of Florida has been an industry leader that has helped Floridians with disabilities find jobs and learn new job skills for 45 years. This year alone, through partnerships with a network of about 50 nonprofit agencies statewide, RESPECT has helped employ 1200+ people with disabilities. Florida ARF President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, "We are delighted and honored that Lieutenant Governor Nuñez and Secretary Satter see the value of the RESPECT program and know that governmental entity purchasing literally creates jobs for individuals with significant disabilities through one purchase at a time. Thank you Lieutenant Governor Nuñez and Secretary Satter for your support!"


Florida ARF Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week

Tallahassee, FL (November 8, 2019) On November 11-17, 2019, Florida ARF will be celebrating National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), a nationwide celebration established by the U.S. Department of Labor to bring together leading business, labor, education, and other critical partners to showcase how apprenticeship programs are closing the U.S. skills gap in the American workforce. Florida ARF is pleased to serve as a sponsoring agency with the Department of Education’s apprenticeship initiative for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and is excited that DSP apprentices are completing intensive instruction as well as working a prescribed number of hours gaining on-the-job experience and learning needed competencies over the enrollment year.

According to President & CEO Suzanne Sewell: “The DSP Apprenticeship experience will allow DSP enrollees to enhance their skills and will result in wage increases for those who demonstrate they have mastered the required competencies. We thank the Employers and Apprentices that have joined with us to launch this unique DSP Apprenticeship initiative and celebrate their efforts this week.” Participating member agencies include: Arc Broward, MacDonald Training Center, Pine Castle, MACtown, Sunrise Community, and The WOW Center. These agencies are moving the needle forward to assist providers in enhancing professionalization of the Direct Support Professional position within the ID service system. An added benefit is that the Apprenticeship initiative will assist provider agencies in meeting the hiring crisis provider agencies face.

For more information on the DSP Apprenticeship initiative, please contact Florida ARF Member Services Director Courtney Swilley at 850-942-3510.


Florida ARF & RESPECT of Florida Participate in Celebrating Exceptional Employers

Tallahassee, FL (October 11, 2019) Today, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Blind Services, and Vocational Rehabilitation recognized 12 businesses as Florida Exceptional Employers for hiring and retaining employees who have disabilities during the 14th Annual Exceptional Employer Awards celebration at the Tallahassee City Commission Chambers. These companies from across the state were recognized with plaques made by individuals with disabilities and donated by Florida ARF d/b/a RESPECT of Florida. The Association is proud to recognize companies that have a strong commitment to employing and retaining people with unique abilities during Disability Employment Awareness Month.


Florida ARF and the Florida Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (FADSP) Celebrate 2019 Direct Support Professional Week

Tallahassee, FL (September 8, 2019) This week, September 8-14, is the 2019 Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week.  As part of DSP Recognition Week, the Florida Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (FADSP) is recognizing DSPs who are making a meaningful difference in the lives of the people they serve.  Their stories clearly communicate the loving attitude and dedication of DSPs who give so freely of themselves to serve others.  DSPs are the backbone of long-term supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).  While FADSP recognized several DSPs that are making a difference across Florida, there are many deserving DSPs that should be recognized for the outstanding work they do each day to take care of our loved ones.  

Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a proclamation recognizing Direct Support Professional Recognition Week.  DeSantis stated “Florida’s direct support professionals play an important role in ensuring Floridians with unique abilities flourish in society, stay connected with their families, and achieve greater independence as they perform various tasks.  Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week in Florida is an opportunity to share our appreciation for the professionals who help individuals with unique abilities reach their full potential and lead healthy lives.”  We could not agree with Governor DeSantis more!

To all the DSPs across Florida, we offer a hearty “Thank you for all that you do!