Florida ARF, FDDC, and APD Partner to Award Denise Arnold Self-Advocacy Memorial Scholarship

Tallahassee, FL (June 30, 2021) The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities have formed a partnership to award the Denise Arnold Self-Advocacy Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship was developed to memorialize the contributions Denise made in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities over a 31-year career in the field. Denise Arnold spent her career making sure self-advocates and their families felt empowered and engaged. Her strong advocacy and compassion for all individuals will be reflected in the issuance of the Denise Arnold Self-Advocacy Memorial Scholarship. Through this scholarship, we are seeking to cultivate innovative employment solutions for Floridians with developmental disabilities. We recognize that not all individuals with disabilities seek a traditional job. Some individuals would like the freedom and independence to be their own boss and run their own business, but starting a business can be an expensive and arduous process. Initial funding for a business idea can bridge the gap between a dream and reality. With a funding award of $9,590, the Denise Arnold Self-Advocacy Memorial Scholarship will offer a Micro-Enterprise grant for self-employment to a deserving entrepreneur with disabilities. Member Services Director Courtney Swilley stated “Denise was a tireless advocate for individuals with disabilities and Florida ARF is honored to be a part of this partnership to remember Denise and her contributions to the individuals served by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.”


Florida ARF Joins Family Care Council Florida to Serve on Legislative Panel

Tallahassee, FL (May 8, 2021) President & CEO Tyler Sununu and Member Services Director Courtney Swilley participated in a virtual panel discussion with representatives from The Arc of Florida, Disability Rights Florida, and the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council to discuss the outcomes from the 2021 Legislative Session with the Family Care Council of Florida. Panelists discussed the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget, SB 192/HB 149 – Students with Disabilities in Public Schools (Restraint & Seclusion), SB 1010/HB 681 – Supported Decision-making, SB 184/HB 79 – Purple Alert, HB 173/SB 726 – Individual Education Plan Requirements for Students with Disabilities, and SB 1686/HB 269 – Definition of Developmental Disability. Council members asked inciteful questions of panelists from their observations of the Session and the outlook moving forward. It was a pleasure to be part of this conversation with our Stakeholder partners and families across the state making an impact on the lives of Floridians with intellectual disabilities.


Florida ARF & RESPECT of Florida Recognize Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month

Tallahassee, FL (April 1, 2021) April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month. This month, Florida ARF and RESPECT of Florida are focusing on ways we can build opportunities, promote change, and empower individuals with autism. While we always work to educate others about autism, the need for acceptance is greater than ever, as we strive for individuals with autism to live fully in all areas of life. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the prevalence of autism in the United States has risen from 1 in 125 children in 2010 to 1 in 54 in 2020 and 1 in 45 adults in our community. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, recognizing this continued increase, the goal for this month is to further increase awareness about autism signs, symptoms, and opportunities. Together, we can make a better world for those with Autism! 


Florida ARF Promotes Awareness During Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Tallahassee, FL (March 1, 2021) March is Developmental Disabilities (DD) Awareness Month and is a time when Florida ARF and its members seek to enhance awareness about the inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in all aspects of community life. The history of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month began in 1987 with a proclamation made by President Ronald Reagan declaring March as a month dedicated to raising awareness and “according to our fellow citizens with such disabilities both encouragement and the opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.” It signaled the beginning of social changes in America and was only further cemented by the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. Each March presents an opportunity to spark a national conversation to address the forward progress of individuals with disabilities. As a community, we strive to work together to assemble an array of services and supports that empower people with disabilities to live increasingly fulfilling and independent lives. We encourage you to join in the conversation and share the needs of individuals with disabilities especially as we have important issues that need legislative support to increase direct care wages to continue to provide an array of community supports and services. Our advocacy and education during DD Awareness Month is key to ensure the futures of Floridians with disabilities!