Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Family Care Council Wins Award

On July 23, The Family Care Council Suncoast Region was honored with the Tom Ulvenes Outstanding Community Service Award at the Annual ADA Disability EXPO Advocacy Awards Ceremony and Community Forum. The event was hosted by the Alliance for Citizens with Disabilities Hillsborough County.

The award is given for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the Hillsborough County community through courageous advocacy, education, and diligent persistence in pursuing goals which improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

“This was a great honor for all Family Care Council Members, this award will reside in the Regional APD Office in Tampa for all of us. It means a lot for the entire Suncoast Region Family Care Council to be recognized,” said Family Care Council Florida Chair Pauline Lipps.

Family Care Council members Nancy Simmons, Patricia Oglesby, Ann Graybeal, Joanna Rydzewski, Kathy Colombrito, and Peter Ciccarello also attended the event.

 

Check out this story and more – in The Champion newsletter!


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An Amazing Bank Teller by James Vidrine

Rachel Doeble is a determined young woman who pursues her personal and career goals, and achieves them. Her career in the banking industry began in 2004, and she has been working full-time since June 2011 at Regions Bank in North Naples.

Doeble receives services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) in Naples.

She is married to her husband, John, and with his three children from a previous marriage, plus her young daughter, they created a large family with four children. She truly has full days.

Things have not always been this bright for Doeble. She entered this world as a three month premature infant. At her birth, she tipped the scale at less than three pounds. She spent the first six weeks of her life in the hospital, gaining weight and increasing her strength, so she could go home.

Doeble’s parents, however, soon noticed problems with her development. In her 15th month, her pediatrician broke the difficult news to her parents. Her delayed development was due to cerebral palsy. This news, although a shock, did not deter them whatsoever. Her parents worked with her at home to master the developmental skills that other toddlers and preschool children seemed to achieve without effort.

When Doeble entered kindergarten, the work she and her parents had engaged in for years paid off handsomely. Rachel was able to walk independently, with some difficulty at times, but without the need for a wheelchair. She was described by others at school, as a very friendly and a likeable youngster, with excellent cognitive and vocabulary skills. Her teachers also noted she could be stubborn at times.

Perhaps it was her stubbornness that contributed to her ongoing ability to engage the world with a positive attitude and determination to succeed. Doeble recalls, “As a child I had difficulty maneuvering around in school. I had to learn how to ask for help when I needed it, but also how to decline offers for assistance that I did not need or want.”

Doeble’s positive and caring attitude and her determination to succeed have not gone unnoticed by her supervisors at Regions Bank. Her direct supervisor, Head Teller Kathy Wessling describes Rachel’s work as amazing and fabulous. She depends on Rachel as her right hand at work. Wessling said, “Rachel is a very inspiring person. For someone that has a disability, she does not hold back on what she needs to do or what she wants to do. She has no fear.” Bank Manager Todd Ruggeri adds, “Rachel has the best outlook on life. She never gets upset or discouraged.”

APD Human Services Counselor Jose Delvalle is Doeble’s Support Coordinator. Delvalle said, “When I first met Rachel, I saw a person who wants to achieve her goals. She is a capable and an independent person who can handle any situation with thoughtfulness.”

Doeble is a living a success story. Not only does she work full-time as a bank teller, but she is also a wife, mother, step-mother, and provides a loving home for her family. Doeble wants to encourage others that have a disability to be persistent and persevere through difficulties and roadblocks, to reach their dreams. Doeble said, “Don’t let negative thoughts get in your way. Play to your own strengths and this will assist you. Never be afraid to ask for help, especially at your workplace.”


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People First! Advocate Award

The Ridge Area Arc’s People First! Advocate Award honors an individual, group or organization which consistently demonstrate a leadership role in the advocacy of people with developmental disabilities. Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) Employment Liaison Jenny Sykes was presented with the Advocate Award on May 16 in Avon Park. Ridge Area Arc CEO Rhonda Beckman said “She is an exemplary advocate for APD customers throughout Hardee, Highlands, and Polk counties.”

Sykes coordinates multiple activities of agencies, service organizations, businesses, and providers to champion, educate, and promote hiring practices that target individuals with developmental disabilities. She works very closely with Ridge Area Arc’s supported employment staff to identify barriers and various misconceptions that employers may have about hiring individuals with disabilities.

Sykes also works to facilitate open lines of communication with family members and other natural supports of APD customers so they understand the Social Security Work Incentives and benefits are still retained. It goes without saying that her tenacity has paid off. She has provided the foundation to cultivate new business partnerships, develop community awareness, and helped employers understand the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.

Jenny Sykes wins award

Jenny Sykes wins award

Jenny Sykes is recognized by the Arc

Jenny Sykes is recognized by the Arc


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APD Reviewing iBudget Decision

TALLAHASSEE —The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is reviewing the decision this week by the First District Court of Appeal (DCA) which found that the rules used in implementing the iBudget Florida waiver are invalid, thus overturning an earlier decision by the Division of Administrative Hearings.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “Our goal is always to protect the health and safety of the individuals we serve. We are evaluating the effects, if any, on APD customers and the financial impact of this decision. We hope to minimize any changes this ruling will require for people served by APD.”

The DCA decision states that all APD customers should receive their iBudget algorithm amount as their cost plan amount. Therefore, APD will need to go through the rulemaking process again to comply with the court’s decision.

About 30,000 APD customers use the iBudget Florida Medicaid waiver to direct and receive Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS). The HCBS waiver is funded by state and federal tax dollars to help people with developmental disabilities live and participate in their local communities.

iBudget Florida is a new way to deliver Medicaid waiver services. It has been approved by both the Florida Legislature and the federal government. The iBudget waiver provides greater flexibility to choose services that best meet the customers’ needs given their unique situations.

iBudget Florida is designed to make the funding process fair and equitable for all Medicaid waiver customers. It has increased opportunities for customers to direct their own care.

Some other customer benefits of iBudget Florida are:

  • Ability to reallocate funds not spent on services in one month for future service needs within a fiscal year
  • Access to dental services that were not available in the former tier waiver
  • Support coordinators able to use iBudget technology to reduce paperwork requirements and communicate efficiently with providers and APD, and
  • Greater opportunity for APD to use new funds to serve people on the Medicaid waiver waiting list.

APD annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with the developmental disabilities of autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information on iBudget Florida, visit iBudgetFlorida.org. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES  (1-866-273-2273) or visit APDcares.org.


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Governor Scott Announces Elimination of Critical Needs Waitlist for Persons with Disabilities

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced all individuals with critical needs who have been on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiting list as of July 1 will be offered enrollment in the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver. Approximately 1,200 individuals will receive enrollment letters from APD in the next two weeks.

 

Governor Scott said, “We’re committed to providing every Florida family the opportunity to live the American Dream – and this year’s It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget invested another $20 million to move all remaining individuals with critical needs off of the waiting list, which is the first time this has happened in the history of the agency. This is the second year in a row we’ve been able to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.”

 

These individuals join about 1,600 people who were offered waiver services last fiscal year. Additionally, the agency will continue to enroll foster children with developmental disabilities into the waiver that are adopted or reunified with family members.

 

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am so happy the agency is able to keep moving people off the waiting list so they may receive waiver services in their communities. I thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for this important funding for the waiting list and their support of our agency. We are making a difference in people’s lives.”

 

After individuals accept the HCBS Medicaid waiver enrollment, they must select a waiver support coordinator who will work with them to develop a plan to address needed services. APD customers also select which waiver providers they want to deliver their services.


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Update on iBudget Handbook

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) have reviewed and revised the iBudget handbook over the past several weeks based on public input.

The handbook is in final rule drafting with a public workshop anticipated to be noticed for mid-August.

After the rule workshop, AHCA and APD will meet to discuss all comments received, and then will proceed promptly to move to final rule promulgation which will include a public hearing.


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National Fireworks Safety Month

It’s July; time for BBQs, ice cream, family vacations, and fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Satefy Commission, there were about 9,600 fireworks related injuries during the Fourth of July holiday in 2011.  Help your family and friends avoid the potential dangers of fireworks by following these common sense guidelines:

  • Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.
  • Use fireworks as directed on consumer product safety label; never alter products.
  • Observe local laws and use good common sense.
  • Have a designated shooter to organize and shoot your family show.
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities.
  • Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • NEVER carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  • Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

 

For more information on fireworks safety and to view a safety video, please visit http://fireworkssafety.org/.


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Increases for ADT and Group Home Providers

Some Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) customers and providers will see a financial increase beginning July 1.  APD group home providers will receive a $40 per person increase for room and board. Also, APD customers will receive a $40 increase in their Personal Needs Allowance if living in an APD-licensed homes. The rates were last increased in 2008.

Adult day training providers will receive about a two percent increase in their rates for serving APD customers starting July 1. This increase was approved by the Legislature in May. For additional information regarding the rate increases, contact your APD Regional Office.

 

To view more stories from the July issue of The Champion visit us online at: http://apdcares.org/champion/


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Safety Month; Slips, Trips and Falls

Admit it; we’ve all done it.  We’ve all had slips, trips, and falls that resulted in hilarious stories for friends.  Unfortunately, those same incidents can also result in serious injury.  The risk of falling, and fall related injuries, increases with age.

Take a moment to evaluate your home and reduce as many hazards as possible.  Using the following tips you can potentially prevent falls and injuries this summer:

  • Secure electrical and phone cords out of traffic areas
  • Remove small throw rugs or use non-skid mats to keep them from slipping
  • Remove tripping hazards (paper, boxes, toys, clothes, shoes) from stairs and walkways
  • Periodically check the condition of walkways and steps, and repair damages immediately
  • Never stand on a chair, table, or other surface on wheels
  • Clean up all spills immediately

For more information and tips, please visit: http://www.nsc.org/


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Grandparents May Now Join Family Care Councils — Stakeholders Applaud Addition

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed legislation that expands the membership of Family Care Councils (FCC) to now include grandparents. There are 15 FCCs around the state that advise the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). FCCs are made up of self-advocates, parents, siblings, guardians, and now grandparents who are appointed by Governor Scott. Governor Scott has appointed or reappointed 99 Family Care Council members since taking office.

APD relies on the FCCs to share information and support all families throughout the state. The membership works each and every day to collaborate on issues and encourage independence for agency customers.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I thank our FCC bill sponsors, Senator Nancy Detert and Representative Jose Felix Diaz, who supported this measure and made sure it was passed during the Legislative session. I also want to thank Governor Scott for his continued support of our FCCs. Our Family Care Councils are vital to APD. They share with us their concerns and issues that affect our customers in their local communities.”

Senator Nancy Detert said, “I was happy to sponsor the FCC bill, and am very pleased my fellow senators agreed to support it. I believe grandparents are an integral part of families, and should have a role in helping to advise APD on issues affecting loved ones with developmental disabilities. Now that Governor Scott has signed the measure into law, I hope many grandparents volunteer to serve on the 15 FCCs all over the state and begin sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience to benefit our citizens with developmental disabilities.”

Representative Jose Felix Diaz said, “It was a great pleasure to work with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities on this good bill that will allow grandparents to become more involved in advocating for individuals with developmental disabilities through their membership on Family Care Councils. I consider it a priority of mine to work towards the well-being of these vulnerable individuals and I am humbled to have been a part of this effort.”

Family Care Council (FCC) Florida incoming Chairperson Pauline Lipps said, “I thank Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for supporting the expansion of membership for the Family Care Councils to now include grandparents. The FCCs have an important role in advising APD and advocating for families. Grandparents have a vital role in families and we are very appreciative of them being allowed to join the FCC’s in the future.”

“Grandparents are an important part of the fabric of the developmental disabilities community,” said Deborah Linton, chief executive officer of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “We are pleased to see them included in the Family Care Council.”

“The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) thanks Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for recognizing the important role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren and that these grandparents can now be actively involved in influencing and shaping the Agency for Persons with Disabilities’ policies and resources that are dedicated to serving their grandchildren. The new legislation is a win-win for all involved and will bring wisdom and experience to the table for Florida’s Family Care Councils,” said Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Executive Director Suzanne Sewell.

“The Association of Support Coordinators is very pleased that Governor Scott and the Legislature have broadened the scope of Family Care Councils to include grandparents. It’s crucial that individuals with disabilities receive the full benefit of interaction presented by an extended family. With more Floridians living longer and more active lifestyles than ever before, and many already functioning as primary caregivers, our grandparents present an active and vital natural source of support. The voice of these grandparents can now be heard through the Family Care Councils,” said the Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida Chairperson Janice Phillips.

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