Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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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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The Governor’s Corner by Governor Rick Scott

Governor Rick Scott

Photo Credit Meredyth Hope Hall

We recently reached a great victory when the It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget was signed into law.  With the support of Florida’s public servants, our state has experienced incredible growth during the past three years. Our unemployment rate is down to 6.2 percent and Florida’s private sector has created more than 600,400 jobs since December 2010. Floridians all across the state are finding more opportunities to work and provide for their families. The investments in this budget will help Florida maintain our positive economic momentum as our state continues to add jobs and opportunities for families.

Some of the highlights in this year’s budget include investments in job growth, cancer research, Florida’s children and seniors, individuals with disabilities, state infrastructure, veterans and their families, our state’s  natural treasures, and historic funding for K-12 education, state colleges, and universities. This Budget’s investments in Florida’s future will help our great state continue on a path towards prosperity and opportunity for generations to come.


This story and more in the June issue of The Champion

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APD Presentation Schedule for Family Café

Family Cafe kicks off at the Orlando Hilton on June 6, and we hope that you and your family is able to attend.  The Agency for Persons with Disabilities will be conducting several presentations on June 6 and 7.  We also hope you will stop by our booth in the exhibit hall.  See APD’s presentation schedule below:


Friday, June 6

1:30-2:30 p.m. - Aging in Place and Your Home, JR Harding (APD), Larry Baster (Elder Affairs)

1:30-2:30 p.m. - Quality Services – What should you Know About Your Service Provider?, Denise Arnold, Edwin DeBardeleben

1:30-2:30 p.m. - Human Trafficking, Meghan Murray

3-4 p.m.The Silent Epidemic: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Persons with Developmental Disabilities, Tom Rice

3-4 p.m. - APD’s Billy Joe Rish Park – A Park for People with Disabilities, JR Harding

4:30-5:30 p.m.Increasing Successful Employment Outcomes, Nancy Butout

4:30-5:30 p.m. - Achieving YOUR Goals – Perseverance, Determination, and a Little Help from iBudget Florida, Denise Arnold (APD), Robyn Stawski (Self-Advocate)

4:30-5:30 p.m. - Traveling by Air as a Person with a Disability, JR Harding (APD), Delta Airlines


Saturday, June 7

11 a.m. – noon - Meet APD Director Barbara Palmer, Director Barbara Palmer

1-2 p.m. - What is Consumer Directed Care Plus Program (CDC+)?, (Spanish) Ivonne Gonzalez

2:30-3:30 p.m. - What is Consumer Directed Care Plus Program (CDC+)?, (English) Ivonne Gonzalez, Susan Nipper

4-5 p.m. - Airport Backstage Pass, JR Harding (APD), Delta Airlines+


For more information on Family Cafe, please visit their website at http://www.familycafe.net/

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Governor Scott: It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget Invests in Priorities for Persons with Disabilities and Vulnerable Populations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today highlighted investments in the It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget directed to support individuals with disabilities.

Governor Scott said, “We’re committed to providing every Florida family the opportunity to live the American Dream – and this Budget invests another $20 million to move more than 1,000 individuals off the APD waitlist. 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.”

The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget supports Governor Scott’s commitment to make investments in Florida’s most vulnerable communities.

Brings Individuals with Critical Needs Off Agency for Persons with Disabilities Waitlist: The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget funding of the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver waiting list will bring all remaining individuals with critical needs off of the waiting list – a first in the history of the program. The Budget provides $20 million to bring more than 1,000 individuals off of the waiting list for the second year in a row and provides them with home and community-based services to help them live, learn, and work in their communities.

Supported Employment: The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget invests a total of $2.5 million toward job placement and training for individuals with developmental disabilities who are looking for employment and internship opportunities. With this increased funding, more young adults with developmental disabilities will have firsthand opportunities to demonstrate their skills in the workplace. Maximizing firsthand experiences in the workplace was one of three primary recommendations of the 2012 report by the Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities.

William J. (Billy Joe) Rish Recreational Park: The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget provides $1 million to provide maintenance and repairs at Billy Joe Rish Park, located on the St. Joseph Peninsula near Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas in Northwest Florida. Rish Park is open year round for people with disabilities and their family members, guardians, and caregivers. Personal Needs Allowance: The Budget supports $539,000 to increase the personal needs allowance from $35 to $105 per month for individuals living in Intermediate Care Facilities run by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Early Intervention Services for Autism: The Budget supports $1.4 million toward early screening and intervention services for children with autism spectrum disorder in underserved families. These services will provide relief to families by teaching critical skills, reducing problem behavior, and improving IQ and adaptive and social skills in their children. Funds will also be used to train future physicians, psychologists, and behavioral therapists who will be crucial in expanding access to these important services in the future.

MACTown Fitness and Wellness: The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget continues efforts to identify new and different ideas for helping individuals with developmental disabilities achieve their maximum potential in living healthy and productive lives. The Budget supports $175,000 for MACTown Fitness and Wellness Center in Miami-Dade for a personalized, safe, and closely monitored environment. Individuals can pursue their fitness goals through education, hands-on experience, and a consistent schedule of exercising on professional and specialized equipment and aerobics classes. The healthier the individual, the better they are able to maximize their independent living skills.

The Arc of Florida Dental Services: The Budget supports much-needed dental services for individuals with developmental disabilities through another $2 million provided to The Arc of Florida. Funds will be used to enroll new providers and continue statewide coordinated dental services, which will improve the health and self-confidence of the people served.

Rate Increase for Adult Day Training Providers: The Budget supports $1.3 million for a two percent across-the-board raise to all providers of adult day training services in the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waiver program. These services are among the most popular in the program. Providers offer individuals up to six hours per day of meaningful activities that support the individual in daily routines of the community, including training in the areas of self-help, adaptive, and social skills. These services are provided in congregate, facility-based settings, and may include off-site enclaves or mobile work crews.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am thrilled the Legislature supported Governor Scott’s recommendation to fund the waiver waiting list for a second consecutive year. With this new money, we will now be able to serve the remaining individuals with critical needs on the waiting list. This is a major milestone for APD. I appreciate Governor Scott and the Legislature’s ongoing support of APD and assistance in helping us achieve this important goal.”

Pat Young, president of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said, “We are grateful to Governor Scott and the Legislature for moving individuals off of the Medicaid Waiver Waitlist and continuing to fund this important dental program. Many Floridians with developmental disabilities have suffered from dental pain for more than a decade. They will now be pain-free.”

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Executive Director Suzanne Sewell said, “The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) thanks Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for responding to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities by appropriating an additional $20 million to serve individuals and families who have been waiting for years to receive essential services. Because of this budget, more than 1,000 individuals will be served during next fiscal year.

Additionally, another $500,000 was approved to assist individuals with disabilities with achieving of their career goals. Our member agencies are thrilled that so many individuals will be receiving the supports they need to maintain their independence and enhance their quality of life,”

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Debra Dowds said, “We are very appreciative of Governor Rick Scott for his continued support to address the needs of Floridians with developmental disabilities. Through this additional funding many more people with developmental disabilities on the waiting list will be offered waiver enrollment and receive the services they need to be employed, independent, and to meaningfully participate in their communities.”

Sherry Wheelock, Special Olympics Florida President and CEO said, “This funding is critical to the health and emotional well-being of people with developmental disabilities in Florida allowing them to be contributing and respected members of society.”

Betty Kay Clements, parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida said, “I want to express a sincere thank you to Governor Scott and Florida legislators for continuing to address the APD waiting list by budgeting $20 million for next year. These dollars will ensure that additional individuals will enroll in the APD HCBS waiver and receive the quality services and supports they need. The $500,000 for employment services also increases the number of individuals who will realize their goal of working in their community alongside their neighbors, and reaching their potential. The money for Rish Park will allow APD to upgrade this unique park and assist people with disabilities to enjoy a full range of accessible recreational adventures among nature and a beautiful Florida coastline.”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida chairperson Janice Phillips said, “The association is heartened by the efforts of Governor Scott and the 2014 Legislature to improve the lives of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. For the second year in a row, additional funding is allocated to provide needed assistance to individuals on the waiver waiting list. This also provides assurance and encouragement to other families remaining on the list that help is on the way. We also applaud the governor and Legislature for providing funding for supported employment to people with developmental disabilities. This will enable individuals to become more productive citizens of Florida by enhancing their lives with meaningful employment and added inclusion and engagement in their communities. The funding for improvements to Rish Park—an extraordinary facility designed as a completely wheelchair-accessible getaway for people with disabilities—will provide many hours of enjoyment to this population for generations to come. The inclusion of these items in the 2014-15 state budget is very exciting for all of us who serve this very special group of Floridians.”

Area 2 Family Care Council Chairperson Lou Ogburn said, “We are pleased that money has been put in the budget to further reduce the folks who are on the waiting list, to provide dollars to help with employment efforts, and to improve Rish Park. It is critical that our state continue to work on eliminating the waiting list for those needing services. The dollars for employment efforts will help by allowing some people to work and thereby reducing the amount needed from the waiver while keeping them living in the least restrictive environment.”


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