Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Cabinet to Declare Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Governor to Recognize Gulf Coast Enterprises

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Attorney General Pam Bondi will introduce a resolution at the Florida Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, March 18, declaring the month of March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Florida.

Representatives from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Family Care Council, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, The Arc of Florida, and the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities will be there to accept the resolution.

Cheryl Govea, a parent of a child with developmental disabilities, will address Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on the importance of funding community services for people with disabilities.

In addition, Governor Scott will present his Business Ambassador Award to Gulf Coast Enterprises for the company’s longstanding commitment to employing hundreds of people with disabilities at military bases throughout the state.

The Cabinet meeting will begin at 8 a.m. in the Cabinet meeting room on the lower level of the Capitol Building.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities.  The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1‑866‑APD‑CARES (1‑866‑273‑2273).


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FSU Police Donate to Send Families on Vacation

TALLAHASSEE, FL—The Florida State University (FSU) Police Department will donate $2,000 to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) for Rish Park on Friday, February 28, at 11 a.m. FSU Police Chief David Perry will present the check to APD Director Barbara Palmer on FSU’s campus outside Doak Campbell Stadium next to the Unconquered statue. This is the second year the FSU Police Department has made this donation.

The money will be used to send four families to William J. (Billy Joe) Rish Recreational Park on Cape San Blas for a four day and three night vacation. The money will pay for gasoline to get to the park, food while at the park, and a disposable camera to capture the weekend. The families will be selected from individuals on the APD Medicaid waiver waiting list.

Rish Park, which originally opened in 1975, is the state’s only park specifically for people with disabilities and is operated by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). The park is located at 6773 Cape San Blas Road in Gulf County.

The park is named after former State Representative Billy Joe Rish who was instrumental in securing the land from the federal government in 1968 and designating it for use by people with disabilities. The park is open to visitors with disabilities and their families year round. If you would like to make a reservation, contact Sunland in Marianna at (850) 482-9386 or visit RishPark.org.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities.  The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1‑866‑APD‑CARES (1‑866‑273‑2273).

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Second Workshop on APD Waiting List

TALLAHASSEE, FLThe Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) will host another waiting list prioritization workshop on March 4 in Tallahassee to discuss individuals who are waiting to receive Home and Community-Based Services through the APD Medicaid waiver. The workshop will be held in the new Department of Revenue Southwood complex at 2450 Shumard Oak Boulevard, Building 1, Room 1820, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend. Free parking is available.

The participants will review the recommendations from an earlier workshop held February 18. APD Director Barbara Palmer hopes to end the meeting with consensus from participants that will be used to develop a plan for bringing those most in need of APD services off the waiting list and onto the APD waiver.

For the first time in eight years, Governor Rick Scott is recommending $36 million to serve people on the APD waiver waiting list as part of his Florida Families First budget. If the funding is approved by the Legislature, the agency wants to be able to enroll the new individuals on July 1 when the funding becomes available.

Those who are unable to attend may send their thoughts and suggestions on the waiting list to Deputy Director of Programs Denise Arnold, 4030 Esplanade Way, Suite 380, Tallahassee, FL 32399.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273).


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Workshop on APD Waiting list

TALLAHASSEE, FL — The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) will host a workshop on February 18 in Tallahassee to discuss the waiting list prioritization for individuals who are waiting to receive Home and Community-Based Services through the APD Medicaid waiver.

The meeting will take place at 1317 Winewood Boulevard, Building 4, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Free parking is available. APD Director Barbara Palmer will kick off the meeting and lead the discussion.

For the first time in eight years, Governor Rick Scott is recommending $36 million to serve people on the APD waiver waiting list as part of his Florida Families First budget. If the funding is approved by the Legislature, the agency wants to be able to enroll the new individuals on July 1 when the funding becomes available.

This workshop is to discuss and develop possible criteria to help the agency enroll those most in need of services with the money available. There will be input and suggestions on the prioritization of the seven waiting list categories as defined in the Florida Statute s. 393.065(5). Attendees will breakup into workgroups to develop recommendations for factors that should be considered. The public is encouraged to attend.

Those who are unable to attend may send their thoughts and suggestions on the waiting list to Deputy Director of Programs Denise Arnold, 4030 Esplanade Way, Suite 380, Tallahassee, FL 32399.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273).

 


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Governor’s Budget Would Fund APD Waiting List for First Time in Eight Years

Disability Stakeholders Praise Governor’s Budget

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Florida Governor Rick Scott is recommending additional funding to serve people on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list. Governor Scott’s proposed 2013-2014 budget, Florida Families First, includes $1.1 billion for APD. A $36 million increase will allow individuals on the waiting list to enroll in the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver so they will receive services in their local communities. Those with the most critical needs will benefit from this new funding. Leaders of organizations that serve people with disabilities unanimously praised the governor’s budget proposal.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am so excited about Governor Scott’s decision to fund the waiver waiting list for the first time since 2005. I appreciate Governor Scott’s leadership and confidence in APD. We also thank the members of the Legislature for their ongoing support. Families, waiver support coordinators, providers, and our employees have worked very hard to bring our waiver spending under control. The agency is ready to begin helping those with the most critical needs on the waiting list in the coming year.”

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Jean Sherman said, “I am delighted and encouraged to learn about Governor Scott’s proposed request to provide funding for waiver services for those individuals on the APD waiting list that are in the most critical need. The ability to receive needed services will be life-changing for these families and this new funding is a welcome first step in meeting the community needs of all Florida residents with developmental disabilities.”

Phil Pearson, waiting list parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida, said, “What a great day for Florida and what a great day for Florida’s disability community. Hats off to everyone involved! This waiting list funding will be a godsend to all of those folks waiting for services. They will now be able to rest assured that their children will be properly taken care of. Granted, this won’t fund every situation, but it is a good start, addressing the most urgent cases. Thank you, Governor Scott, for this great day in Florida’s history.”

Janice Phillips is a service coordinator for people with developmental disabilities, and she is also the chairperson of their association. Phillips said, “The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida would like to thank Governor Scott for his continuing support of people with developmental disabilities. His recent decision to include funding in his budget to provide services for those on the waiting list demonstrates his commitment to Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. We are excited about the possibility of helping individuals with support needed to work and live productively in their communities.”

Governor Scott’s budget proposal also includes about $2.5 million to assist people on the waiver waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work. The funding will pay for job internships and supported employment job coaches for about 1,000 people with developmental disabilities.

“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 Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Executive Director Suzanne Sewell.

The ARC of Florida Executive Director Deborah Linton said, “These additional funds will allow our chapters to protect the health and safety of more Floridians with intellectual disabilities and in many cases, fulfill their dreams of securing jobs and contributing to their community. It will benefit the individual and the economy.”

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Debra Dowds said, “I am thrilled that Governor Scott is working to provide funding for people on the waiting list. Individuals with developmental disabilities need ongoing supports to be fully integrated into their local communities. This money is critical to helping people with crucial needs. The funding specifically for supported employment and job internships will enable many individuals with developmental disabilities to earn wages in competitive integrated employment, moving them to greater self-sufficiency.”

Governor Scott is recommending in his budget proposal a one-time appropriation of $40 million ($17 million in state funding, $23 million federal match) to pay off the waiver deficit from prior fiscal years. With this funding, APD is projecting to be operating within its appropriation for the first time since being made its own agency.

Additionally, the budget proposal contains about $2 million for facility maintenance which will include improvements to William J. Rish Park on Cape San Blas in Gulf County. Rish Park is a state park that was built and designed for people with disabilities. The facilities on the bay side of the park were damaged many years ago by a hurricane and have been unusable by people with disabilities.

Governor Scott is recommending $1.4 million for a new APD data system that will provide service-specific information from providers regarding service delivery dates and progress, as well as better verification that services were delivered at the times and locations that were authorized by the agency. Additionally, this data system will include an electronic client central record that will provide the agency with information that can be used to more efficiently and effectively serve individuals with developmental disabilities by providing electronic information that will track provider services and progress for the client.

To view the complete list of Governor Scott’s budget recommendations, visit http://www.floridafamiliesfirst.com.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1 866 APD CARES (1 866 273 2273).


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Child-serving Agencies Partner to Raise Awareness about Human Trafficking

DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters announces expansion of Victim Identification Pilot Project

Tallahassee – Today, Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) held a joint press conference to raise awareness about human trafficking and educate the public about the state’s efforts to end the practice in Florida.

Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that affects more than 27 million people worldwide, including an estimated two million children who are trafficked for child labor and sexual exploitation. In the United States, the Polaris Project estimates approximately 100,000 kids are trapped in the commercial sex trade right now.

“Florida is a leading the way for the rest of the nation with its comprehensive, collaborative, cross-agency approach to protecting our state’s children from the emotional, physical and psychological harm human trafficking causes,” said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters, chair of the Human Trafficking Workgroup of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet.

For the second consecutive year, Gov. Rick Scott signed a proclamation designating January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Florida. This year, 13 local governments followed his lead by signing proclamations for their communities. To view the full list, click here.

“The Department of Children and Families has investigated more than 1,000 cases of alleged human trafficking involving children in this state,” said Secretary David Wilkins. “We are so proud to join in this effort to fight this terrible crime and rescue these young victims who are being sexually abused, exploited and traumatized. We can only hope that together, we can make a difference in their lives and stop other children from being victimized this way.”

During the press conference, DJJ Secretary Walters announced that DJJ is expanding its Victim Identification Pilot Project to Orange County. This unparalleled pilot trains staff at DJJ’s Juvenile Assessment Centers (JACs) to use a research-based, trauma-informed assessment tool to identify victims as soon as they enter the facility. The pilot began in Broward County last August, extended to Miami-Dade County in October, and will launch in Orange County at the end of this month. Once victims are identified, DJJ staff reports them to the Florida Abuse Hotline and an alert is entered into DJJ’s data system to track the child and ensure they receive appropriate services.

“Florida is the first state in the nation to attempt to identify victims immediately upon arrest,” DJJ Secretary Walters added. “We are particularly proud of this project because it not only saves children from the cruel individuals subjecting them to trafficking, but it also enables us to connect victims with state resources they need to recover from the trauma they experienced and move forward.”

Walters added, “The data we collect will help us better understand the scope of the problem, how many of these survivors we serve, and how we can best meet their needs.”

The pilot project complements two laws passed during the 2012 Legislative Session that seek to assist human trafficking victims. With the start of 2013, sexually exploited children received new hope as the state’s Safe Harbor Act became effective. The Safe Harbor Act helps ensure the safety of child victims who have been trafficked for sex by allowing them to get help from child welfare professionals instead of being placed in juvenile delinquency. This enables DCF, DJJ, law enforcement and local partners across the state to treat and help the victims of this abuse recover from the traumatic experiences they have faced so they can be successfully shepherded into adulthood.

“I am very proud to have sponsored and advocated for the Florida Safe Harbor Act. This important legislation allows law enforcement to recognize vulnerable individuals as victims instead of criminals, and gives us the ability to offer them refuge and support,” said Senator Anitere Flores. “I applaud Kristi House in Miami for their efforts in working with the Department of Children and Families to lead the way in identifying and treating victims of this horrendous crime.”

A separate law, House Bill 7049, went into effect last July and gives prosecutors the ability to better fight this terrible crime by imposing tougher penalties. Together, the laws have made Florida a national leader in fighting human trafficking and rescuing victims.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world today, and matches arms smuggling as the second largest international criminal industry.

“The situation in Florida is particularly dire because predators view our state as one of the most attractive destinations and transit points for their victims,” said Deborah Polston, Volunteer Advocate for Human Trafficking. “Thankfully, our state’s leaders and the Florida Legislature have recognized the need to further protect Florida’s youth. I am proud to be a part of the team dedicated to combating human trafficking in the state of Florida.”
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities is also incorporating numerous human trafficking indicators into its Zero Tolerance training program to help the professionals serving people with developmental disabilities identify and appropriately respond to the victims they may encounter. This is part of APD’s efforts to educate staff members and service providers throughout the state about human trafficking and its grave effect on U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and the extremely vulnerable clients served by the agency.

“APD is committed to heightening awareness of all the potential threats that its clients face on a day-to-day basis,” said APD Director Barbara Palmer. “We understand that the issues surrounding human trafficking evolve continually, so the agency will be vigilant in its efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of Floridians with developmental disabilities.”

The Zero Tolerance curriculum guides APD’s providers in identifying cases of abuse and neglect, including sexual exploitation. In addition to requiring this training for APD employees and service providers, the agency has partnered with the Department of Children and Families’ Adult Protective Services Program that tracks and investigates reports of abuse and neglect. APD staff members throughout the state review these reports in an effort to strengthen abuse prevention strategies. The integration of human trafficking indicators will add this crucial factor to the report review process.

If you are aware of any child or adult in an unsafe situation, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873.

HumanTrafficking

(Left to right: Deborah Polston, David Wilkins, Barbara Palmer, Wansley Walters and Zackary Gibson, director and chief child advocate of the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection.)


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APD Customer Thinks iBudget is Good for People with Disabilities

 
Although most people do not have a cost plan reduction with iBudget, Michael Maloney of Tallahassee willingly took a reduction. Maloney has cerebral palsy and requires constant care to live in his own home. He took reductions in two services. Maloney said, “I am willing to help out wherever I can. The reason I gave up money was to assist other people on the waiver and on the waiting list. I believe in self-determination. I want other people to be able to make choices about their lives. We are all disabled. It does not matter what you have. We need to work together rather than against each other.” 

Maloney feels that all individuals with disabilities should come together to help each other achieve their goals. He thinks iBudget will provide the flexibility and self-direction for each person to make the best choices for themselves.

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