Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in Florida

If you’ve recently become disabled, you may find certain things difficult to do, such as daily living activities, working, and financially supporting yourself. Luckily, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has financial resources available for those who are unable to work.

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for adults with a strong work history. You need to have worked a job that paid Social Security (FICA) taxes, generally for the five of the last ten years, although the amount of work you’ll need will depend on the age at which you apply for benefits.

The SSA figures out your monthly disability payment by averaging your past annual incomes. Approval for your claim can take up to two years depending on if you are approved immediately, so you may be eligible for a lump-sum payment known as back pay for the missed months. Two years after your first check, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A. Parts B, C, and D are available at additional monthly premiums.

Supplementary Disability Insurance (SSI) isn’t funded by Social Security taxes, so it’s the option available for children or adults who haven’t worked. SSI is awarded based on financial need. An individual is limited to $733 in monthly income and $2,000 in assets, and a couple is limited to $1,100 monthly income and $3,000 in assets. Examples of assets include cash, stocks, and life insurance policies. Once you are approved for SSI, you will automatically be approved for Medicaid in Florida.

Florida has an additional benefit for SSI recipients called SUNCAP. SUNCAP is a food stamp program that most SSI recipients are automatically enrolled in after disability approval. SUNCAP benefits can be spent on most household grocery items, aside from non-food items such as soap or pet food, or specialty items such as hot food.

Medical Requirements

The SSA has a listing of impairments that are eligible for disability benefits called the Blue Book. In order to be approved for disability, you typically need to meet or equal a listing in the Blue Book.

Some disabilities are clearly severe and will be approved for benefits quicker. These include terminal stages of cancer, or an ALS diagnosis. Because of some applicants’ obvious need for financial assistance, the SSA created an additional Compassionate Allowances List (CAL) with severe disabilities that will be approved for benefits much faster than the typical application.

If you don’t meet a listing, you can still apply for disability benefits. The SSA will look at the limitations your disability causes you in work-related and daily living activities such as your ability to stand, sit, or walk.

Completing the Application

The application process can be long and complicated, because there are many forms that need to be filled out and many supporting documents needed. The main reason for denials of initial claims is because the application wasn’t filled out correctly or there wasn’t enough medical evidence included.

You’ll need personal documents, such as a birth certificate and tax information, as well as a lot of medical evidence, depending on what your condition is. If you have medical evidence that clearly shows you meet a listing in the SSA’s Blue Book, you may not need a wealth of medical documents. But if you are applying without meeting a Blue Book listing, you need to prove to the SSA that your condition meets their listings and makes you unable to work any job.

Where to Apply

You can apply for benefits on the SSA’s website or you can call them at1- 800-772-1213 to set up an appointment at your local office or over the phone. You can start SSI applications online, but you must finish them at your local SSA office. There are over 50 offices in Florida. The SSA has a handy Office Locator tool which finds the office nearest you.


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Northeast Region Starts New Fiscal Year with Celebrations

By Leslie Richards, Northeast Region Manager

Record Funding

GovScottatPineCastle.jpg – Governor Scott visit Pine Castle in Jacksonville.

Governor Scott visits Pine Castle in Jacksonville.

We have so much to be thankful and grateful for this fiscal year that began with Governor Rick Scott’s visit to Pine Castle in Jacksonville with the help of Executive Director Jon May, and Family Care Council Co-Chairs Mary Smith and Karen Prewitt. Governor Scott ceremonially signed the Florida Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which establishes a trust fund for certain people with disabilities to use for important services such as education, housing, and transportation. Governor Scott also celebrated a record investment of $1.2 billion for the elimination of the APD critical needs waiting list in his “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget.

I know the families served in the Northeast region are very energized by the support of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature as demonstrated in the 2015-2016 budget. Many more individuals in need will receive community services with this additional money. We appreciate the continued backing of the Governor and the Legislature to ensure that people receive the services they require.

ADA 25th Anniversary Celebrations

ADA Proclamation 2015

Last month’s Northeast region’s ADA events were a success with Community Affairs Liaison Belinda Hoyt taking the lead and Employment Specialist Helen “Renee” Cooke and Community Affairs and Wait List Stream Lead Sylvia Bamburg rounding out the team.  It was impressive to watch this team and partners put together these detail-oriented events, ensuring everyone was included.

The ADA celebrations were held in Daytona Beach and Gainesville. The July 22 Daytona Beach event was well attended with several hundred people joining in the festivities. There were speeches by state and local elected officials, people with disabilities, and business people, along with a march from the Volusia County Courthouse Annex to Jackie Robinson Ballpark for ADA Night that featured a game between the Daytona Tortugas and the Charlotte Stone Crabs. The Daytona Tortugas won 5 – 2.

The next day Gainesville celebrated the ADA anniversary with the Alachua County Senior Recreation Center hosting an ADA Expo. The Expo highlighted many community resources and personal stories. Participants were also treated to lunch.

Hoyt said, “These events continue to show how important the ADA is and how people, regardless of disability or not, benefit. Think about how we all enjoy curb cuts, text messaging, and automatic doors, in addition to all the knowledge and skills employers gain.”

Surfers for Autism

Corie Hatcher, Stacia Regar and son, Radley.jpg - Corie Hatcher, Stacia Regar and son, Radley

Corie Hatcher, Stacia Regar and son, Radley

The August 1 Surfer for Autism event was the 6th Annual Inlet Beach Festival.  The APD NE office always looks forward to participating and was well represented with Waiver Supervisor Becky Scales, Questionnaire for Situational Information Assessors Corie Hatcher and Stacia Regar, and myself.

I always enjoy seeing the smiles, hearing the laughter and watching these new surfers ride the waves. At times it’s as if they are one with the water, gliding their surf boards along the waves with such ease showing everyone their skills.

Surfers are getting ready for a day of fun.

Surfers are getting ready for a day of fun.

At a Surfers for Autism event, surfers are provided a safe, fun, judgement-free environment where highly skilled surf instructors carefully guide them into waves. Surfers and their families are treated like rock stars and enjoy a day filled with a range of activities including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, live music, face-painting, games, the Ponce Inlet Police and Fire Department allowed participants to paint their vehicles for the fire engine tours and much more. A catered lunch was provided, at no cost to registered participants, their families and volunteers.

This is a very special day where children with developmental disability interact with peers without disabilities and wow families with their capabilities.

We would love for you to join us for the upcoming Surfers for Autism events:

  • 6th Annual First Coast Beach Festival, August 22, 2015
  • 6th Annual North Coast Beach Festival, September 26, 2015

For more information on Surfers for Autism, please visit: http://surfersforautism.org

Employment Enhancement Project

The Employment Enhancement Project (EEP) was a great success this year with Employment Specialist Helen “Renee” Cooke taking the lead this past year.

The NE region used EEP funds to assist 38 people with developmental disabilities become employed. Our goal was 28 and we surpassed that by 10.  The field office breakdown is:

  • Gainesville Office = 5
  • Jacksonville Office = 11
  • Daytona Beach Office = 22

The majority of the jobs are in the restaurant and food service industry, followed by retail and grocery stores. Cooke said, “It is always rewarding to see our customers’ secure competitive employment and reach their goal of working.  Work allows all of us to interact with different people and learn new skills. It is the path that leads to self-confidence, a sense of personal achievement and independence.”

For more information on the EEP, please visit: http://apd.myflorida.com/customers/supported-employment/ .

Support Groups

One of my goals this year is to have more families, friends and individuals with disabilities get involved with their support groups through Facebook.  There are several Facebooks support group connections in this region and I think this is a great way for people to give and receive emotional and practical support, along with information exchange.

Support groups can provide:

  • Unconditional support and understanding;
  • Information about doctors, medicines, medical procedures, research;
  • Information about policies, funding, legislation; and
  • Possibly financial resources.

Using Facebook, we can market the various support groups and people can attend meetings from the comfort of their home. In addition, the connections and information will be available for future use.

Last but not least, I want to thank the Northeast region team for their hard work throughout the year. You work under tight time frames and continue to meet deadlines to ensure the health and safety of all who we support.  It was a very busy year and everyone stepped up to the challenge and shined bright.  Your dedication to people we support never wavered from your intention to demonstrate outstanding service.

For more information about the APD Northeast Region, please visit: http://apd.myflorida.com/region/northeast/


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ADA 25th Anniversary Celebrations around the State

ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law 25 years ago on July 26, 1990.  To celebrate the anniversary of this landmark legislation, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) invites you to join us and participate in events around the state with the first event in Miami.

Gallery of Dreams poster 2

July 10-2015 – Southern Region

On July 10, APD’s Southern Region will host its seventh annual Gallery of Dreams at the Rohde Building, South Tower lobby, located at 401 Northwest 2nd Avenue. The opening ceremony will be held 10-11 a.m.

The art exhibit will feature the work of more than two dozen artists in Miami-Dade County who are also customers of APD. The artwork will remain up until August 31. For these artists, an exhibition of their work in a public gallery is truly a dream come true.

The artists are mostly untrained, and are not in the mainstream Miami arts community. This makes the artwork even more amazing, as the artists’ natural talents reflect their unique perceptions. Often the art was created during adult day training and licensed community residential programs.

Gallery of Dreams Program

10 a.m.            Welcome by Evelyn Alvarez

10:10 a.m.       Singing of the National Anthem-Alex Diaz-Cruz

10:15 a.m.       Keynote speaker-Andrew Vargas from Trujillo, Vargas, Ortiz & Gonzalez, P.A.-History of the ADA

10:35 a.m.       Presentation of the Proclamation-Rep. Levine

10:45 a.m.       Recognition of the Artists-Kirk Ryon and Maria Angeles Linares

11 a.m.            Wrap-up, thank you and opening of the Gallery of Dreams-Evelyn Alvarez

For more information, please contact Maria Linares at Maria.Linares@apdcares.org .

July 18, 2015 – Suncoast Region

The APD Suncoast Region is proud to serve on the Hillsborough County Alliance for Citizens with Disabilities committee and believes in its goal to provide “public awareness information and activities concerning the needs and resources of citizens with disabilities.”

In keeping with this goal, the committee has organized an exciting celebration to honor the 25th Anniversary of the ADA.  This Year’s them is ADA: 25 Years of Progress.

The ADA Celebration is at:

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)

4801 East Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL

Schedule of Events

9:30 a.m. – Sensory Friendly

10 a.m.-2 p.m. – Open to the Public

Exhibitors will be on hand to share information and the latest and greatest in technology advancements and improvements.

The Annual Advocacy Awards for Thomas Ulvenes Outstanding Community Service, Karen Jacobs Accessibility for All, Outstanding Youth/Young Adult Service Award and Veterans Service Award (New) will be presented during the event.  Refreshments to be served.

For more information, please contact Glorie Singleton at Glorie.Singleton@apdcares.org .

Northeast Region

The Northeast APD Region has two ADA celebrations planned:  July 22 in Daytona Beach and July 23 in Gainesville.  The schedule for both events are:

July 22, 2015 – Daytona Beach

10 a.m. – Meet in the UCF building on the Daytona State College Campus for remarks by State Representative Dwayne Taylor and to watch the video “Lives Worth Living,” a history of the ADA, and how this legislation has shaped our lives, followed by music.

11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Gather in the clock tower quad / landing in the courtyard of Daytona State College to hear speeches from a state senator, an individual with a disability, and a local businessman or local government official. After the speeches, we will release 25 red, white and blue balloons in the courtyard.

4:30 p.m. to 5:55 p.m. – Meet at the Volusia County Courthouse Annex steps (125 Orande Ave.) next to Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Radiology Associates Field on City Island. Converge upon the steps of the Court House Annex on Orange Avenue for speeches from Judge Dawn Fields, individuals with a disability, and a state senator.

6 p.m. – March as a group to the Jackie Robinson Ball Park for the gate opening at 6:05 PM for ADA Night. The game is between the Daytona Tortugas and Charlotte Stone Crabs.

A contest to create posters depicting how the ADA has improved the lives of those with a disability will occur within the local disability community. The posters will be displayed at the ball field on ADA Night. A state representative, and local government official will select three posters to be displayed throughout the year in public buildings (Court House, libraries, and city halls).

July 23, 2015 – Gainesville

Alachua County Senior Recreation Center
5701 NW 34th Street
Gainesville FL 32653

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – There will be an ADA Expo to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Expo will include many community resources, personal stories and door prizes.

Lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m.

For more information, please contact Belinda Hoyt at belinda.hoyt@apdcares.org .

Northwest Region

There are two celebrations planned for the APD Northwest Region: July 24 in Tallahassee and July 29 in Pensacola. 

July 24, 2015 – Tallahassee

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA on July 24 in Tallahassee. APD, Ability 1st, Blind Services, City of Tallahassee, Vocational Rehabilitation, and many other stakeholders will host Florida’s celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the ADA. State and community leaders will participate in a program from 10 to 11 a.m. in Tallahassee City Commission Chambers. The keynote speaker will be national disability advocate John Kemp, who had a role in the creation of the ADA.

Event Program

9 a.m. – 11 a.m. – Informational Displays at 2nd Floor City Hall

9 a.m. – Marchers Gathering at Adams Street and Park Avenue

9:30 a.m. – Celebrate Independence March to City Hall

9:45 a.m. – Cut Celebration Cake at 2nd Floor City Hall

10 a.m. – ADA Celebration Program with John Kemp, State and Local Dignitaries

11 a.m. – Entertainment, Activities, and Lunch at Capital Courtyard

Sponsors of this event include Tallahassee Community College, Leon County, City of Tallahassee, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Publix, Outback, and many others. Door prizes will be given out at the end of the program at City Hall including tickets to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where they filmed “Dolphin Tale,” and Tallahassee IMAX tickets. More information available at http://apdcares.org/

For more information, please contact Melanie Etters at Melanie.etters@apdcares.org

July 29, 2015 – Pensacola

There is an Annual ADA Awards and Volunteer Recognition Luncheon & Lacey A. Collier Sensory Complex Tours from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Escambia Westgate School in Pensacola.

For more information, individuals can call Danny Broxson at 850-595-5566 or email danielb@cil-drc.org .

July 30, 2015 – Southeast Region

The Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc. (CILO) will celebrate their 25th Anniversary and the 25th Anniversary of the ADA.  The event will be held from noon to 3 p.m. at:

6800 Forest Hill Boulevard
West Palm Beach FL

Wear your island best and enjoy a Caribbean Barbeque

Music of Tito Puente, Jr. and the Royal DJ’s.

There is a $10 fee to cover the cost of the food and entertainment.  Click here to register for the event.

For more information, please visit: http://www.cilo.org/

If you need an A.D.A. accommodation, (sign language interpreter, large print, use wheelchair), the deadline to register is July 15, 2015. Please call 561.966.4288, VP: 561.290.025 or email lfox@cilo.org .

For a complete list of ADA events, please visit http://apdcares.org/news/adaevents.htm .

ADA Proclamation


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ADA 25th Anniversary Celebration Planned

TALLAHASSEE, FL—The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law 25 years ago this month, and the Tallahassee community will celebrate this landmark legislation on July 24. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Ability 1st, Blind Services, City of Tallahassee, Vocational Rehabilitation, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Family Network on Disabilities, Able Trust, Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, and many other stakeholders will host Florida’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the ADA.

State and community leaders will participate in a program from 10 to 11 a.m. in Tallahassee City Commission Chambers, located at 300 South Adams Street. A keynote speaker will be national disability advocate John Kemp, who had a role in the creation of the ADA.

There will be several activities occurring in downtown Tallahassee throughout the morning. Make plans to attend the 25th Anniversary of the ADA Celebration on July 24 in Tallahassee.

Event Agenda

  • 9-11 a.m. – Informational displays at City Hall, 2nd Floor
  • 9 a.m. – Marchers gather at Adams Street and Park Avenue
  • 9:30 a.m. – Celebrate Independence March down Adams Street to City Hall
  • 9:45 a.m. – Cut Celebration Cake at City Hall, 2nd Floor
  • 10 a.m. – ADA Celebration Program with John Kemp, state, and local dignitaries
  • 11 a.m. – Entertainment, activities, and lunch for marchers at Capitol Courtyard

Sponsors of this event include Tallahassee Community College, Leon County, City of Tallahassee, Publix, Awards4U, Outback Steakhouse, Florida State University, StarMetro, Big Bend Transit, and many others.

Door prizes will be given out at the end of the program at City Hall, including tickets to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where “Dolphin’s Tale” was filmed, and passes to Tallahassee’s IMAX theater. Visit apdcares.org/news/adaevents.htm for more details.


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Guidance for Changes to the Adults with Disabilities Program for People Eligible for Agency for Persons with Disabilities Services

The Florida Legislature has supported Governor Rick Scott’s recommendation and approved $1.2 billion in funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) for the 2015-16 state fiscal year. The budget includes $40 million to offer Medicaid waiver enrollment to more than 2,000 people who are on the APD waiting list. Additionally, the budget contains $1 million for employment programs for people with developmental disabilities. With all this positive news, there is one program that saw a dramatic reduction in funding for the upcoming year.

The Adults with Disabilities (AWD) program within the Department of Education Division of Vocational Rehabilitation was appropriated $750,000 for next year by the Legislature, down from the annual amount of $10 million that was included in the Governor’s recommended budget. With this cut in funding, the program may no longer be able to provide services to many adults who have a variety of disabilities. Some of the people who received services through the AWD program have developmental disabilities and may be eligible to receive services from APD. Those individuals who are currently served under the APD iBudget Florida Medicaid waiver will continue to receive allowable services under the waiver program.

APD is committed to assisting individuals who are eligible for APD services and who may be affected by the reduction to the AWD program. People eligible for APD services must have one of the following developmental disabilities as defined in Chapter 393, Florida Statutes:

  • Intellectual Disability
  • Down Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Autism
  • Spina Bifida
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome

For more information regarding the eligibility criteria and the services that are available from APD, please visit http://apdcares.org/customers/application/ Individuals affected by this situation may contact the Regional APD office for a review of allowable services that may be available. Attached is a map of the APD Regional Offices and the contact information for the Regional Operations Manager.

The Regional Office will need the following information in order to assess whether assistance can be provided to the individual:

  • If the individual is not the person calling the region, the region will need a signed release by the individual/legal representative to discuss the individual’s situation
  • Name of person who was receiving services from the AWD program, name of the program from which the person was receiving services, the specific service the person was receiving from the AWD funding and the amount of service being provided, and
  • Information on whether the person is already a client of APD or if the person needs to apply for eligibility determination for APD.

The APD Resource Directory at http://apdcares.org/resourcedirectory is a great resource to identify local community organizations that provide services to individuals with a variety of needs and can be another option to address this loss of funding.


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WHAT THEY ARE SAYING…Stakeholders Praise Gov. Scott’s Budget

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Rick Scott signed the Keep Florida Working Budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016. It invests $1.2 billion to support people with disabilities so they may live and participate in their local communities. It includes $40 million to enroll more than 2,000 people from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiting list into the iBudget Florida Medicaid waiver so they may receive ongoing services. The budget also includes $1 million dollars to help people with disabilities receive on-the-job training and internships so they are able to land a permanent job.  Here’s what disability advocates are saying about the budget:

Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) Director Barbara Palmer said, “We are very excited about the budget for the coming year. I thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for their continued leadership and support of individuals with disabilities in our state. This is the third year that APD has received funding to serve people on the waiting list. This money will allow those with immediate needs to enroll into the Medicaid waiver. I appreciate Governor Scott’s confidence in APD and the people we serve.”

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Pauline Lipps said, “We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for continuing to reduce the APD waiting list of individuals with developmental disabilities across the state. We are grateful that an additional $40 million will serve more than 2,000 people in need of community services. We are also pleased that $1 million will go toward employment programs for individuals with developmental disabilities who need additional assistance on the job.”

Parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida Betty Kay Clements, said, “I am pleased about Governor Scott’s 2015-16 Keep Florida Working Budget and how it strongly supports people with disabilities. With $1million for the Employment Enhancement Project, APD will be able to continue to support the employment contributions that individuals with developmental disabilities can make as they highlight their many abilities. Individuals who have received APD support for employment say they are proud to work and make a difference in their communities.”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida chairperson Janice Phillipssaid, “We are thrilled with the 2015-16 Keep Florida Working Budget that provides an $8 million rate increase to waiver support coordinators.  We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for this much needed increase to these front line workers who advocate for people with developmental disabilities. This critical increase will help keep these dedicated and diligent professionals out in their communities working to assist individuals with disabilities so they are successful in reaching their goals.”

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Debra Dowds said, “We appreciate Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for their continued support to address the needs of Floridians with developmental disabilities. This additional funding will allow many more people with developmental disabilities on the APD waiting list to be offered waiver enrollment and to receive employment services so they may be independent and meaningfully participate in their communities.”

The Arc of Florida Chief Executive Officer Deborah Linton said, “The Arc of Florida is grateful for the ​opportunity​ to help end pain and suffering for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the dental funding provided in the Florida budget. ​I​n addition, we appreciate the opportunity to once again serve more individuals off of the waiting list and to continue our pursuit of better quality affordable housing through funding​ approved​ in the budget.”


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Northwest Takes a Look Back as the Year Closes

By Lynne Daw, APD Northwest Region Manager

Ah, the month of June! While school kids are literally counting the days until the start of summer vacation, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) and other state agencies focus on June as the end of the State fiscal year. This “New Years’ Eve” provides a great opportunity to look at all of the current year’s accomplishments, as well as a great time for setting goals for the upcoming year. There’s been so much to celebrate!

Katrina Washington, employment liaison, and Lynne Daw, Northwest regional manager, display the Making a Difference Award.

From left, Katrina Washington, employment liaison, and Lynne Daw, Northwest regional manager, display the Making a Difference Award.

Jobs, jobs, jobs!  One of the agency’s priorities is providing opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to become competitively employed. We are thrilled to report that, through the agency’s Employment Enhancement Project (EEP), 45 individuals on the waiting list, in their last year of high school, found jobs through this funding in the Northwest Region  and several others are currently involved with internships that are leading them toward paid employment. This exceeded the region’s goal and we’re not done yet!  Our employment liaisons have been actively working with our supported employment providers and with all of the school systems within the region to identify transitioning students who are ready to graduate and get to work!  Through community partnerships, the region held Job Clubs, set up mock interviews, hosted resume writing workshops, and participated in multiple transition fairs to educate students on the importance of working and how to be job-ready upon graduation. In addition to the students involved in the EEP program, the region currently has more than 750 people who are working! Our own Katrina Washington, employment liaison, was recently honored with the Making a Difference Award on May 7 at the Visions Conference in Orlando for her ongoing commitment to supporting employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The award was presented by the Florida Division on Career Development and Transition.

Our agency is committed to helping individuals on the waiting list. This fiscal year, the waiting list coordinators in the Northwest Region, under the strong leadership of supervisor Sharon Stephens, have been able to provide services to over 450 individuals on the waiting list.

Have you seen the agency’s Resource Directory lately? If not, I would encourage you to check it out! Annette Zeeb, the Northwest Region’s community liaison, has identified countless additional resources in the past year that were added to this comprehensive resource database.

We so appreciate the wonderful partnership with our local Family Care Councils (FCCs). Each has active members who are committed to supporting families in our region, as well as providing valuable feedback to the agency. This year, the FCCs sponsored several great educational workshops for families and self-advocates and also helped provide some families with the opportunity to attend this year’s Family Café conference!  This is always a popular event and the FCCs look forward to hearing from the attendees on what they learned during this action-packed weekend. We also hope that you will commit to attending the upcoming FCC-sponsored workshop with nationally renowned speaker Kathie Snow, scheduled for Tuesday, June 16, at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida. If you’ve not had the chance to hear Ms. Snow speak, you’ll definitely want to make plans to attend this exciting event!

Pat Green celebrates her retirement from APD.

Pat Green celebrates her retirement from APD.

All employees look forward to the time when they can retire. The region has already had two employees retire earlier this year and we are ending the fiscal year with two of our longest standing employees, Pat Green in our Pensacola office and Bonnie Williams in our Marianna office, ending their careers.  Collectively, these two women served the State of Florida in excess of 73 years! We can’t imagine an APD without these two dedicated workers!

While finishing out this year, we are already looking forward to an exciting new year. We are diligently working with some of our residential providers in developing new behavior focus and intensive behavioral homes to enable some of our customers to return back to their home region to be closer to their families and friends.

Portrait of Bonnie Williams

Bonnie Williams retires from APD’s Marianna Office in the first week of June.

Our regional work streams are developing a quality improvement process to identify patterns and trends in service delivery to better identify ways that we can collaborate with our providers in improving services to our customers and identifying opportunities for improvement within our own internal processes.

Finally, we are looking at additional ways to inform the public about our agency, identify students earlier in their school career who meet APD eligibility, and find ways that we can improve our responsiveness to individuals on the waiting list.

The successes we had this year were possible because of the amazing team of dedicated employees I have the honor of working with each day. They consistently come to work with a great attitude and are “raring to go!”  We can’t wait to see what is in store for us next year!

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