Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Together, We Can Achieve Even More

Patricia Houghland
Chair, Family Care Council Florida

In honor of National Volunteer Month, I’d like to express my great appreciation for the 180 members of the 15 local Family Care Councils (FCCs) for their hard work and service educating, empowering, and advocating for Floridians with developmental disabilities and their families.

These volunteers are the driving force behind measurable, effective change on the local level. They also partner with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) to make sure self-advocates and families have input in statewide policies.

We’ve made great progress, but there’s so much more we want to accomplish. With your help, we can achieve even greater things.

FCC members are individuals with developmental disabilities and parents, siblings, grandparents, and guardians of people who qualify for services from APD. They mentor families, meet with legislators, host educational forums, review APD policies, and more.

If you’d like to get involved as a member, connect with someone who is experiencing a similar journey, or learn more about the FCCs’ 25 years of service to our state, please visit www.fccflorida.org or call 1-800-470-8101.


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APD Participates in Developmental Disabilities Day

Governor Scott has proclaimed February 14 Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day in Florida! Come celebrate with from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. in Tallahassee! APD will have a booth inside on the second floor of the Capitol. The state of Florida supports more than 100,00 individuals with developmental disabilities and wants to increase public awareness and education regarding the issues affecting those individuals and their families and caregivers. Read the Governor’s proclamation below:

DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES AWARENESS DAY IN FLORIDA. WHEREAS, people born with developmental disabilities are a part of every community,
socioeconomic class, religion, and country; and
WHEREAS, the state of Florida supports more than 100,000 citizens with developmental
disabilities through services provided by state programs including the Agency for Persons with
Disabilities (APD), Agency for Health Care Administration, Department of Health, and Department
of Education's Divisions of Exceptional Student Education, Blind Services, and Vocational
Rehabilitation, and by partner organizations and thousands of private-sector and community
providers; and
WHEREAS, the State of Florida has made record investments to serve the APD waiting list for
Floridians with disabilities to live more independently and find great jobs; and
WHEREAS, the proposed 2018-19 Securing Florida's Future budget continues investments to help
more Floridians with disabilities receive services and assistance; and
WHEREAS, more than 40 million Americans have developmental disabilities, resulting In
substantial limitations in self-care, communication, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for
Independent living, and economic self-sufficiency; and
WHEREAS, public awareness and education enhance understanding of the issues affecting
people with developmental disabilities; and
WHEREAS, the State of Florida also works with dozens of partner organizations and thousands of
private-sector community providers to support those with developmental disabilities;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rick Scott, Governor of the State of Florida, do hereby extend my support
to all observing February 14, 2018, as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day in Florida. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have
hereunto set my hand and caused the
Great Seal of the State of Florida to be
affixed at Tallahassee, the Capital, this
26th day of January, in the year two
thousand eighteen.

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Spotlighting Success

Casey Stewart, a past member of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, has been a fulltime employee of Publix for more than 13 years. Publix is honored to have such a great employee in Casey, who brings smiles to customers’ faces daily and ensures that he makes every one of his coworkers’ days better when he sees them. As a company, Publix has showed a great commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities, recognizing the unique perspectives and outlooks these individuals can share with those around them.

Karen DeLeon has been employed with SeaWorld for over 20 years. Through her employment, she was able to purchase a condo. Independence is a goal for many, and Karen is overjoyed that she has her own place to live.

Last June, Governor Scott hosted the Governors’ Summit on Disabilities at the 19th Anniversary Family Café. During the event, Governor Scott commended both Casey and Karen for their hard work and their commitments to excelling in the workplace. Governor Scott is committed to expanding employment opportunities, including those for individuals with disabilities, across Florida. Casey and Karen are two great examples of Floridians with a great work ethic. They have both been able to succeed with dedication and hard work, and their employers have benefitted as well.


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New Year, Healthier You

As we ring in the New Year, many people make resolutions. One of the most common resolutions is to lose weight and become healthier. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising are key for everyone. You can incorporate simple physical activities and healthy eating tips into your routine to ensure you and your entire family enter 2018 a little healthier and remain so throughout the year.  The following are a few suggestions to help you be successful.

You can learn more about nutrition by visiting the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website: www.choosemyplate.gov. The USDA’s MyPlate program helps you find your healthy eating style and maintain it. The site has information on menus, meal plans, and healthy eating on a budget. Another great resource to find healthy recipes is the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Find recipes by visiting: https://healthyeating.nhlbi.nih.gov/

According to the Florida Department of Health, adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous, physical activity each week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists some of the benefits of exercise as weight control, reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduction in the risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, strengthening your bones and muscles, and improvement in a person’s mental health and mood. Read more about the benefits of physical activity by visiting the CDC website here: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm

Begin your healthy year with something simple such as a brisk walk, aquatic therapy, or seated volleyball to be more active. You can also get involved with the Special Olympics Florida, the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, or another organization in your area.

Make sure you talk to your doctor about changes you want to make to your diet or physical activity prior to beginning.









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Nominate an Exceptional Employer Today!

APD and its partners want to recognize exceptional businesses from around the state that are committed to employing people with disabilities. We need you to nominate an exceptional employer now so they may be considered for an award. The exceptional employers will be recognized because their companies demonstrate an outstanding commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities. Visit apdcares.org to submit an Employer Award nomination.

The employer recognition event will be held on October 4 with a celebration at Tallahassee City Hall, 300 South Adams Street. At the event, there will be informational displays, refreshments, and speakers talking about the importance of providing opportunities for people with disabilities to go to work.

This free public event will be held at the Tallahassee City Commission Chambers on October 4, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Please plan to join us.


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Check Your Well Water

Is your well water well? The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is launching an awareness campaign to encourage private well owners to test their well water. About 12 percent of Florida’s residents receive their water from “limited-use” public water systems and private wells. While all public water systems in Florida are required to perform routine testing to ensure that they meet state drinking water standards, private well owners are responsible for ensuring that their own well water is safe to drink.

Because we live in Florida, we are lucky to have a plentiful source of ground water. Ground water fills the cracks and pores in sand, soil, and rocks that lie beneath the surface of the earth, much like water saturates a sponge. These saturated layers of earth are called aquifers, and they are the primary source of drinking water in Florida.

Due to its protected location underground, most ground water is naturally clean and free of contaminants. Unfortunately, Florida’s aquifers can become contaminated by chemicals and microbes that can cause illness. Bacteria and nitrate can reach the ground water and wells through poorly maintained septic systems, livestock areas, fertilizer application, or as a result of poorly constructed wells. Chemicals can enter the ground water from leaking gasoline storage tanks, pesticide applications, landfills, and improper disposal of toxic and hazardous wastes. As a private well owner, you should be aware of these potential risks to the ground water and your household water supply.

DOH is asking private well owners in Florida to test their well water. It’s simple and inexpensive. You can also find more information located on DOH’s Private Well Testing homepage: http://www.floridahealth.gov/Environmental-Health/private-well-testing/index.html


Well Water Well

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A Great Opportunity for Savings with ABLE United

ABLE United will continue to waive account fees through July 1, 2018, in celebration of the program’s successful first year. Since its official launch on July 1, 2016, ABLE United has provided more than 1,000 Floridians with disabilities a new way to save for a better life experience.

ABLE United was made possible because of the passing of the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which was signed into law nationally on December 19, 2014, and in Florida on May 21, 2015. The ABLE Act amended section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities.

ABLE United is Florida’s qualified ABLE program, which was established to encourage and assist people with disabilities to save private funds to support health, independence, and quality of life. It allows individuals to save up to $14,000 annually without affecting benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid while the funds in the account grow tax-free. Funds can be used on qualified expenses covering a wide range of categories including housing, transportation, and basic living expenses.

Individuals must be Florida residents at the time of application and have a qualifying disability with onset prior to age 26. Opening an account usually takes about 15 minutes, and the individual with a disability owns the account, but an authorized person may open and oversee the account. There is no minimum contribution requirement, and you can save up to $14,000 per year – individually or with the help of family and friends.

To find out more about opening an ABLE United account, please visit http://www.ableunited.com/.

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