Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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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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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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Summer Safety

Sun Safety

June is National Safety Month.  APD wants you to have a happy and safe summer vacation, and we will give you safety tips throughout the entire month.  As your family heads to the beach, (Billy Joe Rish Park we hope!) keep in mind the following summer safety issues:

  • Sun safety
  • Water safety
  • Surviving the hot weather
  • Impaired driving
  • Fireworks safety

 

Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can not only cause painful sunburns, but can also have long-lasting, damaging health effects including skin cancer, eye damage, and premature aging.  The best ways to prevent excessive sun exposure are wear a shirt, use broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, and wear a hat and sunglasses.

Water Safety

No matter where you are in Florida you are never too far from a beach, and with several months of warm weather boating, swimming, and other water activities are very popular.  Water safety is extremely important especially for young children and individuals with disabilities that may have mobility issues.  The following tips will help you and your loved ones stay safe while swimming or boating this summer:

  • Supervise young children when in or around water
  • Use the buddy system
  • One-on-one supervision or use life jackets for people who have seizures
  • Learn to swim
  • Learn CPR
  • Avoid alcohol while near water
  • Know local weather conditions before swimming or boating
  • Use life jackets when boating
  • Know the meaning and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags
  • Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents
  • If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore

Surviving the hot weather

Heat related illness, such as heatstroke, can happen to anyone who is not accustomed to being in intense heat.  Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  Signs of heatstroke may include:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Fainting or unconsciousness

The best method of fighting heatstroke is prevention.  Get in the shade and keep cool.  Remember to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water.  Refrain from engaging in rigorous outdoor activities if you are not used to the heat.

Impaired Driving

Drinking and driving is never a good combination.  Driving impaired or riding in the car with an impaired driver can result in serious injury to yourself or others, and potentially even death.  If you go to a social gathering that will involve alcohol, make plans in advance.  You can make the decision to be the designated driver, arrange for transportation by cab, or arrange for a friend to be your designated driver.  Having a plan before you go to a party is one step in ensuring you and your fellow drivers’ safety.

Fireworks Safety

Summer brings picnics, barbecues, parades and fireworks displays, especially around the 4th of July. Summer also brings an increase in injuries from backyard grills, bonfires, and fireworks.  The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers several common sense tips for staying safe during the holiday season.

  • Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.
  • Do no alter fireworks; use as directed on packaging.
  • Observe local laws.
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  • Never relight a dud firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak in a bucket of water.
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trashcan.

 

Fishing on the beach


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Sunland Center

Guest post by Sunland Center Superintendent Merlin Roulhac

 

Sunland Center is a Developmental Disabilities Center operated by the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Sunland Center comprises Sunland at Marianna, the Developmental Disabilities Defendant Program in Chattahoochee, and Rish Park in Cape San Blas.

Sunland is focused on becoming recognized as a world-class organization through superior management, respecting people, focusing on our customers, and implementing performance improvement through our Organizational Performance Improvement teams.

April has been a busy and exciting month at Sunland.  The warmer weather of April brings on many fun filled events and activities for both staff and residents. Special Olympics kicked spring into high gear and the Sonic Basketball team secured a solid victory among the other great competitors.

The Pathways TEAM launched their first Jam Blast which was a resounding success. Residents and staff entertained everyone with melodic sounds by various recording artists, to include Luke Bryan, The Temptations, R. Kelly, and Billy Weathers, just to name a few.

An appreciation picnic for Sunland’s volunteers was held on April 10 at the Sunland Environmental Park.  Approximately 100 volunteers and staff attended.  Awards were presented to Maria Johnson, Volunteer of the Year and the Marianna Women’s Club as the Volunteer Group of the Year.  Thank you volunteers for everything you do – Sunland values and appreciates you!   Baskets of delicious goodies will be delivered to the residents’ homes on April 17, followed by the annual Special Olympics Equestrian show which takes place on April 18 and is a highly anticipated event for both residents and staff.  Family Day rounds out April with great eagerness and anticipation as residents and their families enjoy a relaxing day and delicious picnic lunch at the Sunland Environmental Park.

These activities would not be possible without the dedication of our employees. Sunland administration certainly appreciates their devotion and commitment to those we serve.  Understanding that employee appreciation has long been recognized as key to a successful, positive workplace environment, we have worked diligently to build a vibrant employee recognition program. The Sunland Employee Recognition Program is alive and well, with a very robust Star Employee program.   This program operates systematically, recognizing and honoring the extraordinary achievements of our employees by publicly announcing such accomplishments to the Sunland community and celebrating these achievements monthly, quarterly, and annually.  Staff may be recognized with an individual Star Employee award, or as a member of a Star Team.  We are pleased to report that calendar year to date, a total of 77 employees have been recognized as Star employees!  Sunland appreciates our workforce and strives to create and maintain a positive work environment where employees have an opportunity to excel in their chosen professions.

In other news, Maria, a Sunland employee and Robert, a Pathways resident placed first and third, respectively, in a city art show held in Marianna.

Recently, Sunland teamed up with the APD State Office Webmaster and launched a website that includes Sunland at Marianna, Pathways, the Developmental Disabilities Defendant Program (DDDP), and a link that will take site visitors to the Rish Park page. To visit the site, go to http://apdcares.org/sunland/.

Finally, William J. (Billy Joe) Rish Park is open year round for people with disabilities and their family members, guardians, and caregivers.  The 2014 summer season is off to a very busy start with daily reservations and renovations on the bay side of the park. For reservations at (or questions about) the park, you can contact Onna Lipford at (850) 482-9386 or e-mail Onna.Lipford@apdcares.org.


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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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APD Schedules Town Hall Meetings

TALLAHASSEE —The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) and the Family Care Councils have scheduled five Town Hall meetings in North Florida. APD Director Barbara Palmer will present a state of the agency, share an update on the approved Florida Families First budget, then lead a question and answer session with attendees.

Director Palmer said, “Our first few Town Hall meetings have gone very well and I want to continue to talk to our stakeholders about our agency.  I especially enjoy listening to individuals and families who are served by APD about their concerns and successes.”

If individuals are not able to attend a Town Hall meeting, they may submit questions through Twitter @FloridaAPD and Director Palmer will read the question and respond to it during a meeting.

The next APD Town Hall meetings will be at the following locations:

JACKSONVILLE
July 9, 6-8 p.m.
The Arc Jacksonville
1050 Davis Street
Jacksonville, FL 32209

DAYTONA BEACH
July 10, 2-4 p.m.
University of Central Florida
1200 W International Speedway Blvd
Building 150, Room 101
Daytona Beach, FL
Parking is in Lot Orange B

PANAMA CITY
July 17, 1-3 p.m.
Holley Language and Literature Building
Sarzin Lecture Hall
Gulf Coast State College
5230 W. Hwy 98
Panama City, FL 32401

PENSACOLA
July 18, 3-5 p.m.
Marcus Point Baptist Church
6205 N W St
Pensacola, FL 32505

GAINESVILLE
July 25, 10 a.m.-noon
Department of Transportation
2301 NW 39th Avenue
Gainesville, FL

To find out the latest schedule of APD Town Hall meetings, visit APDCares.org.  Director Palmer will visit every region of the state to hear ways the agency can improve its services to citizens with developmental disabilities.

To encourage attendance at the APD Town Hall meetings, APD is launching the Picture This campaign. Town Hall attendees are asked to take a digital photo with Director Palmer before or after the meeting with their camera or smart phone, and then send it to APD.info@apdcares.org.  The photos will be posted on the APD website and on APD social media. One photo will be picked to be highlighted in the APD Champion newsletter each month.

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. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273) or visit APDcares.org.


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Town Hall Meeting in Largo

In case you missed the Town Hall meeting in Largo you can view the full meeting on the Florida Channel’s website by visiting the following link:

 

http://thefloridachannel.org/video/62713-agency-for-persons-with-disabilities-town-hall-meeting-in-largo/


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Governor Scott Celebrates $36 Million in Funding for APD Waiting List

JACKSONVILLE, FL—Today, Governor Rick Scott visited Pine Castle in Jacksonville to celebrate $36 million in funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list.  Disability stakeholders stood with Governor Scott in support of the increase in funding for APD in the 2013-2014 state budget. Hundreds of people were at Pine Castle today to hear the good news from Governor Scott.

Governor Scott said, “I want every Floridian, including those with disabilities, to be able to follow their dreams. By investing $36 million in funding for APD for the first time in eight years, individuals with disabilities will be able to receive services in their communities and more people will be able to get the skills they need to have a job.”

The Florida Families First budget includes $1.1 billion for APD, including for the first time in eight years, a $36 million investment to 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 individuals with the most critical needs will benefit from the new funding.

The Florida Families First budget also includes 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 end the current fiscal year on June 30 within its appropriation for the first time in years. Leaders of organizations that serve people with disabilities unanimously praised the approved budget.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “For the first time in eight years, we will move more than 750 people off the APD waiting list so that they will receive the services they need to participate in their community and develop skills to find employment. I want to thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for their support of our agency. All stakeholders and employees worked together to bring our waiver spending under control, and we are ready to begin helping those with the most urgent needs beginning July 1.”

Karen Prewitt, Family Care Council Area 4 Chairperson said, “As parents of a child on the APD waiting list, my husband and I are thrilled that steps are finally being taken to address the need for services, and recognizing the thousands of families on the APD waiting list.  While our son Caleb is yet very young, we realize the importance of the waiting list and waiver, and the assistance that is being made available to so many more families with this budget approval.  We are just one of many families in the state of Florida who have their own story and a loved one who has needs. This move is such a positive experience and we are thrilled, for the first time in many years, all those families on the waiting list can have so much more hope in getting the help they need. Thank you, Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature!”

Pine Castle, Inc. Executive Director Jon May said, “On behalf of the 400 participants at Pine Castle and those on the waiting list for services in the state of Florida, I want to extend a sincere thank you to Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for adding $36 Million in funding to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to serve additional persons in need from the waiting list.  We also appreciate Governor Scott visiting our center today to celebrate this new funding.  Pine Castle is where people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities enjoy opportunities to learn, work, and connect to the community.”

Lou Ogburn, Family Care Council Area Two Chairperson, said, “The Family Care Council and I commend Governor Scott for remembering those persons with disabilities and putting them as a priority in his budget this year.  This was a very good thing and certainly the right thing to do.”

The new budget also includes about $500,000 to assist people on the waiver waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work.  The funding will pay for supported employment services to help 200 people with developmental disabilities obtain and maintain jobs and internships.

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) President and Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Sewell said, “Our membership is thrilled that Governor Scott and lawmakers truly placed Florida families first this year while balancing the need to invest in economic development issues and improvements to Florida’s educational system.  We are delighted with the outcome of this budget and applaud all who supported the great initiatives within it. We are also pleased that the governor has visited so many community provider agencies to share his Florida Families First budget and to express his commitment to support job development opportunities for individuals with disabilities.”

The Florida Families First budget invests in a 3 percent raise to providers of adult day training services in the Home and Community Based Services Medicaid waiver program. Providers offer individuals up to six hours a day of activities that support the individual in daily routines of the community, including training in the areas of self-help, adaptive, and social skills.

Sylvia James-Miller, Vice Chair for the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council and an advocate from Marion County said, “This is a huge step in the right direction for Floridians with disabilities. The increase in funding for Adult Day Training providers alone is a valuable service that has not seen an increase in a number of years. We are very happy.”

Additionally, the budget contains $1.4 million for improvements to William J. Rish Park on Cape San Blas in Gulf County. Rish Park is a state park, operated by APD that was built and designed for people with disabilities. The facilities on the bay side of the park were damaged years ago by a hurricane and have been unusable. This new money will allow the entire park to be available to people with disabilities to enjoy.

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 Scott: Florida Families First Budget Invests in Priorities for Disability Community and Vulnerable Populations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today highlighted investments in the Florida Families First budget to invest in programs for Florida’s disability community.

Governor Scott said, “For the first time in eight years, our budget will be used to remove persons with disabilities from the Medicaid waiver program waitlist and get them the help they desperately need. As we put Florida’s families first, we have a responsibility to invest in programs for the disabled and other vulnerable populations.”

The Florida Families First budget supports Governor Scott’s commitment to make investments for Florida’s disability community.

 

  • Agency for Persons with Disabilities Waitlist Funding:  For the first time in eight years, the Florida Families First budget provides additional funding for the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver program to go toward serving individuals on the waiting list. The Florida Families First budget provides $36.3 million to remove an estimated 750 individuals from the waitlist and onto the waiver program.

 

  • Nursing Home Diversion and Aged and Disabled Adult Waiver Waitlist Funding: The Florida Families First budget funds the waitlist by $25.2 million.  This funding will help keep the most frail of individuals at risk of home placement in their homes and community settings. The funding will serve approximately 2,000 individuals on the waitlist.

 

  • Fetal Alcohol Diagnosis and Intervention: The Florida Families First budget  more than doubles existing funds for early intervention and treatment to mitigate potential long term effects on children.

 

  • Quest Kids: The Florida Families First budget invests $650,000 toward early intervention services for at least 82 children, and skill validation and behavioral support services for at least 221 adults. Services will teach critical skills and reduce problem behavior, improve IQ and adaptive and social skills in children, and develop home-life and employment skills in adults. With this funding, individuals with disabilities will master new skills, transition into and maintain placement in mainstream school, improve literacy skills, achieve personal goals, and maintain current living arrangements.

 

  • Dan Marino Jobs Program for Children with Disabilities: The Florida Families First budget invests $1,000,000 toward on-the-job training, internships, and mentor apprenticeships for individuals with developmental disabilities between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. With this funding, more young adults with disabilities will have firsthand opportunities to prove their value in the workplace. Maximizing firsthand experiences in the workplace was one of three primary recommendations of the premier 2012 report by the Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities. 

 

  • Rate Increase for Adult Day Training Providers: The Florida Families First budget invests $1,895,756 in the form of a 3 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.

 

  • William J. (Billy Joe) Rish Recreational Park: The Florida Families First budget provides $1,400,000 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. Special ramps provide access to the beautiful beach on the Gulf of Mexico.  Boardwalks connect all the cabins to the beach, event hall, and pool, and the Olympic-size swimming pool is wheelchair accessible. 

 

Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer said, “The agency is extremely grateful and humbled by the support we have received from both Governor Scott and the Legislature. The $36 million to help individuals with critical needs move from the waiting list to the Medicaid waiver will dramatically improve their lives and allow them to receive needed services in their communities. Also, the funding to provide job coaches and internships to additional people with disabilities will help them compete in the job market, and go to work like everyone else. We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for this strong support which will truly change lives.”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida Chairperson Janice Phillips said, “The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida “With the improvement in the economy and increase in state revenue, it is heartening to know that Governor Scott and the Legislature are making Florida’s citizens who are most in need a priority.  We are sincerely grateful to Gov. Scott and the Legislature for the funding to provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities who are on the waiting list.  We have many deserving people who need support and services to help them live in their community and to realize goals such as working and being productive citizens.”

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, “On behalf of its member agencies and the thousands of individuals they serve, the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities thanks Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for approving funding that will allow the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to begin addressing the DD Medicaid Waiver services wait list.  For the first time in eight years, hundreds of wait list individuals and their families can look forward to receiving much needed services to meet their health and safety needs.  As a result of the incremental funding and triage language that was passed to conform with the wait list funding, Floridians with developmental disabilities and their families can be assured that their needs were truly recognized by our Governor and lawmakers.”

Family Care Council Florida Past Chair Betty Kay Clements said, “Many thanks to Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislator for their attention to individuals with developmental disabilities.  There will be dramatic and positive changes in the lives of at least 750 people and their families.  This is wonderful news for them and for their families. It is a step in the right direction and one that gives hope to those waiting for services.   Addressing the needs and issues of individuals with developmental disabilities is a win- win situation.  It really does make a difference for them, their families and their communities.  Individuals, families and their Florida communities are the winners.”

Executive Director of Special Olympics Florida Sherry Wheelock said, “This new $36 million in funding for the APD waiting list is critical to expanding statewide access to support services for those who need them most.  It will help grow awareness of programs like Special Olympics Healthy Community that offers comprehensive health screenings, evaluations, and wellness opportunities to a population that is generally underserved.  We are grateful that Governor Scott, the Legislature, and APD recognize and are committed to better serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; a goal that Special Olympics has routinely sought to accomplish.”