Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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“KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” Budget Eliminates Critical Needs Waiting List for Second Year in a Row

Third Year to Fund Waiting List Enrollment

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Florida Governor Rick Scott is again recommending funding to serve individuals with critical needs on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list. Governor Scott’s proposed 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget includes $1.16 billion for APD with $8 million to serve the waiting list. The money will be used to enroll about 400 individuals into the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver so they can use this funding for community services. This is the third year the Governor has recommended money to serve the waiting list and the second year in a row that the Governor has taken the action to eliminate the waiting list.

Governor Scott said, “We are excited that we are recommending the funding to again eliminate the critical needs waiting list this year. These life changing investments will create more opportunities for all Floridians to get the care and treatment they deserve.”

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I cannot thank Governor Scott enough for his continued support of individuals with disabilities. For the third year, Governor Scott is recommending funding to serve people on the waiting list with critical needs. This money will allow everyone with critical needs to enroll into the Medicaid waiver in the coming year. For the past two years, APD has carefully managed its budget while also enrolling new individuals into the Medicaid waiver, which many people thought would be impossible. I appreciate Governor Scott’s ongoing confidence in APD and the people we serve.”

Also for the third year, Governor Scott’s budget proposal includes $2 million to assist people on the waiver and the waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work. This funding will pay for Supported Employment and supported internship services for people with developmental disabilities.

Additionally, Governor Scott is recommending $2.9 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 effectively serve individuals with developmental disabilities by providing electronic information that will track provider services and the progress of the client.

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Pauline Lipps said, “We applaud Governor Scott for his continued efforts to reduce the waiting list of individuals with developmental disabilities across the state of Florida. Through these efforts and the Employment First Initiative, individuals will be afforded the opportunity to pursue employment services in the community that could reduce the barriers of finding competitive employment for individuals with disabilities.”

Betty Kay Clements, parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida, said, “I am so pleased that Governor Scott’s 2015 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget includes $2 million for APD to continue to support the employment contribution that individuals with developmental disabilities can make as they highlight their many abilities.  Given the opportunity, their contribution is not just that of personal growth, self-esteem, and a paycheck, but a job well done that also benefits their communities and Florida’s employers. Everyone benefits!”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida chairperson Janice Phillips said, “We appreciate Governor Scott who continues to embrace the issues facing individuals with developmental disabilities. Providing money to move people with critical needs off the waiting list is an important priority, and I am so happy it is a priority of the governor too. Helping individuals move forward toward their goals is what we all want.  I am pleased that funding has been earmarked to assist people with disabilities with their employment goals.  Having a job is extremely important to everyone, including those with disabilities who are trying to enter the workforce and become productive citizens of our state.”

Area 2 Family Care Council Chairperson Lou Ogburn said, “We applaud the Governor for his efforts to reduce the size of the waiting list.  We are also pleased he is providing help to the developmental disabilities community in employment.  It is critical for those who are able and want to work to be able to earn a paycheck.  His understanding and push to help overcome some of the hurdles with finding willing employers is so important.  We are also pleased with the money for a new Client Data Management System in order to more closely track the services to individuals with developmental disabilities so can be offered more timely when possible.”

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, “We are thrilled to see that waiver enrollment will continue in the coming year and that the Governor is investing in a strong provider network to meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. Providing community services to people with developmental disabilities is essential. We are pleased to see that Governor Scott is recommending about $8 million to continue to move new individuals into the Medicaid waiver and to ensure that a strong viable network is available to provide the services they need.”

“Special Olympics Florida applauds Governor Scott and the Legislature for dedicating critical funds that will help to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Florida. With this funding we are proud to work with APD to create communities statewide that value the contributions of all citizens,” President and CEO of Special Olympics Florida Sherry Wheelock.

To view the complete list of Governor Scott’s budget recommendations, visit www.KeepFloridaWorking.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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Disability Employment Awareness Month Resolution

WHEREAS, Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities provides services to more than 50,000 Floridians with developmental disabilities annually so they can live and work in their local communities; and

WHEREAS, Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services programs within the Department of Education, assist people with disabilities so they may become employed; and

WHEREAS, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, through Career Centers, help people with disabilities, including veterans, locate jobs; and

WHEREAS, these four programs have had an overwhelming impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens with disabilities by offering services including job placement, training, support services, and job coaching; and

WHEREAS, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities has assisted 3,581 Floridians with disabilities with maintaining gainful employment, and Vocational Rehabilitation assisted 7,214  people, and Blind Services helped 713 individuals with achieving their employment goals last year; and

WHEREAS, The Able Trust, also known as the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation, has awarded more than $29 million in grants to organizations throughout Florida, enabling thousands of Florida’s citizens with disabilities to enter the workforce; and

WHEREAS, Florida has the third largest population of disabled veterans in the nation with more than 272,000, including more than 2,500 wounded Floridians from service in Afghanistan and Iraq; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Economic Opportunity are working together to find employment opportunities for veterans with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Services, Department of Economic Opportunity, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and The Able Trust have substantially contributed to the tax revenues of Florida by helping individuals with disabilities go to work, thus enabling many to leave public assistance and become taxpaying citizens; and

WHEREAS, Florida’s Disability Mentoring Day is hosted on October 15th which provides mentoring and job shadowing employment opportunities for students and job seekers with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, Florida joins the rest of the Nation in recognizing the contributions of the 5.7 million Floridians with disabilities by celebrating October 2014, as Disability Employment Awareness Month with the theme Abilities Work.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida do hereby recognize October 2014, as


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Family Care Council Wins Award

On July 23, The Family Care Council Suncoast Region was honored with the Tom Ulvenes Outstanding Community Service Award at the Annual ADA Disability EXPO Advocacy Awards Ceremony and Community Forum. The event was hosted by the Alliance for Citizens with Disabilities Hillsborough County.

The award is given for outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the Hillsborough County community through courageous advocacy, education, and diligent persistence in pursuing goals which improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

“This was a great honor for all Family Care Council Members, this award will reside in the Regional APD Office in Tampa for all of us. It means a lot for the entire Suncoast Region Family Care Council to be recognized,” said Family Care Council Florida Chair Pauline Lipps.

Family Care Council members Nancy Simmons, Patricia Oglesby, Ann Graybeal, Joanna Rydzewski, Kathy Colombrito, and Peter Ciccarello also attended the event.


Check out this story and more – in The Champion newsletter!

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An Amazing Bank Teller by James Vidrine

Rachel Doeble is a determined young woman who pursues her personal and career goals, and achieves them. Her career in the banking industry began in 2004, and she has been working full-time since June 2011 at Regions Bank in North Naples.

Doeble receives services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) in Naples.

She is married to her husband, John, and with his three children from a previous marriage, plus her young daughter, they created a large family with four children. She truly has full days.

Things have not always been this bright for Doeble. She entered this world as a three month premature infant. At her birth, she tipped the scale at less than three pounds. She spent the first six weeks of her life in the hospital, gaining weight and increasing her strength, so she could go home.

Doeble’s parents, however, soon noticed problems with her development. In her 15th month, her pediatrician broke the difficult news to her parents. Her delayed development was due to cerebral palsy. This news, although a shock, did not deter them whatsoever. Her parents worked with her at home to master the developmental skills that other toddlers and preschool children seemed to achieve without effort.

When Doeble entered kindergarten, the work she and her parents had engaged in for years paid off handsomely. Rachel was able to walk independently, with some difficulty at times, but without the need for a wheelchair. She was described by others at school, as a very friendly and a likeable youngster, with excellent cognitive and vocabulary skills. Her teachers also noted she could be stubborn at times.

Perhaps it was her stubbornness that contributed to her ongoing ability to engage the world with a positive attitude and determination to succeed. Doeble recalls, “As a child I had difficulty maneuvering around in school. I had to learn how to ask for help when I needed it, but also how to decline offers for assistance that I did not need or want.”

Doeble’s positive and caring attitude and her determination to succeed have not gone unnoticed by her supervisors at Regions Bank. Her direct supervisor, Head Teller Kathy Wessling describes Rachel’s work as amazing and fabulous. She depends on Rachel as her right hand at work. Wessling said, “Rachel is a very inspiring person. For someone that has a disability, she does not hold back on what she needs to do or what she wants to do. She has no fear.” Bank Manager Todd Ruggeri adds, “Rachel has the best outlook on life. She never gets upset or discouraged.”

APD Human Services Counselor Jose Delvalle is Doeble’s Support Coordinator. Delvalle said, “When I first met Rachel, I saw a person who wants to achieve her goals. She is a capable and an independent person who can handle any situation with thoughtfulness.”

Doeble is a living a success story. Not only does she work full-time as a bank teller, but she is also a wife, mother, step-mother, and provides a loving home for her family. Doeble wants to encourage others that have a disability to be persistent and persevere through difficulties and roadblocks, to reach their dreams. Doeble said, “Don’t let negative thoughts get in your way. Play to your own strengths and this will assist you. Never be afraid to ask for help, especially at your workplace.”

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People First! Advocate Award

The Ridge Area Arc’s People First! Advocate Award honors an individual, group or organization which consistently demonstrate a leadership role in the advocacy of people with developmental disabilities. Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) Employment Liaison Jenny Sykes was presented with the Advocate Award on May 16 in Avon Park. Ridge Area Arc CEO Rhonda Beckman said “She is an exemplary advocate for APD customers throughout Hardee, Highlands, and Polk counties.”

Sykes coordinates multiple activities of agencies, service organizations, businesses, and providers to champion, educate, and promote hiring practices that target individuals with developmental disabilities. She works very closely with Ridge Area Arc’s supported employment staff to identify barriers and various misconceptions that employers may have about hiring individuals with disabilities.

Sykes also works to facilitate open lines of communication with family members and other natural supports of APD customers so they understand the Social Security Work Incentives and benefits are still retained. It goes without saying that her tenacity has paid off. She has provided the foundation to cultivate new business partnerships, develop community awareness, and helped employers understand the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.

Jenny Sykes wins award

Jenny Sykes wins award

Jenny Sykes is recognized by the Arc

Jenny Sykes is recognized by the Arc

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National Fireworks Safety Month

It’s July; time for BBQs, ice cream, family vacations, and fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Satefy Commission, there were about 9,600 fireworks related injuries during the Fourth of July holiday in 2011.  Help your family and friends avoid the potential dangers of fireworks by following these common sense guidelines:

  • Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.
  • Use fireworks as directed on consumer product safety label; never alter products.
  • Observe local laws and use good common sense.
  • Have a designated shooter to organize and shoot your family show.
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities.
  • Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • NEVER carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  • Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.


For more information on fireworks safety and to view a safety video, please visit http://fireworkssafety.org/.

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Increases for ADT and Group Home Providers

Some Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) customers and providers will see a financial increase beginning July 1.  APD group home providers will receive a $40 per person increase for room and board. Also, APD customers will receive a $40 increase in their Personal Needs Allowance if living in an APD-licensed homes. The rates were last increased in 2008.

Adult day training providers will receive about a two percent increase in their rates for serving APD customers starting July 1. This increase was approved by the Legislature in May. For additional information regarding the rate increases, contact your APD Regional Office.


To view more stories from the July issue of The Champion visit us online at: http://apdcares.org/champion/

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Safety Month; Slips, Trips and Falls

Admit it; we’ve all done it.  We’ve all had slips, trips, and falls that resulted in hilarious stories for friends.  Unfortunately, those same incidents can also result in serious injury.  The risk of falling, and fall related injuries, increases with age.

Take a moment to evaluate your home and reduce as many hazards as possible.  Using the following tips you can potentially prevent falls and injuries this summer:

  • Secure electrical and phone cords out of traffic areas
  • Remove small throw rugs or use non-skid mats to keep them from slipping
  • Remove tripping hazards (paper, boxes, toys, clothes, shoes) from stairs and walkways
  • Periodically check the condition of walkways and steps, and repair damages immediately
  • Never stand on a chair, table, or other surface on wheels
  • Clean up all spills immediately

For more information and tips, please visit: http://www.nsc.org/

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Grandparents May Now Join Family Care Councils — Stakeholders Applaud Addition

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed legislation that expands the membership of Family Care Councils (FCC) to now include grandparents. There are 15 FCCs around the state that advise the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). FCCs are made up of self-advocates, parents, siblings, guardians, and now grandparents who are appointed by Governor Scott. Governor Scott has appointed or reappointed 99 Family Care Council members since taking office.

APD relies on the FCCs to share information and support all families throughout the state. The membership works each and every day to collaborate on issues and encourage independence for agency customers.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I thank our FCC bill sponsors, Senator Nancy Detert and Representative Jose Felix Diaz, who supported this measure and made sure it was passed during the Legislative session. I also want to thank Governor Scott for his continued support of our FCCs. Our Family Care Councils are vital to APD. They share with us their concerns and issues that affect our customers in their local communities.”

Senator Nancy Detert said, “I was happy to sponsor the FCC bill, and am very pleased my fellow senators agreed to support it. I believe grandparents are an integral part of families, and should have a role in helping to advise APD on issues affecting loved ones with developmental disabilities. Now that Governor Scott has signed the measure into law, I hope many grandparents volunteer to serve on the 15 FCCs all over the state and begin sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience to benefit our citizens with developmental disabilities.”

Representative Jose Felix Diaz said, “It was a great pleasure to work with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities on this good bill that will allow grandparents to become more involved in advocating for individuals with developmental disabilities through their membership on Family Care Councils. I consider it a priority of mine to work towards the well-being of these vulnerable individuals and I am humbled to have been a part of this effort.”

Family Care Council (FCC) Florida incoming Chairperson Pauline Lipps said, “I thank Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for supporting the expansion of membership for the Family Care Councils to now include grandparents. The FCCs have an important role in advising APD and advocating for families. Grandparents have a vital role in families and we are very appreciative of them being allowed to join the FCC’s in the future.”

“Grandparents are an important part of the fabric of the developmental disabilities community,” said Deborah Linton, chief executive officer of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “We are pleased to see them included in the Family Care Council.”

“The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) thanks Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for recognizing the important role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren and that these grandparents can now be actively involved in influencing and shaping the Agency for Persons with Disabilities’ policies and resources that are dedicated to serving their grandchildren. The new legislation is a win-win for all involved and will bring wisdom and experience to the table for Florida’s Family Care Councils,” said Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Executive Director Suzanne Sewell.

“The Association of Support Coordinators is very pleased that Governor Scott and the Legislature have broadened the scope of Family Care Councils to include grandparents. It’s crucial that individuals with disabilities receive the full benefit of interaction presented by an extended family. With more Floridians living longer and more active lifestyles than ever before, and many already functioning as primary caregivers, our grandparents present an active and vital natural source of support. The voice of these grandparents can now be heard through the Family Care Councils,” said the Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida Chairperson Janice Phillips.