Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

Connecting you to the community.

Leave a comment

Meaningful Work A Priority

By Director Barbara Palmer

One of the top priorities of the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is to help people with developmental disabilities find employment. APD customers tell us they want to be able to find and keep a job just like anyone else. The agency provides services, like job coaching, to ensure that individuals are able to keep their positions for the long term.

October is when the entire nation focuses on employment opportunities for people with disabilities because it is Disability Employment Awareness Month. Florida’s theme for the month is Abilities Work.  On September 23, Governor Scott and the Cabinet declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Florida.

This past year, Governor Rick Scott recommended and the Florida Legislature supported providing $500,000 for on-the-job training and internships. These dollars helped 170 people find jobs or internships, many for the first time. These opportunities to learn job skills are invaluable. Additionally, APD has more than 3,500 of its customers who are successfully working.  When people with disabilities are working they are relying less on others to meet their needs. Anyone who is working feels more valued and better about themselves. It is a smart investment.

APD customer Rachel Caylor has worked at a Pensacola Walmart for seven years. Caylor recently moved up to a cashier position, which was her goal. Caylor’s Supervisor, Shalawn Kennedy, was impressed with Caylor’s persistence and willingness to volunteer to help as a cashier so they offered her the permanent cashier position. Kennedy said, “Rachel has a great work ethic. She is an all-around girl because she is knowledgeable about a lot of areas. She is reliable and dependable. Rachel does what is asked of her, then more. She is also great with customers.”

Individuals just want a chance to prove themselves to a willing employer. APD works in partnership with the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program to provide support that the individual and the employer may need to ensure a successful job match.

I hope to see more people with disabilities finding long-term careers, like Caylor. We need companies that are willing to provide job opportunities to all people who are qualified and able to perform the work. I want to assure you that APD, VR, Blind Services, Department of Economic Opportunity, Veterans’ Affairs, and other programs are here to help your organization make the best job match. And we will be there in the future should either party need assistance. We want the partnership to be a win-win for everyone involved and your organization to have a dedicated employee, just like Rachel Caylor.


To read the rest of the October edition of The Champion visit our website  at http://apdcares.org/champion/


Leave a comment

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/

Leave a comment

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/

Leave a comment

Fanning Springs Disability Expo

I sincerely hope you were able to attend the Fanning Springs Disability Expo on May 10.  Event attendees enjoyed live music, dancing, and inclusive sports.  There were so many organizations there including Special Olympics, Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, Florida State Parks, FAAST, Vocational Rehabilitation, and so many more.  Participants were also able to enjoy arts and crafts, a sack lunch, and a dental screening provided by Special Olympics.


DSC_5432 DSC_5455 DSC_5468 DSC_5673 DSC_5496 DSC_5508 DSC_5538 DSC_5551 DSC_5639 DSC_5794 DSC_5699 DSC_5726 DSC_5740

Leave a comment

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).



Leave a comment

Nominate an Exceptional Employer Today!

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities is looking for businesses that are committed to employing individuals with disabilities. The agency is accepting nominations of outstanding businesses from across the state until August 23. To submit a nomination, visit APDcares.org to complete the form. APD and other disability agencies will recognize the winning employers on Wednesday, October 9. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The awards event will be held at the Tallahassee City Commission Chambers, 300 South Adams Street. Information displays will be in the Second Floor Mezzanine beginning at 8:30. The employer recognition will begin at 9:30 a.m. Some of the organizations participating are Vocational Rehabilitation, Blind Services, Able Trust, Veterans’ Affairs, City of Tallahassee, and the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Leave a comment

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:



Leave a comment

APD Kicks off Town Hall Meetings

TALLAHASSEE —The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) and the Family Care Councils are hosting Town Hall style meetings throughout the state. APD Director Barbara Palmer will present a state of the agency, then lead a question and answer session with attendees. Palmer wants to engage in dialogue with APD customers, stakeholders, waiver support coordinators, providers, and others to update the agency’s strategic plan for the next five years.

Director Palmer said, “I want to hear about things our agency should focus on in the future.  I especially want to hear from individuals and families who are served by APD on their issues, concerns, and successes.  After spending many weeks on the road, I hope to create a better APD and a brighter future for all the people we serve.”

APD will begin its Town Hall meetings in the Tampa area with two meetings.

  • June 27 from 6-8 p.m.

All Peoples Life Center
6105 East Sligh Avenue
Tampa  33617

  • June 28 from 10a.m.-noon

Disability Achievement Center
12552 Belcher Road South
Largo  33773

Director Palmer will share an update on the approved Florida Families First budget.  As a result of session, APD is receiving $36 million to enroll people from the waiting list onto the Developmental Disabilities Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver beginning July 1.

To find out the latest schedule of APD Town Hall meetings, visit APDCares.org.  Director Palmer hopes to 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.


Town Hall Post Card