Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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The Champion, November Issue

November is a time when people begin thinking about delicious turkey, dressing, and all the other wonderful food associated with Thanksgiving Day in America. It is also a time when I think about all the things I am thankful for in my personal and professional life.

Here at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) we have much for which to be thankful. We had a very successful October celebrating Disability Employment Awareness Month. We had a great event recognizing businesses that are committed to hiring people with disabilities (see story below). There were Disability Mentoring Day activities around the state too. I enjoy talking to and reading about our customers’ successes on the job. It is another great reason why we do what we do.

Working with our stakeholders, APD has been able to offer waiver enrollment to 1,200 people this year. I am extremely thankful to Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature for recommending and supporting the $20 million in additional money so we could enroll new individuals into the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waiver. Added to the $36 million the agency received last fiscal year to offer enrollment to 1,600 people, we have been able to see tremendous movement in people moving off the APD Medicaid waiver waiting list.

This year, Florida became the first state in the country to offer reciprocity to military members being transferred to Florida who have a family member receiving waiver services in another state. We are now able to provide continuity of services to those family members who in the past would have gone on the waiting list when moving to Florida. Addressing the needs of people on the waiting list is a top priority of mine, so these successes make me thankful.

Certainly, the agency has had numerous challenges. We have been able to overcome them and continue to move forward. Our job is to ensure that people with developmental disabilities have the services they need to participate in their local communities. We all know there is more demand than resources. With all of us working together, we have been able to meet the agency’s mission. Success is a team sport, so thank you for all that you do to ensure the success of Floridians with developmental disabilities.

I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

–Director Barbara Palmer

For more stories from The Champion, please visit http://apdcares.org/champion/


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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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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.

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Exceptional Employers 2012

We recognized seven exceptional Florida employers this morning at our annual Exceptional Employer awards ceremony.  And what an event it was!  We were absolutely thrilled with the number of people who participated in our event this morning.  We had several wonderful speakers including APD Director Barbara Palmer, Florida Governor Rick Scott, Stacey Powell, an APD client and Sonic employee, Tallahassee Mayor John Marks, and Sue Homant, President and CEO of Able Trust.  Able Trust is a direct support organization of Vocational Rehabilitation.  They provide grants to people with disabilities who want to work.

The seven honored businesses for 2012 are: 

Baptist Health South Florida (Miami)

Baptist Health South Florida (BHSF) realizes that employees are its greatest asset in accomplishing their mission with more than 105 people with disabilities on the payroll. BHSF is committed to learning about, mentoring, and employing people with developmental disabilities. Baptist has participated in Disability Mentoring Day for the past 3 years and has allowed 34 people to conduct job shadowing. Additionally, this year the hospital hosted four paid interns for 16 weeks. At the end of the internship, the hospital hired one of those individuals to join its permanent workforce.

Habitat for Humanity (Pasco County)

One way Habitat for Humanity raises money to build housing is through its Re-Stores, which sell donated home improvement goods, furniture, building materials, and appliances. This organization has gone above and beyond in making sure its seven employees with disabilities are welcomed and accommodated in its Re-Stores.  They ensured their new building was wheelchair accessible when relocating so an employee would not have any issues maneuvering through the building.

Mangrove Mike’s Café (Islamorada)

This business has a strong and deep commitment to having people with disabilities working at the restaurant. The owner, Mike Forster, brought some of his employees with him from the keys to help him accept the award, including Jack Atkinson, who receives services from the Monroe Association of Remarkable Citizens.  Over the years, the restaurant has helped 12 individuals with disabilities go to work.  Forster will be the keynote speaker for the Upper Keys celebration of Disability Mentoring Day this month.

Miller’s Ale House (Daytona Beach)

This restaurant has four employees with disabilities of the nearly 50 individuals on its payroll—that is almost 10 percent of employees have disabilities. Most of these people have visual disabilities and work as silverware rollers. This employer has developed job opportunities to capitalize on the employee’s talents, and they have also made accommodations when needed.

Pensacola Blue Wahoos

This new minor league baseball team began including people with disabilities in its workforce when it began hiring people in April for various positions.  The organization already has five individuals with disabilities on its payroll, with one gentleman with Autism being featured in the news recently due to his excellent customer service as a ticket taker at the ball park. All individuals were included in employee activities and meetings. This employer worked with each individual to remove any barriers that may exist.

Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center (St. Pete)

Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center of St. Petersburg currently employs 11 people with disabilities. The hotel partners with Vincent House which helps individuals with mental health issues enter the workforce. Sirata Beach Resort has employed more than 26 people with disabilities in the past four years. This business has a dedicated commitment to help those with disabilities go to work.

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resortin Orlando hires many, many people with all types of disabilities in its workforce of 12,000. Universal ensures that proper accommodations are made, including having on staff American Sign Language Interpreters for employees with hearing loss. Universal purchased a video relay interpreting service and placed it at high traffic areas for guests and team members if an ASL interpreter was not immediately available. They have exceeded expectations with assisting people with visual disabilities, with more than a dozen people with vision loss hired in the past five years.

If you missed our Tallahassee event this morning you can check out tomorrow (October 19) at http://thefloridachannel.org/.   Enjoy!