Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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WHAT THEY ARE SAYING…Stakeholders Praise Gov. Scott’s Budget

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Rick Scott signed the Keep Florida Working Budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016. It invests $1.2 billion to support people with disabilities so they may live and participate in their local communities. It includes $40 million to enroll more than 2,000 people from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiting list into the iBudget Florida Medicaid waiver so they may receive ongoing services. The budget also includes $1 million dollars to help people with disabilities receive on-the-job training and internships so they are able to land a permanent job.  Here’s what disability advocates are saying about the budget:

Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) Director Barbara Palmer said, “We are very excited about the budget for the coming year. I thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for their continued leadership and support of individuals with disabilities in our state. This is the third year that APD has received funding to serve people on the waiting list. This money will allow those with immediate needs to enroll into the Medicaid waiver. I appreciate Governor Scott’s confidence in APD and the people we serve.”

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Pauline Lipps said, “We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for continuing to reduce the APD waiting list of individuals with developmental disabilities across the state. We are grateful that an additional $40 million will serve more than 2,000 people in need of community services. We are also pleased that $1 million will go toward employment programs for individuals with developmental disabilities who need additional assistance on the job.”

Parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida Betty Kay Clements, said, “I am pleased about Governor Scott’s 2015-16 Keep Florida Working Budget and how it strongly supports people with disabilities. With $1million for the Employment Enhancement Project, APD will be able to continue to support the employment contributions that individuals with developmental disabilities can make as they highlight their many abilities. Individuals who have received APD support for employment say they are proud to work and make a difference in their communities.”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida chairperson Janice Phillipssaid, “We are thrilled with the 2015-16 Keep Florida Working Budget that provides an $8 million rate increase to waiver support coordinators.  We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for this much needed increase to these front line workers who advocate for people with developmental disabilities. This critical increase will help keep these dedicated and diligent professionals out in their communities working to assist individuals with disabilities so they are successful in reaching their goals.”

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Debra Dowds said, “We appreciate Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for their continued support to address the needs of Floridians with developmental disabilities. This additional funding will allow many more people with developmental disabilities on the APD waiting list to be offered waiver enrollment and to receive employment services so they may be independent and meaningfully participate in their communities.”

The Arc of Florida Chief Executive Officer Deborah Linton said, “The Arc of Florida is grateful for the ​opportunity​ to help end pain and suffering for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the dental funding provided in the Florida budget. ​I​n addition, we appreciate the opportunity to once again serve more individuals off of the waiting list and to continue our pursuit of better quality affordable housing through funding​ approved​ in the budget.”


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Governor Rick Scott Appoints Twelve to Family Care Councils

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced ten appointments and two reappointments to Family Care Councils across the state.

Area Two, Family Care Council
John Chafin, 78, of Tallahassee, was the former Leon County Tax Collector from 1980-2001. He succeeds David Norton and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending October 11, 2016.

Area Four, Family Care Council
Shiela Bryant Butler, 52, of Middleburg, is the president of Black Creek Supports and Services Inc. She succeeds Maria Quinones and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending August 6, 2016.

Area Eight, Family Care Council
Barbara Jamison, 59, of Cape Coral, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She succeeds Susan Robertson and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending August 27, 2016.

Patricia Oglesby, 54, of Fort Myers, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She is reappointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending August 24, 2017.

Area Nine, Family Care Council
Ruthie Bunkelmann, 52, of North Palm Beach, is a social worker with Pediatric Partners and Positive Behavior Supports Corporation. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending March 19, 2018.

Terri Harmon, 56, of Boca Raton, is the executive director of Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending March 19, 2018.

Elaine Scola, 63, of Lake Worth, is a partner at Equity Financial Services LLC. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending March 19, 2018.

Martha Stuart, 63, of Lake Worth, is a retired teacher for Chariho Regional Schools. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending March 19, 2018.

Area Twelve, Family Care Council
Christopher Spears, 40, of Ormond Beach, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending March 19, 2018.

Joseph Young, 44, of Ormond Beach, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending March 19, 2018.

Mary Ellen Ottman, 60, of Ormond Beach, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She succeeds Susan Tanner and is appointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending January 23, 2017.

Area Fourteen, Family Care Council
Michael Daniels, 48, of Lakeland, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He is reappointed for a term beginning March 20, 2015, and ending June 29, 2017.


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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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WHAT THEY ARE SAYING…

Florida Leaders and Families Applaud Gov. Scott’s Proposed $8 Million for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Additional $5 Million for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced a proposed investment of $8 million to enroll all individuals with critical needs from the waiting list to the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver Program. This is the second year in a row that funding is provided to remove all individuals with critical needs from the waiting list. Governor Scott’s 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget also recommends an increase of $5 million, for a total of $23.4 million, for personal learning scholarship accounts for eligible K-12 students with disabilities.

Barbara Palmer, Director of Agency for Persons with Disabilities, “This is the third year in a row that Governor Scott has recommended funding to serve Floridians with disabilities on the APD waiting list, and it is the second year that we will be able to offer waiver enrollment to everyone with critical needs. This is wonderful news for individuals who will now be able to receive services in their own community.”

Pam Stewart, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education said, “I applaud Governor Scott for proposing increased funding for personal learning scholarships. Florida parents want their children to have every opportunity for success, and these additional funds will enable eligible K-12 students with disabilities to get the best education possible.”

 Doug Tuthill, President of Step Up For Students said, “Tomorrow’s leaders are in today’s classrooms, and I am thrilled that Governor Scott’s ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ Budget includes increased funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts. Parents know their children best and have the greatest understanding of what services meet their child’s needs. It is wonderful that more parents will have the opportunity to create customized education plans to ensure their children have the greatest chance at success.”

Patricia Levesque, Executive Director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future said, “Florida children with unique abilities face some of the biggest obstacles on their path to education success. Governor Scott is showing his commitment to providing these students with a high-quality education by proposing increased funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts. This will allow more parents of eligible students with special needs to customize their children’s education in a way that best meets their learning needs.”

Betty Kay Clements, Past Chair of Family Care Council Florida said, “As a parent of a daughter with a disability and an advocate for other families in similar situations, I am happy to see Governor Scott’s recommendation for additional funding to continue to move people off the waiting list and onto the Medicaid waiver. The waiver truly helps to change lives by providing needed services to individuals with developmental disabilities, and are able to live full and happy lives in their local communities.”

Janice Phillips, Chair for the Association of Support Coordination Agencies in Florida said, “We appreciate Governor Scott’s continued understanding of the issues facing Floridians with developmental disabilities. Providing money to move individuals with critical needs off the waiting list is an important priority, and I am very thankful that it is a priority of Governor Scott and his administration as well.”

Lou Ogburn, Area 2 Family Care Council Chairperson said, “We applaud Governor Scott for his ongoing efforts to reduce the size of the Medicaid waiver waiting list. It is great news that the needed funding amount is available to eliminate the waiting list for the second year in a row. These families can be assured that their loved ones will be taken care of and receive the necessary services they need in the future.”

Sherry Wheelock, President and CEO of Special Olympics Florida said, “Special Olympics Florida applauds Governor Scott’s recommendation of increased funding that would ensure the well-being of Floridians with developmental disabilities. These investments are vital for individuals with disabilities to actively participate in their communities and achieve their dreams.”

Pauline Lipps, Chair of Family Care Council Florida said, “I am pleased to see funding for the waiting list three years in a row.  Families need the Medicaid waiver to help their loved ones thrive in their local communities. The waiver provides essential services so individuals with developmental disabilities are able to live and work just like everyone else. With this additional funding, everyone with critical needs on the waiting list will be offered waiver services which will be life-changing for those families.”

Georgia Dorsett LoCastro, Person with a disability and an APD employee said, “I think it is great that additional people with disabilities will be able to receive services in their own community. I thank Governor Scott for recommending more money to help individuals with developmental disabilities so they can go to work just like me.”

Michelle Favret, parent of a special needs child said, “Governor Scott’s proposed increase in funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts is great news for our family. The PLSA program has been a huge help for my daughter, and Governor Scott’s proposed funding increase will help our family, and others across the state, even further.”

Jeanine Schiavoni, parent of a special needs child said, “As a parent of a child with special needs, I am so thankful to Governor Scott for prioritizing students with disabilities in his ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ Budget.  For many years our family has worked so hard to provide all of the necessary accommodations, resources and therapies in order for our child to be as successful as possible in school and in everyday life. We have provided speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, social thinking therapy, physical therapy, tutoring, extracurricular activities, along with a special education program which provides a more one on one learning environment.  All of these accommodations have led us to where we are today. This Scholarship will enable our child to continue to be provided a smaller learning environment, including the necessary therapies and accommodations that go along with his particular needs. We are very grateful for this Personal Learning Scholarship. Governor Scott’s proposed funding increase for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts will help ensure my child has access to the resources he needs to be successful in school and in life.  I am glad more families like mine will be able to receive additional funding to help their children reach their full potential.”

Melissa Ward, parent of a special needs child said, “I think it’s really exciting that Governor Scott is proposing increased funding for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts. Thanks to the PLSA program our son, Ethan, is now able to receive therapy we used to have to put on the back burner. The PLSA program is a huge blessing for our family, and I am thrilled that Governor Scott’s proposal will help special needs children all across Florida receive the academic help they need.”


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Governor Rick Scott Appoints Eight to Family Care Councils

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced six appointments and two reappointments to Family Care Councils across the state.

Area Seven, Family Care Council

Jackie Aikens, 56, of Lake Mary, is a retired senior software engineer with the McKesson Corporation. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending April 5, 2015.

Area Nine, Family Care Council

Kevis Jones, 43, of Delray Beach, is an assembler for the Palm Beach Rehabilitation Center. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending December 18, 2017.

Chantal Hyppolite, 61, of Boca Raton, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She succeeds Robert Gardner and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending July 1, 2016.

 Area Ten, Family Care Council

Jeannette Hand, 55, of Plantation, is real estate agent with ARG Realty. She succeeds Patrice Laurie and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending August 26, 2017.

Lynda Olds, 45, of Cooper City, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She succeeds Denise Crosnick and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending August 26, 2017.

Gilda Pacheco, 66, of Miramar, is a retired teacher and administrator with Dade County Public Schools. She is reappointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending June 29, 2017.

Area Thirteen, Family Care Council

Troy Davidson, 47, of Inverness, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending December 11, 2016.

Caroline Short, 72, of Bushnell, is a retired licensed massage therapist. She is reappointed for a term beginning December 19, 2014, and ending April 30, 2017.


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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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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

DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH