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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Governor Scott Announces Elimination of Critical Needs Waitlist for Persons with Disabilities

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced all individuals with critical needs who have been on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiting list as of July 1 will be offered enrollment in the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver. Approximately 1,200 individuals will receive enrollment letters from APD in the next two weeks.

 

Governor Scott said, “We’re committed to providing every Florida family the opportunity to live the American Dream – and this year’s It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget invested another $20 million to move all remaining individuals with critical needs off of the waiting list, which is the first time this has happened in the history of the agency. 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.”

 

These individuals join about 1,600 people who were offered waiver services last fiscal year. Additionally, the agency will continue to enroll foster children with developmental disabilities into the waiver that are adopted or reunified with family members.

 

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am so happy the agency is able to keep moving people off the waiting list so they may receive waiver services in their communities. I thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for this important funding for the waiting list and their support of our agency. We are making a difference in people’s lives.”

 

After individuals accept the HCBS Medicaid waiver enrollment, they must select a waiver support coordinator who will work with them to develop a plan to address needed services. APD customers also select which waiver providers they want to deliver their services.


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Governor Rick Scott Appoints Thirteen to Family Care Councils Across Florida

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today announced four appointments and nine reappointments to Family Care Councils across the state.

 Area One, Family Care Council

Deborah Moore, 41, of Pensacola, is an engineer specialist with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending June 15, 2014.

John Collins, 34, of Pensacola, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He is reappointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending September 14, 2015.

Dina Justice, 46, of Pensacola, is the owner of Justice Marketing Group. She is reappointed for a term beginning June 16, 2014, and ending June 15, 2017.

Daniel “Danny” Parker, 56, of Pace, is a pipeline operations tech with the Florida Gas Transmission Company. He is reappointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending June 17, 2015.

Area Two, Family Care Council

Elizabeth Burr, 52, of Tallahassee, is a paraprofessional with Leon County Schools. She is reappointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending September 23, 2016.

Area Six, Family Care Council

Ann Graybeal, 66, of Sarasota, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She is reappointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending July 7, 2016.

Area Seven, Family Care Council

Daniel Bayley, 41, of Palm Bay, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He is reappointed for a term beginning June 30, 2014, and ending June 29, 2017.

Area Nine, Family Care Council

Cindy Donelson, 56, of Lake Worth, is a senior communications specialist with Florida Power and Light. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending April 27, 2017.

Karen Oberg, 75, of Lake Worth, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She succeeds Veronica Pappas and is appointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending September 14, 2015.

Area Fourteen, Family Care Council

Brenda Taggart, 42, of Lakeland, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She succeeds Sherre Crouse and is appointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending August 28, 2014.

Area Fifteen, Family Care Council

 Heather Bohlander-Misner, 37, of Port St. Lucie, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She is reappointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending October 4, 2016.

Andrew Magnolia, 53, of Port St. Lucie, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He is reappointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending October 4, 2016.

Chantai Snellgrove, 48, of Vero, is the editorial director for Parenting Special Needs Magazine. She is reappointed for a term beginning April 28, 2014, and ending October 4, 2016.


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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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Cabinet to Declare Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Governor to Recognize Gulf Coast Enterprises

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Attorney General Pam Bondi will introduce a resolution at the Florida Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, March 18, declaring the month of March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Florida.

Representatives from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Family Care Council, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, The Arc of Florida, and the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities will be there to accept the resolution.

Cheryl Govea, a parent of a child with developmental disabilities, will address Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on the importance of funding community services for people with disabilities.

In addition, Governor Scott will present his Business Ambassador Award to Gulf Coast Enterprises for the company’s longstanding commitment to employing hundreds of people with disabilities at military bases throughout the state.

The Cabinet meeting will begin at 8 a.m. in the Cabinet meeting room on the lower level of the Capitol Building.

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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GOV. SCOTT: MORE THAN HALF OF INDIVIDUALS WITH CRITICAL NEEDS MOVE OFF APD WAIVER WAITING LIST

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Governor Rick Scott today announced approximately 1,600 people, up from an estimated 750 people, will be moved off the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver waiting list. This is the first time that more than half of individuals with critical needs will be moved off of the APD waiver waiting list. Earlier this year, Governor Scott announced that $36 million in funding in his Florida Families First budget would help approximately 750 individuals to be moved off of the waiting list and be offered services through the waiver. That number is now expected to reach approximately 1,600, covering more than half of the individuals on the waiting list that have critical needs.

Governor Scott said, “In March, we were thrilled to commit $36 million to move 750 people with disabilities off of the APD waiver waiting list. Today’s announcement that our investment will help approximately 1,600 individuals –up from 750 individuals- receive the services they need is great news for Florida families. This will also be the first time that more than half of the individuals with critical needs will be moved off of the APD waiver waiting list. Our goal is to create an opportunity economy in Florida that supports jobs for generations to come. Our $36 million investment in APD will ensure our most vulnerable population will receive needed services and allow many to develop skills to help them find a job and live their American Dream.”

Governor Rick Scott recommended and the Florida Legislature supported including $36 million in the Florida Families First budget to serve people currently on the APD waiver waiting list. APD hosted two stakeholder meetings to develop the criteria to enroll those with the greatest needs with the new funding.

The Florida Families First budget also included 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.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am excited we have the ability to move additional people off the waiting list, and for these individuals to begin receiving waiver services in their communities. I appreciate Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for this needed funding for the waiting list and their support of our agency. We are truly changing lives for the better.”

Debra Dowds, Executive Director of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, said, “This is indeed a great year for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. So many more people who are in desperate need of services will be offered waiver enrollment than initially anticipated. This is a very positive step to help reduce and hopefully one day, eliminate the waiting list for people with disabilities who live and work in Florida. We are very appreciative to Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for their support to address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.”

Janice Phillips, Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida said, “A great tribute to Governor Scott and the Legislature that the funding they allocated to individuals with disabilities on the waiting list has been maximized to serve additional people. We are very excited to learn that additional people with developmental disabilities on the waiting list will be receiving services.” 

 

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Governor Rick Scott Appoints Eleven to Family Care Councils

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced seven appointments and four reappointments to Family Care Councils across the state.

Area Four, Family Care Council

Alphonso “Al” Carter, 78, of Jacksonville, is a retired mathematics instructor. He succeeds Melina Willaford and is appointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending July 2, 2015.

Laura Edmunds, 35, of Jacksonville, is a job developer with Duval County Public Schools. She succeeds Gerald Aveson and is appointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending April 5, 2015.

Anita “Lynn” Ellis, 65, of White Springs, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending November 17, 2016.

Mary Smith, 55, of Orange Park, is the owner of PCA Plus Inc. She is reappointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending August 6, 2016.

Melinda Morrison, 56, of Jacksonville, is a nurse care coordinator with Children’s Medical Services. She is reappointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending August 20, 2016.

Area Six, Family Care Council

John Bodack, 32, of Tampa, is a bagger at Publix. He is reappointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending September 10, 2016.

Area Twelve, Family Care Council

Fred Azua, 70, of Palm Coast, is a retired regional director for the US Department of Labor. He succeeds Sylvia Danese and is appointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending January 23, 2014.

Karl Martin, 36, of Deltona, is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He succeeds Mary Muldowney and is appointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending March 29, 2016.

Area Fourteen, Family Care Council

Laura Tacinelli, 51, of Lakeland, is senior accounting tax representative with Lockheed Martin. She succeeds Young Holley and is appointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending May 29, 2016.

Melissa Miller, 37, of Lakeland, is the chair of Polk County ESE Advisory Council. She is reappointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending October 11, 2016.

Area Fifteen, Family Care Council

Lisa McGlone, 50, of Stuart, is a personal care assistant at the Agency for Persons with Disabilites. She is reappointed for a term beginning November 18, 2013, and ending January 13, 2016.

 

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