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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SaintPetersBlog by Peter Schorsch Ignores the Facts

Claim: “Florida’s Medicaid waiver program for persons with disabilities, iBudget Florida, has hit multiple snags and as many lawsuits in its slow implementation since being created by the Legislature in 2010.”

Fact: The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) formed a stakeholder workgroup to design and plan the implementation of the iBudget Florida waiver and these meetings occurred over a two year period. Jim Freyvogel, president and CEO of the MacDonald Training Center, Inc., was a member of the stakeholder workgroup. The iBudget waiver began in April 2012 and will be completed on July 1, 2013.  The agency implementation requires significant training for agency employees, families, waiver support coordinators, and service providers. Therefore, the implementation was not intended to be completed statewide in one quick process.  The agency also conducted reviews for any individual who may have received a reduction in funding. These reviews take time and are critical to ensure the health and safety needs of the person are met.

 

Claim: “For some, these cuts mean losing adult day training, in which skills are learned a social setting, or lose essential transportation to these venues.  Although according to APD, only about 10 percent of people who have transitioned to the iBudget have appealed — a rate they consider to be ‘very successful’.”

Fact: Adult day training was specifically included in the extraordinary need calculation for all APD customers during the iBudget transition, as were many other services that are needed to provide for the health and safety of the APD customer in the community. The right to an appeal is always honored by APD.  The 10 percent rate of appeals is below the rate of appeals the agency experienced when implementing the tiers.

 

Claim: Craig Byrd, president and CEO of UCP/WORC in Flagler and Volusia Counties, said, “I believe the reasons for the small percentage of appeals are that individuals with disabilities and their families fear an appeal will cause a further reduction of their funding or they have been told by APD representatives to not waste their time.”

Fact: The agency honors all appeals for due process. No one from APD has indicated otherwise. The iBudget process includes an individual review with each person to discuss the potential reduction and to determine how to best meet the person’s needs using all available resources.

 

Claim: The economic impacts of these changes may be felt beyond the families directly affected. Take for example, the mother of Chad Russell — who at 25 needs help with bathing, dressing and medical treatments and communicates with his team at UCP/WORC using sign language they have learned alongside him — may lose her job working on condo sales if Chad loses his access to adult day training.  While she already pays for the majority of his services as well as medical supplies and diapers, he no longer receives speech, physical or occupational therapy due to cuts.

 Fact: The individual review process takes into account the need for adult day training and therapy services.  All services are available under the iBudget waiver and the individual has complete flexibility to use their funding from iBudget to meet their needs.

 

Claim: “Adult day training is the most effective cost-saving method there is,” said Jim Freyvogel, president and CEO of the MacDonald Training Center, Inc. “These services enable family members to keep their own jobs rather than being home as unpaid caregivers, and prevent people with disabilities from being forced to live outside their own homes. This is a huge cost saver. If Chad is forced to move into a group home it will cost the taxpayers of Florida an additional $45,000 to $50,000 for his care.”

Fact: The agency fully supports the need for adult day training and has recognized its importance in the iBudget funding process.

 

Claim: Florida has worked hard to promote and maintain home and community based care; but many fear that changes under iBudget could erode this progress.

 Fact: Home and community-based care remains the highest priority for APD.

 

Claim: “The method in which APD is implementing iBudgets is undermining the system of natural supports which is the cornerstone of the service delivery system in Florida,” said Freyvogel, whose MacDonald Training Center supplements about 22 percent of the actual cost of care, saving taxpayers what he estimates to be about $1.3 million each year.

 Fact: The iBudget recognizes the critical services and supports families and natural or community supports provide. The iBudget provides funding that is to be used as a last resort to pay for services.  iBudget provides all individuals services that they may have not been able to access under the tier system, such as dental services and therapy services. 

 

Claim: Byrd’s concerns with iBudget also hit upon various administrative issues. Prior to iBudget, clients and service providers would receive an authorization for services for one year, providing the ability to plan and budget accordingly. Yet under iBudget, authorizations are required quarterly. 

Fact: iBudget allows full flexibility for individuals to use the iBudget funding to meet their needs. The iBudget system helps the family in tracking the funding by issuing quarterly service authorizations based on the services that the individual has requested. Quarterly service authorizations allow families to move unspent monies from quarter to quarter allowing individuals to meet their changing needs.

 

Claim: “This means perpetual uncertainty for clients and their families, and from a provider standpoint it is an administrative nightmare,” said Byrd. “iBudget is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Consumer choice is only the PR piece to make the reductions more palatable. It is nothing more than a cost containment system for the state without regard to the needs of Floridian’s with disabilities.”

Fact: The iBudget waiver gives individuals choices on how to spend their taxpayer funding for community services and also provides immediate access to change services as needs change.  This is the essence of the iBudget Florida waiver.

 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.


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iBudget Nearing Completion

TALLAHASSEE — Today, individuals with developmental disabilities in Broward and Palm Beach counties will begin using a new way to manage their services and the dollars used to pay for them. It is called iBudget Florida.

These 3,800 customers will use the iBudget Florida Medicaid waiver to direct and receive Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS). The HCBS waiver is funded by state and federal tax dollars to help people with developmental disabilities remain and participate in their local communities.

These customers join 19,457 other customers who are already enjoying the benefits of iBudget Florida in managing their waiver dollars. More than six months of preparation and training has occurred with customers, families, waiver support coordinators, and providers prior to the implementation.

iBudget Florida is a different way to deliver Medicaid waiver services. It has been approved by both the Florida Legislature and the federal government. iBudget provides greater ability to choose services that matter most to customers given their unique situations. It gives greater flexibility for customers to respond to their changing needs.

The final iBudget implementation will be in Dade and Monroe counties on July 1. In addition, Consumer-Directed Care Plus (CDC+) participants will start using iBudget Florida on July 1.

Many families in North Florida have been using iBudget for more than a year and are happy with how iBudget Florida has given them increased flexibility and improved their self-direction. APD has posted interviews with families on iBudgetFlorida.org. Visit

http://apdcares.org/ibudget/videos.htm to view the testimonials.

iBudget Florida is designed to make the funding process fair and equitable for all Medicaid waiver customers. It has increased opportunities for customers to direct their own care. This system also provides for financial predictability within the waiver.

Some other customer benefits of iBudget Florida are:

· Ability to reallocate funds not spent on services in one month for future service needs within a fiscal year

· Access to dental services that were not available in the tier four waiver

· Greater control to change services or providers to fit the person’s needs

· Support coordinators able to use iBudget technology to reduce paperwork requirements and communicate efficiently with providers and APD, and

· Greater opportunity for APD to use new funds to serve people on the Medicaid waiver waiting list.

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. For more information on iBudget Florida, visit iBudgetFlorida.org. To learn more about the agency, call 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273) or visit APDcares.org.


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GOVERNOR SCOTT ANNOUNCES $36 MILLION FOR APD WAITING LIST

Funding Would Provide Support Services to Additional 750 Individuals with Disabilities

 MIAMI, FL — Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott, surrounded by disability stakeholders in Miami, highlighted his Florida Families First 2013-2014 Budget, which provides $36 million in funding to people on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list. The $36 million increase will allow an additional 750 individuals with critical needs on the waiting list to enroll in the APD Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver so they will receive services in their local communities. Governor Scott made his announcement at the campus of the Association for the Development of the Exceptional (ADE) on North Miami Avenue. At the press conference, the Governor also highlighted a $2.5 million targeted investment through his budget that provides career services to individuals with disabilities that would open up job opportunities to 1,000 people.

 Governor Scott said, “I want to provide each and every Floridian with the opportunity to find a job and pursue their American dream. With this $36 million investment, this is the first time in eight years that funding support is being recommended to help individuals on the waiting list. That means we’ll help families by providing personal care assistance, transportation, adult day training, and other needed services to improve their quality life and find job opportunities.”

 Those with the most critical needs will benefit from this new funding. Currently, there are 22,000 individuals on the waiting list and 30,000 enrolled in the APD Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver.

Governor Scott’s budget proposal also includes about $2.5 million to assist people on the waiver waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work.  The funding will pay for job internships and supported employment job coaches for about 1,000 people with developmental disabilities.

 APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “We so appreciate Governor Scott’s guidance and support of our efforts to improve the agency.  We are extremely excited to be able to serve people on our waiting list and hope the legislature will also see the need.  That has been one of my priorities since coming to the agency. Now we are ready to move forward and promise to be good stewards of these additional tax dollars to benefit individuals with developmental disabilities. Employment opportunities will not only assist individuals to stay self sufficient and prevent the need for waiver services, but will also enhance their quality of life.”

 Many families attended today’s announcement including those who have someone waiting to enroll in the waiver and those who are currently receiving community services. Phil Pearson, waiting list parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida said, “We all have worked very hard to raise the waiting list issue to the point where it is receiving the attention it deserves. APD’s Director Barbara Palmer took on the waiting list personally and made it her issue. Thank you, Governor Scott and Director Palmer. What a great day for Florida’s disability community.”

 Chief Executive Officer of the Association for the Development of the Exceptional (ADE), Inc. Helena Del Monte said, “The great news shared by Governor Rick Scott to increase funding to APD, gives much long awaited hope to customers very much in need of services provided by APD and its provider agencies. This is a testament to Governor Scott’s commitment to our vulnerable population. It humbles me that he chose ADE, Inc., as the venue to make this announcement. On behalf of people with developmental disabilities in Florida and their families, I applaud him.”

 Two Miami families, who recently moved from the waiting list to the HCBS Medicaid waiver, shared their stories with the governor. New adoptive parent Melva Sonera said, “The services provided by the waiver were critical before we were able to welcome five-year-old Ezequiel to our family. The money Governor Scott is recommending will change lives and families for the better.”

 Marina Jaramillo is an aging parent in poor health with a 52-year-old son with several developmental disabilities. “I appreciate Governor Scott helping other families in Florida who find themselves in situations like mine. Knowing my son will be taken care in the future of gives me peace of mind.”

Disability Stakeholders Praise Governor’s Proposed Budget

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Jean Sherman said, “I am delighted and encouraged to learn about Governor Scott’s proposed request to provide funding for waiver services for those individuals on the APD waiting list that are in the most critical need. The ability to receive needed services will be life-changing for these families and this new funding is a welcome first step in meeting the community needs of all Florida residents with developmental disabilities.”

 Phil Pearson, waiting list parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida, said, “What a great day for Florida and what a great day for Florida’s disability community. Hats off to everyone involved! This waiting list funding will be a godsend to all of those folks waiting for services. They will now be able to rest assured that their children will be properly taken care of. Granted, this won’t fund every situation, but it is a good start, addressing the most urgent cases. Thank you, Governor Scott, for this great day in Florida’s history.”

 Janice Phillips is a service coordinator for people with developmental disabilities, and she is also the chairperson of their association. Phillips said, “The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida would like to thank Governor Scott for his continuing support of people with developmental disabilities. His recent decision to include funding in his budget to provide services for those on the waiting list demonstrates his commitment to Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. We are excited about the possibility of helping individuals with support needed to work and live productively in their communities.”

 Governor Scott’s budget proposal also includes about $2.5 million to assist people on the waiver waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work. The funding will pay for job internships and supported employment job coaches for about 1,000 people with developmental disabilities.

 “We are truly thrilled to hear this great news and offer our heartfelt thanks to Governor Scott. The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities applauds Governor Scott’s decision to step forward and meet the needs of Floridians with developmental disabilities. The addition of funding to enroll individuals on the developmental disabilities Medicaid waiver will greatly enhance the lives of these people and those who provide for their daily needs. Additionally, providing supported employment services for another 1,000 individuals means these individuals have the opportunity to achieve their employment goals for the first time in their lives,” said Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Executive Director Suzanne Sewell.

 The ARC of Florida Executive Director Deborah Linton said, “These additional funds will allow our chapters to protect the health and safety of more Floridians with intellectual disabilities and in many cases, fulfill their dreams of securing jobs and contributing to their community. It will benefit the individual and the economy.”

 Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Debra Dowds said, “I am thrilled that Governor Scott is working to provide funding for people on the waiting list. Individuals with developmental disabilities need ongoing supports to be fully integrated into their local communities. This money is crucial to helping people with critical needs. The funding specifically for supported employment and job internships will enable many individuals with developmental disabilities to earn wages in competitive integrated employment, moving them to greater self-sufficiency.”