Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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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.”


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Child-serving Agencies Partner to Raise Awareness about Human Trafficking

DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters announces expansion of Victim Identification Pilot Project

Tallahassee – Today, Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) held a joint press conference to raise awareness about human trafficking and educate the public about the state’s efforts to end the practice in Florida.

Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that affects more than 27 million people worldwide, including an estimated two million children who are trafficked for child labor and sexual exploitation. In the United States, the Polaris Project estimates approximately 100,000 kids are trapped in the commercial sex trade right now.

“Florida is a leading the way for the rest of the nation with its comprehensive, collaborative, cross-agency approach to protecting our state’s children from the emotional, physical and psychological harm human trafficking causes,” said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters, chair of the Human Trafficking Workgroup of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet.

For the second consecutive year, Gov. Rick Scott signed a proclamation designating January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Florida. This year, 13 local governments followed his lead by signing proclamations for their communities. To view the full list, click here.

“The Department of Children and Families has investigated more than 1,000 cases of alleged human trafficking involving children in this state,” said Secretary David Wilkins. “We are so proud to join in this effort to fight this terrible crime and rescue these young victims who are being sexually abused, exploited and traumatized. We can only hope that together, we can make a difference in their lives and stop other children from being victimized this way.”

During the press conference, DJJ Secretary Walters announced that DJJ is expanding its Victim Identification Pilot Project to Orange County. This unparalleled pilot trains staff at DJJ’s Juvenile Assessment Centers (JACs) to use a research-based, trauma-informed assessment tool to identify victims as soon as they enter the facility. The pilot began in Broward County last August, extended to Miami-Dade County in October, and will launch in Orange County at the end of this month. Once victims are identified, DJJ staff reports them to the Florida Abuse Hotline and an alert is entered into DJJ’s data system to track the child and ensure they receive appropriate services.

“Florida is the first state in the nation to attempt to identify victims immediately upon arrest,” DJJ Secretary Walters added. “We are particularly proud of this project because it not only saves children from the cruel individuals subjecting them to trafficking, but it also enables us to connect victims with state resources they need to recover from the trauma they experienced and move forward.”

Walters added, “The data we collect will help us better understand the scope of the problem, how many of these survivors we serve, and how we can best meet their needs.”

The pilot project complements two laws passed during the 2012 Legislative Session that seek to assist human trafficking victims. With the start of 2013, sexually exploited children received new hope as the state’s Safe Harbor Act became effective. The Safe Harbor Act helps ensure the safety of child victims who have been trafficked for sex by allowing them to get help from child welfare professionals instead of being placed in juvenile delinquency. This enables DCF, DJJ, law enforcement and local partners across the state to treat and help the victims of this abuse recover from the traumatic experiences they have faced so they can be successfully shepherded into adulthood.

“I am very proud to have sponsored and advocated for the Florida Safe Harbor Act. This important legislation allows law enforcement to recognize vulnerable individuals as victims instead of criminals, and gives us the ability to offer them refuge and support,” said Senator Anitere Flores. “I applaud Kristi House in Miami for their efforts in working with the Department of Children and Families to lead the way in identifying and treating victims of this horrendous crime.”

A separate law, House Bill 7049, went into effect last July and gives prosecutors the ability to better fight this terrible crime by imposing tougher penalties. Together, the laws have made Florida a national leader in fighting human trafficking and rescuing victims.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world today, and matches arms smuggling as the second largest international criminal industry.

“The situation in Florida is particularly dire because predators view our state as one of the most attractive destinations and transit points for their victims,” said Deborah Polston, Volunteer Advocate for Human Trafficking. “Thankfully, our state’s leaders and the Florida Legislature have recognized the need to further protect Florida’s youth. I am proud to be a part of the team dedicated to combating human trafficking in the state of Florida.”
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities is also incorporating numerous human trafficking indicators into its Zero Tolerance training program to help the professionals serving people with developmental disabilities identify and appropriately respond to the victims they may encounter. This is part of APD’s efforts to educate staff members and service providers throughout the state about human trafficking and its grave effect on U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and the extremely vulnerable clients served by the agency.

“APD is committed to heightening awareness of all the potential threats that its clients face on a day-to-day basis,” said APD Director Barbara Palmer. “We understand that the issues surrounding human trafficking evolve continually, so the agency will be vigilant in its efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of Floridians with developmental disabilities.”

The Zero Tolerance curriculum guides APD’s providers in identifying cases of abuse and neglect, including sexual exploitation. In addition to requiring this training for APD employees and service providers, the agency has partnered with the Department of Children and Families’ Adult Protective Services Program that tracks and investigates reports of abuse and neglect. APD staff members throughout the state review these reports in an effort to strengthen abuse prevention strategies. The integration of human trafficking indicators will add this crucial factor to the report review process.

If you are aware of any child or adult in an unsafe situation, please call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873.

HumanTrafficking

(Left to right: Deborah Polston, David Wilkins, Barbara Palmer, Wansley Walters and Zackary Gibson, director and chief child advocate of the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection.)


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iBudget Ringing in the New Year

TALLAHASSEE — Agency for Persons with Disabilities customers in the Tampa Bay and Fort Myers areas are beginning the New Year with a new way to manage their services that are funded by the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver. Beginning this month, these customers will use the iBudget Florida waiver to direct their services and the money used to pay for them. 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 6,138 customers join 13,319 other customers who are already enjoying the benefits of iBudget Florida in managing their waiver dollars. The new customers live in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee, De Soto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. More than six months of preparation and training has occurred with customers, their families, their waiver support coordinators, and providers prior to the January 1 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.

Many families in North Florida have been using iBudget for more than a year and are very pleased with how iBudget Florida has improved their self-direction and provided increased choice. APD has posted several interviews with families on iBudgetFlorida.org. Visit

http://apdcares.org/ibudget/videos.htmto view the testimonials.

The next group of customers, who live in Palm Beach and Broward counties, will begin using the iBudget Florida system on April 1, 2013.

The final group of customers, in Dade and Monroe counties, will begin using iBudget on July 1, 2013. In addition, Consumer-Directed Care Plus (CDC+) participants will start using iBudget Florida on July 1, 2013.

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.