Tag Archive for APD

Tallahassee – Disability Day

Thomas and I will be attending the annual Disability Day at the Capital on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  DD Day will be on Tuesday; however we will be up a day early so that we can meet with as many legislators as possible while we are in town.

As advocates and a self-advocates it is important to stay connected with our state legislators.  It is also important to be active on the national level.  However, I have found that as advocates we can be more effective at the state level.  The laws and budgets passed by the State of Florida directly and significantly impact the lives of persons living with disabilities here in our state.

I have been advocating in Tallahassee since Jeb Bush was governor.  I like to think that my efforts have had some level of success and have helped to make the lives of many Florida citizens better.

The issues have remained the same for as long as I have been doing this.  We need better employment opportunities and better transportation services.  These two often go hand in hand.  It is hard to find employment if you can not get to and from work.  Persons with disabilities have a high rate of unemployment.  Only 18% of people with disabilities are employed.

Every year we fight to keep the Early Steps program funded.  This is administered by Children’s Medical Services and is the Part C of the IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  They provide early intervention services for 0 to 3 and serve over 40,000 children in Florida.  History has shown that early intervention works.

The Med Waiver has been under funded for a decade or more.  We currently have over 20,000 people on the Med Waiver waiting list.  Every year we work to increase funding in an attempt to reduce the waiting list and continue to provide community services for those who so desperately need them.

Last session we saw and increase in funding and were able to remove over 1,000 individuals from the waiting list.  However, we still have a long way to go.

Every year the treatment of children with disabilities in our public schools is discussed.  In 2010 we had the first significant legislation protecting children from the abuse of seclusion and restraint in our public schools.  This year there is no legislation proposed so our children will remain vulnerable to abuse for another year.

Each year we fight the same battles.  Some years we make small steps and we celebrate our successes.  It is sad that advocates for the most vulnerable members of our society have to settle for small incremental successes.  However, that is the reality that over 20% of our citizens live with. That is the percent of people who have a disability.

This Tuesday, March 18 you should hear the squeaking of wheels in Tallahassee.  I hope that our legislators listen and appreciate how difficult it is for so many of our disabled citizens to make the trip to the Capital.  We want to be listened to, we want to be heard and we want to be taken seriously.

We will continue to keep squeaking our wheels for as long as it takes.

Appointed to Florida Developmental Disability Council

Thomas Moon has recently been appointed to the Florida Developmental Disability Council by Governor Scott.

The purpose of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council is to engage in advocacy, capacity building, and systemic change activities that contribute to a coordinated, consumer and family centered, consumer and family directed, comprehensive system of community services and individualized supports that enable individuals with developmental disabilities to exercise self-determination, be independent, be productive, and be integrated and included in all facets of community life.

The federal law that created the Council states that the purpose of the Council is to assure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life, through culturally competent programs authorized under this title.

The Council will accomplish its mission by supporting innovative initiatives that demonstrate new approaches to enhance the independence, productivity, inclusion and self-determination of individuals with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life.

This is such a great honor for Thomas Moon to be appointed to the FDDC. Thomas will be going to the annual DD Days held at the capital in Tallahassee Florida on March 6 and 7. During these days the FDDC and many advocates and self-advocates will do around the capital talking to different legislators about people with disabilities and how they can live a full life with some help depending on the individual with a disability.

Thomas is going big places and you can too if you just put your mind to going after your goals and dreams.

APD Presentation in Orlando at the Faith Based and Community Event:

I was sitting in my comfortable recliner on a Thursday a couple weeks ago, when I received a call from Lane with the Agency for Person with Disabilities.  He explained that Barbara, the director of APD, heard me do my speech accepting the Idelio Valdes Award, at the capital in Tallahassee Florida. She loved my speech so much that she wanted to invite me to a presentation she was doing on October 24, 2012 in Orlando Florida.  She said she wanted me to share my story as well.

I said that I would be glad to do it but the only issue was I had no transportation. Lane told me that he would look into finding me a ride and get back to me. Lane called me back a couple days later to say he found a ride for me. My ride was Clearance, who is a local Marion County APD Employee.

When I got to the presentation room, Barbara and Lane came in and said that it was an honor that I came. Barbara did her presentation about APD and why we all were there. She shared a couple videos, in which one of them was a video of the Ellen Degeneres show where Ellen interviewed a lady with cerebral Palsy and was Ms. Tennessee. What a very inspirational video and it even made me cry. (I want to be on the Ellen show one day, what an honor it would be)

Barbara then introduced me and I did my awesome presentation. Please check out the presentation below: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F–j-vpALxU)

This is proof that if you live your life and do extraordinary things, the person you would least expect to call you, asks you to help them with a presentation, do an interview, etc.

We all need the keep squeaking our wheels to make better things happen!


Looking Forward to a Better 2012

2011 has not been the best year for people with disabilities. There have been many cuts to the APD Waiver and to other services that help people with disabilities grow and become contributing members of society.  We still have discrimination, and that is hurting people with disabilities and it is limiting our growth in society.  Additionally, persons with disabilities do not have a presence in society at many events, meetings, social activities, etc.

This all needs to change in 2012.  Society needs to stop limiting people with disabilities. A few ways this can be done is

  • no more cuts to the budget
  • everyone should start accepting people with disabilities and give them a chance
  • we need start including everyone in schools, at events, meetings and more
  • those with disabilities need to get out and be self-advocates

We can do this and make 2012 the best year ever!!!  Keep squeaking those wheels.

APD cuts services – what a great Christmas present for the disabled.

From a friend in south Florida comes this holiday message.

Karen R Wagner PhD, BCBA-D, LMHC
Behavior Services of Brevard, Inc/TheBehaviorAnalyst.com

“Just in time for the holidays, APD is in a big push to discontinue services.  Those of you who have been around for a while may recognize this from several years ago, when notifications of reductions went out on Christmas eve, so those who were on vacation could not respond until it was too late.  Blaming the local folks is probably unwarranted, they will be fired if they talk to anyone, and the mandates are coming from a higher source.  However, services are being cut without notification.  One of our consumers finally received official notification three weeks after funding ran out, after his mother exchanged several emails with the area office.  We have several consumers whose services were cut in the past few weeks without notification to the WSC, consumer, or ourselves, as providers.  It seems to be picking up speed, as I would guess the plan is to slash services by the end of the year.

It seems there are several other things to prevent a fair defense of necessary services.  APD has told WSCs that all documentation must be sent digitally, however, the email portal is abnormally small, so the digital files cannot be sent.  After sending several times, many WSCs have to split files into several smaller files, multiplying the probability of the documentation being lost in the flurry of activity.  Most of the requested documentation is already in the consumer’s files at APD, so the reasons for requesting the documentation are fuzzy at best.

APD seems to have discontinued the Notice of Intent to reduce or deny services, in favor of an “Agency Action”, which just tells you the services are cut.  Parents don’t seem to be getting these until after the service has been discontinued. Parents still only have 10 days from the receipt of the letter to respond.  Please contact your parent advocacy resources, parent group members, and most importantly, YOUR LEGISLATORS!

One thing to be aware of: Despite the gloomy financial forecasting, state funding has never come from real estate taxes, or unemployment funds, or local municipalities.  Most agencies, including APD have always been funded by Florida sales taxes and other sources, the income from which have not changed much in the past few years.  It is impossible to find accurate income figures state-wide.  So why are services being slashed to consumers?  This appears to be a created crisis, giving legislators an opportunity to cut “social welfare” programs.

Medwaiver also has a sizable federal matching component, and based on recent figures, the “deficit” numbers seem to exclude the contributing federal match dollars, artificially inflating the shortfall. However, since the budget was set by the legislators, and has been shrinking every year, “shortfall” seems to be a misnomer.

Spread the word to consumers, families and advocates to check their mail, PO boxes, the consumer’s mail (if they live independently), or anywhere else the consumer may receive mail.  Requests for reconsiderations and hearings may need to be sent during the holidays.  Wish there was better news.”

Enjoy your Holy Days and keep squeaking those wheels.  We need to make enough noise – we need to be heard.

APD Statement on Governor’s Proposed Budget

From our friend Aaron Nangel.

Statement on Governor’s Budget Proposal by  Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Mike Hansen.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is very pleased with Governor Scott’s budget proposal released recently.

The governor has once again shown that being fiscally responsible does not mean lessening our commitment to the state’s most vulnerable citizens, said APD Director Mike Hansen.

This budget proposal increases recurring General Revenue funding by $26 million to meet the needs of the 30,000 Floridians with developmental disabilities currently receiving services under the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver.

Also included is $83 million in additional funding to cover the current projected shortfall in waiver funding, said Hansen. “The governor’s proposal also requires the agency to tighten its belt and find greater efficiencies by reducing positions and funding for administration,” said Hansen.

See the Governor’s budget proposal.

Note there is no mention of the Wait List.

We can never stop squeaking our wheels.


APD Director Mike Hansen Updates on APD Budget

From our friend and fellow advocate Aaron Nangle of WaiverProvider.com.

APD Director Mike Hansen Gave Updates on APD budget at House committee meeting.

On November 15, APD Director Michael Hansen made a presentation to the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on actions the agency is taking to bring its Medicaid waiver within appropriations.
He talks in depth about how APD is working hard to get the budget under control. I do hope many of you took the time to see this meeting. I do have to say in my opinion Mr Hansen did let our legislators know they are not providing us with enough funds to provide the proper care that people need. He let them know that the waiver needs another 1,000,000.00 Also that the cuts and funding is all up to them to control.
He talked about how some cost plans will be cut in half. “Yes cut in half” He talked about people only having core services and not non core services. It is important for you to know what they are and how it will affect you.
As you look at the slide shows you will see information on what Mr. Hanson went over with the legislators at this meeting. If you do not agree with what you see and what is happening it is up to each and every one of you to call, write and go see all of your representatives. Let them know your thoughts and opinions. Tell them how this will affect you and your families health, safety and well being.
Aaron and all advocates – keep us informed and keep squeaking your wheels.

Florida Face to Face Interview with APD Director Mike Hansen

Florida Face to Face Interview with APD Director Mike Hansen


Being Old, Disabled Or Vulnerable In Florida Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

You can abuse and neglect the disabled at an Assisted Living Facility in Florida – and you can still continue to run or work at the facility.  Yes, that is true.  There is no statute or administrative rule that prevents someone who has been held responsible for the abuse, neglect or even death of a resident of an ALF from being banned from running or working at an ALF.

Couple this with the fact that Governor Scott fired the head of the Long Term Ombudsman Council for being too aggressive in pursing complaints against  Florida Nursing Homes and other care facilities – and being disabled or aged in Florida can be dangerous to your health.

Rick Scott has formed a panel to look into the possibilities that care facilities for the aged and disabled may be harming our citizens.  Of course this is the same man who put the owner of a large chain of nursing homes in charge of the entity responsible to oversee and handle complaints from nursing homes.  The foxes are running the hen house.  We can expect no more from any commission that our Governor sets up.

The Miami Herald ran a series called Neglected to Death.  This investigated and documented numerous cases of abuse in our ALF’s and nursing homes.

This series ran in May and our vulnerable elderly and disabled are still without adequate protection.

At one time the State of Florida had the Human Rights Council and later the Florida Local Advocacy Council to oversee complaints and conditions in facilities for the disabled and elderly.  These were volunteers with no vested interested who gave of their time to inspect and investigate complaints and conditions.  They reported to the Governor’s office.

However, like the Ombudsman Council they were too aggressive and found too many problems with facilities that provided care to the vulnerable in our state.  Two years ago the council was abolished.  We no longer have a third party organization, or any organization for that matter, concerned with Human Rights Violations.

Being old or vulnerable in Florida can be hazardous to your health.

Governor Scott step up and appoint a third party organization to review Human Rights Violations.  It needs to be an organization of volunteers who have no vested or monetary interest in Nursing Homes, ALF’s or other facilities.

Make Florida a safe place for our elderly, disabled and vulnerable citizens.

Keep squeaking those wheels.

Previously posted on View From The Dark Side Of The Moon blog.

No More Cuts –

From Tallahassee – Florida Senate ponders cuts for developmentally disabled.

No more cuts. The disabled are already shouldering more than their share of budget cuts.

Read the full story.