As our country climbs out of its economic recession and tries to achieve stability, we can see, firsthand, the repercussions of these hard times. In 2010 many individuals with developmental disabilities and their families faced changes in services that, in many cases, meant a decrease in supports. Others remain on waiting lists not knowing when support will be available.
The Advocacy Team at The Arc in Jefferson County has been focused on helping Arc members and families face these challenges. Our team is working within the community collaborating with partners, developing and implementing trainings, and advocating for the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities. They have faced every challenge set before them with resilience and dedication to the organization and the individuals we serve.
In 2010, The Advocacy Team provided Direct Advocacy to 1411 individuals of all ages using a comprehensive approach. This means that there was one advocate per individual using the team as support to ensure all needs were met. Our team of advocates responded to all requests, engaging on different levels depending on the level of the individual’s needs. Relevant trainings were also developed to meet the needs of the individuals we support. A total of 38 trainings were held and attended by 925 individuals. Advocacy Outreach totaled 91 activities. This is based upon requests from our community partners for presentations and community functions, as well as for sponsoring groups for adults.
Other notable 2010 accomplishments include:
• Many individuals in Supported Living Services (SLS) experienced a reduction in Medicaid funding for Supportive Living Services (SLS) in July 2009. The Arc Adult Advocates are assisting in a number of Medicaid appeals that occurred due to these budget cuts. Many of the appeals have been successful, and through these efforts, crucial issues have been brought to light on a systemic level.
• Also due to budget cuts, six individuals were terminated from State-funded (non-Medicaid) Comprehensive Services. The Arc assisted with appeals to maintain these critical services, and our team’s hard work paid off. Five individuals were enrolled in “Medicaid Comp slots”, and 1 individual into a “State SLS” slot as a result of the appeals.
• The Special Education Advisory Committee in Jefferson County Schools originated in January 2010. Throughout its first year, the Committee has established a good balance of parents of students in Special Education, Special Education staff and administrators advising the executive director of Special Education on best practices and future direction.
• The Arc of Colorado and local chapters are delighted to have received a grant from the Walmart Foundation through The Arc of the US. The goal of this grant is to influence school transition programs to “meld” with life planning for individuals.
• Children’s Advocates worked diligently with Jefferson County schools and families to make sure changes to the special education system were shared with families and implemented with integrity.
The Board and staff of The Arc in Jefferson County fully expect 2011 to be another challenging year filled with change, but change often brings opportunity. You can count on The Arc to be there every step of the way, advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.