Hot Topics – First Quarter 2019

By Carol Meredith, Executive Director

Carol Meredith

The first quarter of the year is always a busy one.  The Colorado Legislature is in session, schools are busy, adults are working and contributing to their communities, and the weather was super challenging on certain days and beautiful on others.

Public Policy

We have heard from you that our participation in this process is important.  Here is a brief update:

  • Competency has been a big issue at the Capitol for several years. We care about this issue because when people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) get in trouble with the law, they should be assessed to ensure that they understand the court proceedings and their rights.  We are monitoring several bills at the Capitol on this topic.
  • Mental health is another big legislative focus this year.  Did you know that 40% of people with I/DD also live with a co-occurring mental health condition?  Your chapter along with other chapters of The Arc have been working with Mental Health Colorado, Children’s Hospital and other constituents on several bills before the legislature.
  • The Children’s Habilitation Residential Program waiver is being re-designed.  Your chapter has been very involved in this effort.  The new waiver should be available in July of this year and will no longer require that children be in the child welfare system to get these important services.
  • The Children’s Extensive Support waiver application process is being re-designed to better meet the needs of children and their families.

Advocacy

Did you know that 75% of our resources are allocated to assist children and adults with I/DD, and their families to receive individualized support from our chapter of The Arc? Here are a few trends and topics of discussion among advocates:

  • Charter schools have been a big topic in educational advocacy over the first quarter of the year.
  • We have also seen a larger emphasis from school districts requiring attendance contracts. This can be a problem for students and their parents when the student has complex medical conditions or mental health conditions. 
  • We are hearing that bullying is making children not want to go to school.
  • As family members age, we are seeing more adults with I/DD that need emergency access to the HCBS-DD waiver that provides residential services.
  • The system is very complicated, and our main focus has been helping individuals and their families understand how to navigate Social Security, Medicaid, Medicaid waivers, Special Education law, employment and housing.

The Arc ADventures in Learning – workshops and training

  • Step Up into Life After High School has become a very popular workshop, and for good reason. Just when you thought you understood the school system, now you have to learn how to navigate the adult system.
  • Sex Education for middle school-aged children with I/DD has long been a class that we wanted to offer because so many of our advocacy cases involve children that don’t know how to behave when their bodies are changing.
  • How Do I Get There? Transportation is important if you can’t drive.  This class prepares self-advocates to utilize public transportation.
  • Building Blocks is for families who are new to Colorado or have young children with disabilities and need to understand the systems of care.  We talk about Individualized Education Programs, Medicaid, Medicaid Waivers and person-centered planning.
  • Understanding Family Caregiver, Consumer Directed Attendant Supports Services and In-Home Support Services.
  • Community Safety, Special Relationships, and Friendships are important for all of us, so we want to make sure that self-advocates have every opportunity to develop safe and meaningful relationships.
  • The Arc ADventures in Leadership meets monthly and is an opportunity for self-advocates to develop leadership skills and give back to the community.

Events – sometimes you just got to have fun!

Last year, you told us through our survey that social activities are something that you want more of, so we hired an event coordinator, Kelly Lawler. Here’s an overview of things we’ve planned and have in store for the future:

  • In early March we had our Annual Meeting where the business of the association is conducted, but we also had a great meal and dancing with Joelman the DJ.
  • When baseball season rolled around, we hosted a Rockies’ party for our members to receive tickets, and enjoy hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jacks and door prizes.
  • The Arc Adventures in Fun is for self-advocates.  Participants went to see Newsies at the Lone Tree Arts Center earlier this year. And we have many more fun activities planned.
  • Our Place is a large landscape project we announced a few weeks ago. We encourage all who are interested in honoring an individual or organization to purchase a $20.00 engraved brick. All orders must be placed by May 27, 2019 in order to be included in the walkway. For more information and to order a brick please visit this link: https://bit.ly/2F6r7nt

We want to hear from you!  The Arc Arapahoe and Douglas exists to make your lives better and more meaningful.  Please send an email with YOUR ideas to [email protected]


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