DD Advocate Magazine - Issue 4

Page 1

Fall 2012

DD Advocate Magazine

From school to work

Bridges to Transition raises job expectations for teens PAGE 14

Election 2012: Two visions for Medicaid

Creating jobs and saving money at ViaQuest

Lowe’s partnership hits a home run in Findlay




CREATING CONNECTIONS OHIODD.COM COUNTY BOARDS • One keystroke in Gatekeeper activates a provider’s OhioDD.com account. • Gatekeeper effortlessly transmits data to OhioDD.com with no additional work. • Decreases support calls, payment processing time, and postage costs. • Gives providers next-day electronic access to service authorizations and payment information. SERVICE PROVIDERS • Access electronic service authorizations. • Track utilization and submit billing for locally-funded services. • Submit locally-funded billing with a user-friendly billing tool. • Download county payment files directly into your billing software.

County boards and service providers have an essential partnership. Primary Solutions created OhioDD.com to support and strengthen that connection. You serve the same individuals. You work together. You need each other. The challenge is how to be effective working partners. How do you efficently communicate vital service information? Your phone rings constantly. You’re busy and can’t always meet face-to-face. You’re already spending too much time emailing and too much money on postage. Primary Solutions has created the ideal solution. OhioDD.com links county boards and service providers, allowing you to exchange information with ease. No maintenance. No fuss.

INVESTIGATE OHIODD.COM • Contact Primary Solutions – the only software vendor dedicated exclusively to the needs of Ohio’s DD community. 6665 Busch Blvd. Columbus, Ohio 43229 614.430.0355 www.primarysolutions.net

OhioDD.com. A case study in simplicity.

Introduce your staff to an easier way to work.

Fall 2012 / Volume 1, Issue 4


DD Advocate Magazine

In This Issue



Adam Herman

3 President’s Letter


Jeff Vanik

4 Transitions


5 Profile: OACB receives five-year accreditation for non-profit excellence




DD Briefing

Ohio Association of County Boards

Election 2012: Two Visions for Medicaid

Serving People with Developmental Disabilities Dan Ohler EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR | DOHLER@OACBDD.ORG

DD Leaders


8 Creating jobs and saving taxpayer money at ViaQuest



Adam Herman

Lowe’s partnership with Blanchard Valley hits a home run with one community employee



Willie Jones

12 A decade of professional development at The Training Center




14 From school

to work

Bridges to Transition raises job expectations for teens







DD News

20 News in a Nutshell DD Words of Wisdom

28 Mary Ann Chamberlain


Jordan Brown was photographed at Rose’s Department Store in Lancaster, Ohio by Adam Herman for DD Advocate.


Fall 2012


DD Advocate Magazine is the official publication and registered trademark (™) of the Ohio Association of County Boards – Serving People with Developmental Disabilities (OACB). All content is copyright ©2012 OACB unless otherwise noted. Written permission is necessary to reproduce any material for which OACB is the owner. Every effort is made to ensure accuracy of content prior to publication. OACB is not responsible for inaccuracy that arises after the magazine has published. OACB is not responsible for information contained within advertisements and does not endorse the products or services advertised. Inquiries regarding material contained within should be directed to feedback@ddadvocate.com or to: DD Advocate Magazine c/o Adam Herman, Managing Editor 73 E. Wilson Bridge Road, Suite B1 Worthington, OH 43085 For an up-to-date advertising rate card, visit www.ddadvocate.com. All other inquiries may be directed via e-mail to feedback@ddadvocate.com.

President’s Letter DEAR COLLEAGUES: Until very recently, a job for a person with a developmental disability has almost always meant sheltered employment in a county-operated workshop. Thanks to the concerted efforts of board members, dedicated staff, and self-advocates, this is no longer an absolute certainty. The journey from sheltered employment to community employment has been a long one, filled with hundreds of questions to answer, both large and small, along the way. Many more questions must be answered before we, as a system, can feel confident that we are truly working in the best interests of the people we serve. For example - what is the proper role of the county board in determining a person’s employment future? How do we strike a balance between the right of a person to get the perfect job for their skill set and the financial commitment required for such a program to be successful? If the money is not there to do what would be the best for every person, should we attempt to achieve satisfactory but less than optimal results for as many people as we can afford? Setting aside the issue of finances, who decides what person gets to work in the community as opposed to the workshop? Sure, there are objective measures of a person’s functional capability that are helpful, but where do we draw the line to separate those who can from those who cannot? In cases where a person is in satisfactory but less than optimal employment, such as a workshop, what is a board member’s level of responsibility for that person’s quality of life? Are we doing all we can to provide a full and meaningful life for a person who does not have the capabilities needed to function in a community job? And – no matter what we decide in response to these questions – do we sleep any better at night having answers? It is frequently hard for us, as board members, to make decisions about the futures of the people we serve without our emotions playing a role. This is particularly true of board members who are also family


members, because the effects of our decisions can be seen in the experiences of our loved ones. At the end of the day, the only definite answer is that there is no definite answer. We can only try to do the best we can to balance the capabilities and needs of the people we serve with the effects of our decisions on the system as a whole – and hope we make the right choice. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. To celebrate the many unique abilities of the Blaine Brockman Madison Co. Board of DD people served by Ohio’s county boards of DD, we have dedicated much of this issue to programs that provide incredible opportunities to people who want meaningful work outside the traditional DD employment model. It is my hope that, after you read these articles, you will share your feedback with me on the answers to the questions I have asked above. If there is one thing I have learned as a board member, it is that there is no shortage of opinions on this topic. I am interested to hear yours. I hope you will e-mail me at feedback@oacbdd.org with your thoughts. As always, thank you for your work in support of people with developmental disabilities. Yours in service,

Blaine Brockman President, Board of Trustees

Fall 2012







Kristen Helling joined OACB in August 2011 and currently helps manage the Bridges to Transition program. She acts as the vocational rehabilitation supervisor and technical assistance advisor for Bridges coordinators across the state, representing more than 35 counties. Prior to joining OACB, Helling worked for the Knox County Board of DD, and has worked in public relations, advertising, and television/radio journalism. In her first contribution to DD Advocate, she documents the success of the Bridges to Transition program.

Sheri Fleegle works at Blanchard Valley Industries in Findlay as their Community Employment Assistant. Prior to joining BVI, she worked in programming and marketing with a Boys & Girls Club in rural West Virginia. She also served as the public information director for Washington State Community College in Marietta, Ohio. In her first contribution to DD Advocate, she writes about how the community employment partnership between BVI and Lowe’s Distribution Center is changing the lives of people with DD in Hancock County.

Mary Agnes Carey has covered health reform and federal health policy for more than 15 years as an editor at CQ HealthBeat, as Capitol Hill Bureau Chief for Congressional Quarterly, and at Dow Jones Newswires. She is a frequent radio and television commentator, recently featured on the Nightly Business Report, the PBS NewsHour, and on NPR affiliates nationwide. In her first contribution to DD Advocate, she interprets how the so-called “Ryan Budget” would affect Medicaid if it were to be implemented.

DD Advocate Magazine



The past three months have been a time of transformation for many Ohio county boards of DD, with staff transitions, promotions, retirements, and appointments taking place in 10 counties. Have you recently made a big transition at your county board? Tell us at feedback@ddadvocate.com we’ll be happy to share the news!

Retired Gloria Steiner, as Stark DD Information Systems Manager.

Hired Mike Adkins, as Summit DD Information Technology Project Manager. Kyle Corbin, former Clark DD Quality Support and Safety Supervisor, as Program Director at Montgomery Developmental Center. Julie Eastes, as Clinton DD Business Manager. Deb Guilford, former Executive Director of Northwest Ohio Waiver Administration Council, as Williams DD Superintendent. Crystal Homberger, as QUEST Adult Services Director in Clark County. James Krumer, as Scioto DD Superintendent. Jennie Lukey, SSA Director at Shelby DD, as SSA Director at Champaign DD. These are now shared services positions. Teresa McMullen, as Executive Director of Orion, Clinton DD’s non-profit for adult services program.

In Memoriam Neva Rae Graban (1945-2012) Neva Rae Graban was known for her commitment, championship, and leadership for persons with developmental disabilities. She was a supportive colleague, loving wife, mother, and grandmother who passed away in July at the young age of 66. She was very well known in the field as someone that was compassionate and cared about others - especially the people that she worked with and the individuals and their families that she served. Neva was from the Youngstown area and started her career as a Special Education teacher then later moved to Guernsey County where she became Principal of Golden Rule School. She was later hired as Superintendent for the Guernsey County Board of Developmental Disabilities, where she had a long distinguished career from 1988 through 2007, when she retired. Neva was a professional, a mentor, and a friend to many, a gracious person that loved others and would draw people to her with her warmth and humor. As a past President of Region 5 Superintendents, she set and embraced high expectations and always encouraged others to raise the bar to accomplish high outcomes. She will be truly missed by her family, friends, and especially her current and past colleagues in Region 5 that will remember Neva for her love of life and love for others. She is survived by her husband William, three children, and six grandchildren. – Natalie Lupi

Renee Olechnowicz, as Children’s Program Manager at Summit DD. Connie Poulton, as Director of Human Resources at Stark DD. Keith Poynter, as Summit DD Operations Supervisor, Plant Operations. LeTonda Thompson, as Human Resources Director at Clark DD.

Promoted Pam Hurles, as Fairfield DD Day Services Coordinator. Deborah Ziccardi, former SSA Manager at Summit DD, as SSA Director at Medina DD.

Awards Terry Naas, Community Relations and Staff Development Manager at Miami DD, has been chosen as a recipient of the 2012 Women In Excellence Award from the YWCA of Miami County located in Piqua, Ohio. Naas was recognized for three decades of both business and volunteer involvement toward the betterment of her community-at-large. In addition, she has served for eight years on the board of Ohio Public Images, a statewide organization promoting disability awareness. 4

Fall 2012

In Memoriam Barrett Nefores (1950-2012) We of the living often have a difficult time properly acknowledging the accomplishments of our fallen comrades. Comrades in arms they are, each and every one, in the service of people with developmental disabilities. Who better to champion those we serve than a man like Barrett Nefores? He ensured that individuals who needed help the most got it and that the most likely forgotten were not. He was loyal to those of us who had the honor of winning his respect. Barrett’s contribution to the field, in addition to his long term service as the Director of SSA at both the Richland and Medina County Boards of DD, included countless trips to Columbus where he demonstrated leadership in state professional organizations. His insight helped craft laws and policy changes (most significantly the creation of laws that enabled County Boards to investigate abuse and neglect and to provide service and support administration services). Shortly after he came to work in Medina, Barrett suffered multiple fractures in a serious car accident and recovered in a rehab facility before coming home. He fought his way back and applied those lessons learned in that rehab facility to the rest of his lifelong service to others. As a result, Barrett lived by the rule “work hard, play hard.” He was a very passionate man who loved his work, his family and his friends - and then there was golf! Barrett was a consummate professional and the Board’s voice of compassion. He will be missed. – Virginia “Ginny” Mitchell

DD Profiles

OACB receives five-year accreditation for non-profit excellence


Staff members and trustees were present at the award ceremony to accept the Standards of Excellence certification. They include (left-right): Lisa Edris, Danielle Driscoll, Dr. Leslie McClain, Kim Linkinhoker, Dustin McKee, Lisa Brewer, Scott Marks, Dan Ohler, Pete Moore, Lori Stanfa, Blaine Brockman, Betsy Galvin, Kristen Helling, and Lana Beddoes. Also present at the event was Adam Herman, who is behind the camera.

The Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations (OANO) recently announced that six organizations that have achieved the Standards for Excellence certification at a special luncheon ceremony attended by more than 280 nonprofit executives and leaders during OANO’s Annual Statewide Conference in Columbus.

practices. Nonprofits from around the state are eligible to apply for the Standards program. “It takes great dedication to undergo the certification process. The hard work of these organizations demonstrates a firm commitment to the highest standards in ethics and accountability,” says Jennifer Eschbach, OANO’s executive director.

The Standards for Excellence Class of 2012 included the Ohio Association of County Boards of DD, Lutheran Homes Society, Reading Recovery Council of North America, Cancer Patient Services, Columbus Speech & Hearing, and the Council for Older Adults of Delaware County.

OANO is a statewide membership association of 500 organizations that provides leadership, education and advocacy to enhance the ability of Ohio’s nonprofit organizations to serve their communities.

Each group voluntarily agreed to undergo an anonymous peer review process to confirm adherence to a comprehensive code of conduct that promotes accountability through self-regulation. The Standards for Excellence certification reflects a conscientious and lengthy review of a nonprofit organization’s program operations, governance, human resources, financial management and fundraising

The Board of Trustees and staff members at OACB are proud to have received this distinction, and look forward to maintaining the standards of excellence for which they were recognized.

More information about the certification can be found at www.oano.org/62-complete.htm.

DD Advocate Magazine


DD Briefing

Election 2012: Two Visions for Medicaid Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) BY DUSTIN MCKEE / OACB Q: How does the ACA change Medicaid? The ACA alters the Medicaid program in many ways. However, the most notable change entails the expansion of Medicaid eligibility. In 2014, the law allows states to significantly expand their Medicaid eligibility to cover people under 65, including non-disabled childless adults, with a Modified Adjusted Gross Income of less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (approximately $15,415 per year for an individual). Prior to the recent decision by the Supreme Court that rendered Medicaid expansion optional for states, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculated that the ACA would increase Medicaid enrollment by an estimated 17 million people by 2019. However, since that expansion is now optional, the CBO projects that as many as 6 million fewer people will be covered by Medicaid than they originally estimated.

In addition to the Medicaid expansion, which accounted for approximately half of the spending and half of the insurance coverage of the original bill, the ACA makes many more changes to Medicaid that specifically affects people with developmental disabilities. According to the Congressional Research Service, the ACA: Creates a new “Community First Choice Option” that gives states a 6 percentage point increase to states Federal Medicaid Assistance Rate (FMAP) for 5 years for offering Home and Community Based Attendant services as a state plan Medicaid card service; Requires that states sustain their current Medicaid eligibility standards through 2019 for children and 2013 for adults; Increases flexibility for states to conduct pilot programs aimed at increasing the efficiency and quality of health care; Creates new mandatory and optional Medicaid benefits for states including expanded adult preventative care; and Creates new options for helping states coordinate care to reduce costs and improve outcomes for people who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid (so-called “dual eligibles”), as well as people who have chronic conditions. Q: How would federal Medicaid spending change as a result of the Affordable Care Act?


Above: President Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House. 6

Fall 2012

Despite the fact that all of the increased expenses in the ACA are paid for with spending cuts and new taxes that were enacted in the bill, the increase in federal Medicaid spending is notable. Prior to the recent Supreme Court decision, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) estimated that the expansion of the Medicaid program would result increase spending by $410 Billion between 2014 and 2019. Since the decision, however, the CBO now predicts that there will

be 35% decrease in the expected number of new Medicaid enrollees from the ACA, which should result in a substantial reduction in federal spending associated with the program. The reason the increase in federal Medicaid expenditures is so large is because the federal government pays for almost all of the Medicaid expansion. In the first three years the expansion is implemented (2014-2016), the federal government pays 100% of the cost of the newly eligible Medicaid enrollees. In subsequent years, the federal share is slightly reduced, until the year 2020, when it bottoms out at 90%. Q: How would the Affordable Care Act impact states’ Medicaid budgets? Since the Medicaid expansion in the ACA is now optional for states, the answer this question depends on how each state decides to proceed with their Medicaid program. However, all states will see some kind of increase in their Medicaid spending as a result of the ACA. This is because of the so called “welcome mat” effect, where currently eligible people that aren’t enrolled on the program will have a greater incentive to sign up for Medicaid due to the new insurance coverage mandate. The Ohio Office of Health Transformation estimates that even if the state decides not to implement the Medicaid expansion, Ohio would incur a $369 M increase in Medicaid costs in 2014 due to the “welcome mat” effect. Q: What would these changes mean to Medicaid enrollment? Since the Supreme Court’s decision, the CBO has estimated that the law will result in an additional 11 million people being covered by the Medicaid program. The ACA could also result in an increased amount of enrollees becoming eligible to receive personal care assistance and more persons with multiple chronic care needs receiving better health outcomes through more effective care coordination.

Editors Note: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains some of the most significant changes to Medicaid since the federal program was established in 1965. In this edition of Briefing, we examine how President Barack Obama’s plans for the future of the program (as envisioned in the ACA) compare and contrast with the plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and congressional Republicans (as envisioned in the so-called “Ryan Budget”) in an effort to inform professionals in Ohio’s DD service delivery system on the various outcomes of each plan in the weeks leading up to November’s general election.

What Is Medicaid? It is the shared federal-state health insurance program for low-income and disabled people. It covers about 62 million Americans. States generally administer the program under broad guidelines from the federal government that include minimum eligibility and benefits standards. States and the federal government share in the financing of the program. -KHN

Medicaid under the “Ryan budget” BY MARY AGNES CAREY / KAISER HEALTH NEWS Q: How would Ryan’s plan change Medicaid? The federal government on average pays 57 cents of every dollar spent on Medicaid. Some states receive more, some less, with a greater federal share going to the poorest states. Under Ryan’s plan, the federal share of Medicaid spending would decline about $800 billion over 10 years as the program becomes a block grant indexed for inflation and population growth. States would have more flexibility over who is covered and what benefits are offered. The block grant would start in 2013. Ryan and his supporters say turning to block grants would both save the federal government money and give states flexibility in who they cover and what benefits are provided. “States will no longer be shackled by federal determined program requirements and enrollment criteria,” his plan says. Opponents of Ryan’s plan say it would lead states to reduce enrollment, cut benefits or require more cost sharing from beneficiaries. Ryan’s plan would also repeal the Medicaid expansion included in the 2010 health law, which if states opted to do it, would provide Medicaid coverage to people under 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or $14,856 for an individual and $30,656 for a family of four, according to current guidelines. The CBO estimates that would affect 11 million people. Q: How would federal spending change under Ryan’s Medicaid proposal? A CBO analysis of the Ryan plan that the House approved in 2011 found that federal spending for Medicaid would be 35 percent lower in 2022 and 49 percent lower in 2030 than currently projected federal spending. While Ryan’s Medicare proposal changed slightly in the budget plan that the House passed earlier this year, his Medicaid

proposal remained largely the same in both versions. Q: How would Ryan’s plan impact states’ Medicaid budgets? In March, the CBO said that if, as Ryan proposes, states had additional flexibility to allocate federal funds for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance program (both programs provide health care for low-income children), states might be able to make their Medicaid programs deliver care more efficiently.

greater cost sharing, among other changes. If the health law were repealed, as Ryan’s plan calls for, an additional 11 million people would not gain coverage under the statute’s now-optional expansion of Medicaid eligibility. Reprinted with permission from Kaiser Health News. Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

CBO added that the federal spending reductions called for in budget scenarios that Ryan asked CBO to review meant that “states would need to increase their spending on these programs, make considerable cutbacks in them, or both.” States might have to reduce eligibility, cover fewer services, reduce payments to providers or increase beneficiary cost-sharing, CBO said. If Ryan’s plan became law, states anticipating large Medicaid expansions under the health law would see some of the largest reductions in federal spending, according to a 2011 Urban Institute analysis that predated the Supreme Court’s June decision making the law’s Medicaid expansion optional for states. The Urban Institute conducted the study for the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Q: What would these changes mean to Medicaid enrollment? Under Ryan’s block grant proposal, between 14 million and 27 million fewer people would be covered in 2021 than under Medicaid as it currently exists, according to the Urban Institute analysis. Beneficiaries also might see reductions in benefits and


Above: Vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan campaigns with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Virginia. DD Advocate Magazine


DD Leaders

Creating jobs and saving taxpayer money at ViaQuest

Left: Brian Linder, a ViaQuest employee, goes through a detailed inventory list to ensure all orders are complete and ready for delivery. Above: Tonya Boyuk is one of two receptionists at the Columbus offices of Quest for Independence.

BY LINDSEY FOX This past March, DODD Director John Martin joined Governor John Kasich and several other cabinet officials at a press conference to announce Ohio’s Employment First Initiative. The Initiative includes legislation and an executive order to improve collaboration among the Ohio Departments of Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, Education, Job and Family Services, and the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, with the goal of increasing meaningful employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. County boards are taking the Employment First effort very seriously, and have renewed their efforts to create new programs or boost their support of existing programs that promote career-oriented community employment options for the people they serve. For several boards, this has meant creating a partnership with one of OACB’s newest Affiliate Members – ViaQuest. Headquartered in Dublin, Viaquest is a large provider of employment,


Fall 2012

residential, home health, and hospice services to people with developmental disabilities across the state. Regardless of their customer type, staff members at ViaQuest work hard to ensure the people they serve are active participants in their care and make choices about their own futures. One specific program – Quest for Independence – has recently taken off with the Lake and Butler county boards of DD. The reason? County boards are able to support jobs for people with disabilities while saving substantially on many of the products they use every day. By securing contracts with several national wholesalers of office, janitorial, and medical supply products, ViaQuest is now able to match or beat the prices that county boards have been paying for these products from traditional suppliers. As an added benefit, people with disabilities are performing the ordering, receiving, inventorying, fulfilling, assembling and delivering of the

supplies to the County Board’s administrative offices and program sites.


In just a few short few months of operation, ViaQuest has calculated that for every $6,800 dollars spent on office, janitorial, and medical supplies, it has produced 50 hours of work at minimum wage for people with disabilities. Art Miller, ViaQuest’s Director of Program Development, has determined that – during the month of July alone – customers purchased $68,000 of supplies. If you’re doing the math at home, this translates into 500 hours of work for people with disabilities. “I can’t imagine a better example of a public-private partnership,” Miller said. “We’re saving county boards’ money while creating jobs for the people they serve,” he continued. “When you look at our

County boards outside of central Ohio are able to gain more value for the dollars they spend on business and medical supplies.

Left: Fonetta Thomas and Angela Slagle process a large school supply order. Right: Members of one of the “Crews in Blue” work to unload a supply truck.

employees’ faces when they are working, you can tell that they are proud to have a real job. They know that they’re valued members of our company, and that we appreciate their effort.” A strong sense of pride, ownership, and camaraderie immediately developed with the “Crews in Blue” when ViaQuest purchased work shirts for everyone involved in the distribution program. Open communication, vocational training, and efficient scheduling of each vocational crew are what enable the program to work so effectively for all. With warehouse facilities throughout the state, county boards outside of central Ohio are able to gain more value for the dollars they spend on business and medical supplies. In fact, one of the county boards that helped pioneer this initiative is Butler County – located two hours away from ViaQuest’s headquarters in Dublin. Butler DD’s Chief Financial Officer, Rick Black, said that he has found ViaQuest’s pricing to be better than most office and janitorial supply chains. “The more we use the website and catalog, we find we are using more and more supplies that are better prices than we currently pay,” Black said. “We also look forward to seeing the smiling faces of the people employed by ViaQuest when they make the deliveries. That’s when it clicks, and you know you’re doing the right thing.” But it’s not only county boards that have realized the benefit of this program. ViaQuest has also partnered with business leaders such as Careworks, Marzetti, and Honda R&D. Utilizing civic organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary, ViaQuest has also able to extend the

program’s reach and benefits to a number of small businesses. Schools have also become partners in the program, with students who are transitioning from high school into competitive and supported employment participating in the program in various capacities. Chris Wolf, ViaQuest’s executive director, believes that the collaboration between his company and schools helps the schools create learning and real-world work experiences for students. “Schools are regularly hindered by the restrictive environments they often operate within,” Wolf said. “Since IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act) Part B, schools have been able to excel at hiring well-educated and trained specialists. However, these educators need the private sector to support their capacity for teaching through these kinds of collaborations.” ViaQuest is now in negotiations with 36 school systems to assist kids who are in the transition from high school into adulthood with finding a career in the logistics, inventory, customer service, and computer automation side of business. Brian Linder, a person served by a county board who works at one of ViaQuest’s locations, happily embraced the opportunity to work for minimum wage after being in a workshop working for piece rate at his previous employer. “Now that I earn minimum wage and make more money, it helps to pay the bills since I live alone with staff,” Linder said. “I love what I do and ViaQuest is a wonderful place to work and spend time with my friends.” ViaQuest is dedicating a lot of time with this program by building it from the ground up,

focusing on the curriculum, training, and oversight for this new career path for people with disabilities. But it’s not only people with disabilities that are able to find job opportunities with the company. ViaQuest frequently reaches out to returning veterans from overseas who are looking for a job to help lead initiatives like Quest for Independence. ViaQuest owner Rich Johnson, himself a veteran of the armed services, has a strong commitment to helping returning veterans find jobs. “With their experience in logistics overseas they are the perfect candidates to help lead and build this program,” Johnson said. The requirements of a distribution operation are very similar to the training that nearly every service member receives for scheduling, logistics, planning, and communication, making ViaQuest an easy first step toward starting a new career. ViaQuest provides the work experience that students need with more than a decade of experience in supporting families and individuals with disabilities in the community. The coordinated partnership between county boards and ViaQuest is indicative of the strong commitment to the ‘Employment First’ initiative and is the reason why this program continues to grow beyond expectations.

For further information on the ViaQuest Direct program, including how your county board can become a partner in the Quest for Independence program, contact Art Miller (art.miller@viaquestinc.com) at 614-774-6434.

DD Advocate Magazine


DD Leaders

Lowe’s partnership with Blanchard Valley hits a home run with one community employee STORY AND PHOTOS BY SHERI FLEEGLE / BLANCHARD VALLEY CENTER Natalie and Bryan Lippert have always been fierce advocates for their son, Blayne. Throughout his school years, they worked to secure the services he needed for the best possible education. They fought for his inclusion in the extracurricular activities available to other students. And when he graduated in 2011, they tackled a new challenge – finding him a job that would mean independence and a secure future. The answer came easier and sooner than expected however, when the Lipperts discovered the community employment services offered by Blanchard Valley Industries (BVI) in Findlay. BVI had entered into a unique partnership with Lowe’s, one of America’s most recognizable names in home improvement, to employ individuals with disabilities in the Hancock County area. This partnership began in 2010 when the National Organization on Disability (NOD) recommended a pilot project to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. NOD chose BVI because of its progressive approach in helping people with disabilities identify opportunities 10

Fall 2012

to obtain successful employment in the community. As part of its corporate social responsibility efforts, Lowe’s eagerly accepted the invitation to join the program. Further support for the program came in the form of a $250,000 grant from the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission. It started small with the employment of two individuals at the Lowe’s Distribution Center in Findlay, Ohio. One had been unable to find suitable employment to support his young family; the other had participated in the workshop setting at BVI. These two original employees soon moved to full time and are still employed by Lowe’s. In less than a year, the program shifted into high gear and now employs 20 individuals as either trainees or full-time Lowe’s employees. “Pursuing the best, most qualified and diverse employees has always been important to Lowe’s,” says Mark Stewart, a former general manager of the Findlay facility. “This is why Lowe’s has created a focus on recruiting and hiring people with disabilities.”

“We understand that everyone has something to contribute, and Lowe’s is honored to be a part of this project,” he concludes. Jenny Ferguson, BVI Community Employment Director, describes it as a win-win situation for Lowe’s and the individuals hired. The program makes it easier for local business and industry to find prospective employees with disabilities who match their needs. At the same time, those individuals find gainful employment and a place where they can succeed. Job coaches, trained in the employer’s performance standards, work with the individuals to help them learn job skills, safety, and appropriate work behavior. In fact, the program has been so successful that Lowe’s has committed to hire employees with disabilities at its facilities in Rockford, IL and Statesville, NC. “Seeing individuals with disabilities make the decision to work at Lowe’s upon completing their training is inspiring,” Ferguson says, commenting on the program’s expansion. Originally, trainees entered the program as BVI employees; now they start as Lowe’s

County Board of Developmental Disabilities recognized the two original employees, more than 20 Lowe’s employees and their families attended the meeting to honor them.

Left: Thanks to his job at Lowe’s, Blayne Lippert earns a salary, has full benefits, and was recently able to purchase his own car. Above: The workday begins early for Blayne and his co-worker Jerry. Their shift runs from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

employees. Working with the distribution center staff and BVI job coaches, they learn day-to-day operations, including loading and unloading trailers of products for retail stores throughout the Midwest region. Their training also includes securing products on pallets for shipment and placing items into inventory. Finally, they receive extensive training in workplace safety, critically important in a warehouse environment. Blayne applied and was soon accepted as a trainee in the outreach program at the local Lowe’s Distribution Center. He progressed quickly through the trainee phase of his employment, learning the job and demonstrating his ability to keep up with the strenuous, fast-paced work. Blayne excelled at his work, achieving a success rate of 150 percent during his training period. He moved directly into full-time employment with Lowe’s at the end of 90 days. He now earns more than $12 an hour and receives full benefits through Lowe’s. In fact, Blayne is now saving for retirement, something his mother never dreamed possible just a few short years ago. She adds that he also has purchased a new car, decked out with items from his favorite team, the Detroit Tigers. Now, two years into the project, Lowe’s is experiencing widespread benefits from it. The Lowe’s project has provided more than just opportunities for those with disabilities. It has increased awareness of working with individuals with disabilities among the company’s other employees. Distribution center employees went through disability awareness training in the beginning. When the Hancock

Recently, a young man with a hearing impairment joined the team, creating a potentially serious communication issue that could have become a possible safety issue. Without any prompting from management, Lowe’s hearing employees took it upon themselves to learn sign language in order to communicate with him. Now they talk about work and about what they do away from the job. One special Lowe’s employee also recognized that a few others were struggling with their work. To let them know that everyone supported them, he shared a video of a high school basketball player with autism who had scored 20 points for his team in the division tournament. When the crowd rushed the floor to cheer the young man in the video, the employee shouted, “This is how we feel about you! We believe in you; you can do this!” The attitude of the Lowe’s employees is a reflection of the management at the distribution center. Sadly, the project recently lost one of its greatest advocates with the passing of the HR Director Allen Cox. He believed in diversity and had been a champion for the employees from BVI and every other

individual with a disability. His guidance and support were significant in moving the project forward and will be truly missed. “The people who work at the facility become more independent, make new friends, and become more confident, but most of all, they become part of the Lowe’s family,” Ferguson says. “That was a big part of Allen’s vision for the program, and the fact that it has come true is testament to his legacy in the program.” Natalie Lippert echoes her sentiment. “In just one short year, we have seen a complete transformation in Blayne,” she explains. “His self-esteem is off the charts. He’s developed a friendship with a Lowe’s co-worker and they go to Detroit to watch the Tigers.” “The ultimate goal of a parent is to see their child happy and feel good about themselves,” she adds. “Because of the community employment program at BVI and Lowe’s, my husband and I have achieved that goal for our son.” Lippert’s hope for the future is that all communities will follow in the footsteps of BVI and its community employment program, giving individuals with disabilities the opportunity work side by side in the community, earn a competitive wage, and build self-esteem. For many, including the job coaches, that is reason enough to be part of Lowe’s and the BVI community employment program. Since the inception of the Lowe’s program, interest in employing individuals with disabilities has spread throughout the community.

Blayne checks in through the security gate before heading to his work station at the 110-acre Lowe’s Distribution Center in Findlay.

“We have seen a tremendous increase in opportunities for community employment where individuals can earn at least minimum wage and, at times, benefits,” Ms. Ferguson adds. “These jobs literally change the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, lifting them out of poverty and isolation.”

The Community Employment program at Blanchard Valley Industries has been funded by three grants from the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission. All individuals served reside in Hancock and surrounding counties. The program has been one of the most successful in the state of Ohio, with Hancock County being the only one to record a 100 percent increase in employee placement during 2010-2011. The success of the Lowe’s project has enabled BVI Community Employment to expand its services with enclaves, contract work, community based assessments, and independent placements.

DD Advocate Magazine


DD Leaders

A decade of online education at The Training Center BY ADAM HERMAN / OACB


For professionals and policymakers in Ohio’s DD service delivery system, staying current with best practices in any specialty area can seem like a never-ending task. As systems of service and support continue evolving, even the most seasoned veterans must work hard to stay up to date with the latest methods of service delivery while maintaining and sharpening their existing knowledge of the field.

The initial site – MRDD Training – was launched in 2003, and offered just three courses to help board members of county boards of DD as well as provider agency staff meet their credentialing requirements with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (then, the Ohio Department of MRDD).

Since 2003, The Training Center has offered DD professionals a fast, easy, and convenient way to accomplish this task. Developed and maintained by OACB, this online-only training program has become a leader in online education for board staff, provider agencies, and county board members throughout the state.

Courses for annual recertification – including Major Unusual Incident Reporting and Rights for Individuals Developmental Disabilities – were perennial bestsellers.

As The Training Center nears its 10th birthday, OACB’s Dan Ohler and Kim Linkinhoker sat down with DD Advocate to re-introduce the site to a new generation of DD professionals who may not be aware of all that is available to them, as well as discuss a number of brand new course offerings that are sure to interest former users who may not know what they’ve been missing.

Humble beginnings When they first started, Ohler and Linkinhoker knew they wanted to eventually host a rich and robust training site for those serving people with DD – but weren’t entirely sure of the best way to start one from scratch. “We were creating something that nobody had really thought about doing on a large scale,” Ohler said. “We knew that courses for minimum certification requirements were going to be the bare minimum, but we also wanted to offer courses dedicated to emerging philosophies and technologies that would result in better supports and services for people with developmental disabilities. Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us.”


Fall 2012

New demand for diverse courses

As customer feedback began to come in, however, Linkinhoker realized that there was a much higher demand for additional course offerings than had been anticipated. With that in mind, OACB convened various stakeholders from around the state and held discussions on what training needs existed beyond the minimum certification requirements. “There was a large demand from Service and Support Administrators at county boards,” Linkinhoker said. “They wanted a curriculum that would teach basic information on providing good customer and case management, so we developed a 30-hour seminar for new SSAs on HCBS waivers, interviewing techniques, and other best practices-style coursework.” “Our customers’ needs have always driven this program, and I think that is evident in our product,” Ohler added. Over the next five years, more than a dozen courses were researched, constructed, and ultimately approved by DODD for continuing education credit – slowly but surely fulfilling the forward-looking aspect OACB’s original vision. In 2008, an expanded and enhanced training site was launched and re-named The Training Center – the site most customers are familiar with today.

An evolving customer base As the platform grew in popularity, it became apparent from sales analyses that The Training Center’s customer base was slowly beginning to shift. Although the initial target audience was county board staff, independent service providers had quickly grown into a strong sales segment. “We discovered that independent providers lacked an understanding on what it meant to become a provider in the Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver system, so we developed courses that taught them the fundamentals,” Linkinhoker said. “Independent providers do not have the luxury of substitute staff to fill in when they are away from work at a training event,” he continued. “They discovered that they could take our courses on their own schedule, and I think that’s the reason they have been such loyal customers, even until today.” As is to be expected, with the new influx of customers came new ideas for additional courses – prompting Linkinhoker to once again reach out to a variety of stakeholders within the system for additional input on course material. One of those stakeholders was Peggy Nemeth-Wright, a former DODD staff member who has gradually become the chief curriculum writer for much of the content that is found on the Training Center today. “Peggy’s ability to organize and make sense of a wide variety of materials from our subject matter experts has produced a very high-quality training product,” Linkinhoker said. “I don’t think we’d have nearly the breadth, depth, or quality of coursework that we have now without Peggy’s contributions.” As of this publication, the breadth of The Training Center spans 27 different offerings that range from one to eight credit hours in length, as well as one 30-hour seminar.

Linkinhoker believes the possibilities are endless for developing new coursework as the site enters its second decade of operation. “We just added two new courses on Assistive Technology and the SELF Waiver, and are developing another course the area of children’s services that should be ready soon,” said Linkinhoker. “There are so many topics out there that we would like to get into, but we also want to maintain the high quality of our product. Our goal is not to be the fastest source of new training information; it is to be the best.”

to the success of the program. Customers can purchase courses with a credit card, and agencies may use purchase orders and receive a bill after the fact from OACB.” County boards can also inquire about group pricing models for large in-service days or arrangements outside the individual training model most use on the site.

Staying competitive Along with improvements in content, the delivery method for Training Center courses is also undergoing renovation. To capitalize on the growth in popularity of online video since The Training Center launched, OACB staff are currently working on video content that will be unique to individual courses – some of which may feature county board staff and people who receive services in the county board system. The pricing structure of coursework is an important aspect of the model that is also monitored frequently. “We continually review our competition’s offerings and what they charge, using that information to assist in the pricing of the course offerings,” said Linkinhoker. Ease of billing is also important

Looking toward the future OACB has plans to continue to increase and expand its course offerings in The Training Center. Staff will soon be conducting a systems-wide needs assessment survey to assist in the prioritization and direction for developing new courses. “We hope people will take the time to look at all of our course offerings, but we understand that it may seem a bit intimidating for first-timers,” Linkinhoker said. “That is why we recently stopped charging for one of its courses – Introduction

to Developmental Disabilities – to offer first-time users the chance to preview the training model with no financial risk.” “The free course is a really easy way to get comfortable with the system,” Ohler said. “We hope it will give people an incentive to check it out. There’s no reason not to at this point.” The Training Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at www.oacbdd.org/training, with live technical support available between 9am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) at (614) 431-0616.


30-Hour Seminar

Individual courses

(A condensed version of each course in this seminar may be taken individually)

Bloodborne Pathogens (Universal

Historical Perspective of Services to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

Current Philosophy and Best Practices Structure and Duties of County Boards of DD

Understanding Medicaid – The Basics Life Span Services and Supports Overview of Individual Options and Level One Waivers

Service and Support Administration


Introduction to Developmental Disabilities

Individual Rights Major Unusual Incidents So you Want to be a Provider Eligibility and Services Statute, Powers and Duties of the Board Ohio’s Open Meeting Act and Public Records Law

The Ethics Council Funding Overview Personnel: Ohio Law Regarding Public Employees

The Role of the Board Introduction to Medicaid at the

Eight Hour Required Provider Training for DODD Medicaid Waiver Services

Analysis of HIPAA Privacy Rules for DD Boards

Overview of Recent Changes in HIPAA and Ohio Privacy Laws

Transition to Adulthood: One Step at a Time (Part 1)

Transition to Adulthood: One Step at a Time (Part 2)

Using a Person-Centered Approach to Living a Good Life

Increased Independence through Assistive Technology and Remote Monitoring

SELF Waiver – Individual-Directed Waiver Services

National Level

DD Advocate Magazine


Fall Feature

From school to work Bridges to Transition raises job expectations for teens BY KRISTEN HELLING / OACB


When I was 17 years old, my two best friends and I decided to enter the world of gainful employment. We applied for waitress jobs at a local family restaurant, and soon discovered that serving runny eggs and bitter coffee to Sunday morning diners was not all it was cracked up to be. Tips were poor, but then again, so was our service. And, oh, how I hated working in the smoking section.


Fall 2012

What is Bridges to Transition? Bridges is a Vocational Rehabilitation Public Private Partnership (VRP3) between County Boards of Developmental Disabilities and the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (RSC). Bridges focuses on transition youth, ages 14 to 22, who are eligible for both county board and RSC services. The overall goal of the project is to enhance career exploration options and increase employment outcomes by developing a comprehensive pattern of services that will assist students in achieving their employment goals. Participating county boards contribute match funds to pull down federal vocational rehabilitation dollars allocated to the state in order to support their Bridges program. This allows county boards to maintain control of their project, and enables them to define their target population, with a majority of funds spent on transition youth.


Above: Jordan Brown learned a variety of job skills as part of his Bridges experience, like how to clock in/out and perform other routine tasks without supervision.

Each year, thousands of young people with developmental disabilities transition from school to adulthood. For many, the next phase of life does not include post-secondary education or a job. Instead, these young people are placed on a pre-determined path toward sheltered employment, which is not frequently focused on their strengths or interests. With the Bridges to Transition program, we hope to change that.

How it all started I enjoyed the camaraderie of the restaurant staff, but I really disliked the job. To be honest, I wasn’t very good at it. By the time I turned 18, my career in food service had come to an end – a reason for diners everywhere to celebrate. As I look back on this experience, I’ve come to realize that my first job had a huge influence on my future vocational goals. I tried, I failed, and I never looked back, but I had the opportunity to explore a career – which ultimately helped me choose a different path. Do you remember your first job? Chances are, it offered a first glimpse at responsibility and taught you about priorities. It probably isn’t what you’re doing today, but it may have played a part in helping you make future career choices. The exhilaration of earning a paycheck for a day’s work is a rite of passage for many young people. The opportunity to make choices about the kind of work we do is something most of us take for granted. Unfortunately, for a substantial number of teens with developmental disabilities, that choice is often made for them.

Bridges to Transition was the brainchild of OACB’s Kim Linkinhoker and former Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission Administrator Michael Rench, who approached the Association in 2008 in search of a way to increase the state agency’s support of vocational rehabilitation programs for people with developmental disabilities. When developing the project, Linkinhoker immediately saw the potential to change how our system views employment by significantly increasing the amount of energy and resources devoted to young people transitioning from high school to adulthood. The argument in favor of this approach was clear: By encouraging students to focus on post-school goals at an early age, the program would better prepare them for a successful transition to adult independence – and away from traditional sheltered workshops. RSC shared this perspective, and a program was born. Officially launched in 2009, Bridges now operates in 36 counties in all corners of the state. OACB acts as project manager

for the program, which is currently serving more than 1,200 transition-age youth with developmental disabilities across Ohio.

What does the program do? Bridges to Transition introduces students with developmental disabilities to the world of work through career exploration experiences. Students participate in services designed to help them discover their potential, and then capitalize on their strengths and abilities to find community jobs where they can be successful for the long term. In all counties participating in the Bridges program, the county board of DD (or its designated employment agency) retains a vocational rehabilitation coordinator, who acts as the liaison between the county board and RSC. Coordinators work closely with families and schools to engage all parties in the transition planning process, which includes identifying needs and providing students with the tools necessary to find and keep a job. They also work closely with community employers and vendors to develop group and individualized summer work experiences, job shadowing, and other career exploration activities.

Changing the paradigm Traditionally, students with disabilities are not afforded the same opportunities for community employment compared to their non-disabled peers and are more likely to experience unemployment, underemployment, and poverty. Additionally, individuals with disabilities are less likely to find steady or satisfying employment. DD Advocate Magazine


Fall Feature

In Ohio, less than 6% of available adult service funding is spent on placing and supporting people with developmental disabilities in the general workforce. The majority of funding supports segregated employment (sheltered workshops), facility-based employment (sheltered employment enclaves), and day habilitation (social and/or recreational programs). While these options are important and valued, integrated employment should be the preferred outcome and priority option explored – especially for those who have yet to formally enter the job market after high school. The low percentage of supported employment funding in Ohio has historically been attributed to the lack of funding incentives for providers. The supported employment rate in Ohio was recently raised, but the funding structure still favors sheltered services. Further, more local levy dollars (as opposed to federal Medicaid waivers) fund the majority of supported employment services in Ohio. This makes supporting integrated employment programs a difficult choice for local administrators, who are often forced to choose between dozens of worthy programs when budgeting dollars that will not be matched by federal funds. Ohio isn’t the only state struggling to provide sufficient alternatives to segregated employment. Earlier this year, 2,300 Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities filed a class action lawsuit in a federal court in Portland, seeking to require the state to provide supported employment services in an integrated employment setting. In June, The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a findings letter on its investigation into sheltered workshops, notifying Oregon of its failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and concluding that the state fails to provide employment and vocational services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. In the findings letter, the DOJ recommends two remedial measures. First, that Oregon “develop sufficient supported employment services to enable those who are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.” Second, that the state “must implement an effective plan to transition people with intellectual and developmental disabilities unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops to supported employment.” 16

Fall 2012


Above: One of Jordan’s many responsibilities is keeping stockroom shelves organized at Rose’s.

The DOJ report says what many professionals in the DD field have believed for years. It also succinctly puts these beliefs on paper with the backing of the federal government’s law enforcement arm. “Work is undoubtedly at the core of how most Americans spend their time, contribute as taxpayers, relate to society, and, importantly, access the full benefits of citizenship, including economic self-sufficiency, independence, personal growth, and self-esteem,” the report states. “The civil rights of people who can and want to receive employment services in the community are violated when they are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops.” Many people identify themselves by what they do… Chef. Teacher. Doctor. Mechanic. Social worker. In addition to the obvious benefit of providing us with a source of financial support, meaningful work promotes better health, safety, and happiness through the relationships we develop. For most of us, our jobs are a source of pride and often how we measure our self-worth, contributing to our quality of life. While Ohio’s system was gradually moving in the direction of community employment, developments like this one at the federal level (and others at the state level – see outset on page 19) are pushing our system down this path at an accelerated pace. Programs like Bridges are endeavoring to raise expectations about what people with disabilities can do, affirming that everyone can work and there is a job for everyone.

Getting results: Success stories Meet Jordan Brown. Jordan is a recent graduate of Lancaster High School in Fairfield County. He met his vocational rehabilitation coordinator, Amy Parker, in

“The civil rights of people who can and want to receive employment services in the community are violated when they are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops.” — U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

Spring 2011 – approximately one year before he planned to exit school. Over the course of that year, Jordan participated in a number of services intended to prepare him for community employment, including strengths assessments, summer work experiences, job readiness/travel trainings, a benefits analysis, and job coaching. A vocational evaluation identified Jordan’s career interests and evaluated his strengths, aptitudes, and skills. Assessments such as these are crucial to successful transition planning, because when a student is engaged and supported in discovering strengths and interests, as well as provided with an opportunity to gain skills, he or she is much better prepared to succeed in the workplace. In this respect, preparing students with disabilities for the workforce is the same as preparing their non-disabled peers – they simply require more extensive and individualized support. Vocational goals, when based on a student’s strengths as well as their


Above: Warren County Bridges students gain valuable work experience at King’s Island Amusement Park in Mason. Pictured here are (back row) Ian Maloney, (middle row) Robbie Brewer, Jacob Smith, Ryan Preston, (front row) Jacob Breakfield, and Irvin Grabp.

preferences and interests, build upon what a student can do - not what they can’t do. Jordan was able to capitalize on his strong organizational skills when he worked in the school store as part of his high school’s work-study program. “Jordan loves to organize. In his room, he has a specific place for all of his things. He works well with his hands, but he prefers the indoors,” Amy said. “A job in retail is perfect for him.” The summer before his senior year of high school, Jordan experienced a number of community employment locations during his summer youth program, including a family restaurant, a shopping center, and a car wash, where on-site job coaches assisted Jordan in gaining work skills. Summer youth programs are a common theme in Bridges projects across the state, as they provide an opportunity for students to try out employment at a time when their typical peers are also experiencing first jobs. Bridges Coordinators work with vendors in their area to develop integrated community jobs. Most programs pay students at minimum wage, further reinforcing the benefits of working in the community. The program is typically a combination of actual work experiences along with vocational skill building, including tips on interviewing and learning appropriate work behaviors. Community-based summer youth sites across the state reflect the diversity of each local region and the unique employment opportunities that exist therein. For instance,


Above: Walgreen’s manager Dave Cox poses with Bridges summer youth participants Nathan Edwards, Austin Meyer, and Zach Ridgway at their job site in Defiance.

Bridges partners in Hamilton and Warren Counties hold a work experience at nearby King’s Island Amusement Park, just north of Cincinnati. Stark County students work at a local university, as well as various retail establishments. Students in Defiance County stock shelves at a local Walgreen’s, and Franklin County students work at the Columbus Zoo. Knox County’s Bridges summer career camp takes vocational skill building to the next level with community-based field trips to local employers. Younger students who are new to the world of work – primarily 14- and 15-year-olds – approach employers and business owners of local community businesses and ask for applications. This exercise not only encourages students to practice basic job seeking skills, it introduces young people with disabilities to employers as potential workers, encouraging them to appreciate diversity in their employees and recognize the contributions of workers with disabilities. In order to help Jordan understand how employment could impact his disability benefits, his Bridges coordinator referred him for a benefits analysis. Through this process, Jordan was able to learn how potential work incentives could help him make the transition to employment after high school. Arming beneficiaries with an understanding of work incentives allows them to take charge of their own careers and make employment and health care decisions based on accurate and complete information.

An example of one such work incentive is Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs), which are only utilized by 0.43% of all SSI recipients in Ohio. This incentive can allow a beneficiary to deduct expenses from their gross income for certain items or services that are related to their disability and necessary to go to work. For instance, those who are unable to drive because of their disability may be able to summit an IRWE for certain allowable transportation expenses. Another work incentive, Medicaid Buy-In for Workers with Disabilities (MBIWD), allows workers with disabilities to qualify for Medicaid with higher income and resource limits by paying a premium for the health care insurance based on income. No premiums are charged until the beneficiary exceeds 150% of the federal poverty level, currently $14,700 for a single person, and premiums can’t exceed 10% of gross earnings. The asset limit for MBIWD is $10,000, substantially higher than the limit of $1,500 for regular Medicaid eligibility. This allows a person to earn a modest income without having to worry that they will lose health coverage – a major concern for most people served by county boards. After learning about these work incentives, Jordan returned to high school to complete his final year. During the school year, Amy referred him to a job training program called Work Steps, a service provided by Functional Training Services (FTS), so that he could continue to build his work skills in a supportive environment before transitioning to community employment. Throughout this DD Advocate Magazine


Fall Feature


Above: Jessica Frost cleans pots and pans as a porter in the dietary department of Springfield Regional Medical Center.

program, he attended school for part of the day to meet his academic requirement for graduation, and either trained in-house at FTS or worked on his skills on-site at various businesses in the community. One of these community-based sites, Rose’s Department Store, was Jordan’s training ground for several weeks. Working closely with job coach Fred Hill and the staff at Rose’s, Jordan learned vocational skills to prepare him for the world of work. Topics they covered included the importance of arriving to work on time, how to use a time card and punch clock, and learning appropriate topics of conversation with co-workers and supervisors. This catalog of skills, which Jordan affectionately termed “the Book of Fred,” may seem basic. For students with disabilities, however, learning them can be crucial to workplace survival. Jordan stocks shelves in the grocery section at Rose’s, again embracing his strong organizational skills and desire to work with his hands. Although timid at first, Jordan’s skills in the workplace and knowledge of his tasks steadily improved until he was increasingly more independent and gained confidence in his abilities. After nearly three months of training at this site, Rose’s offered Jordan a job as a retail stockperson. He now earns a competitive wage and is currently working approximately 16 hours per week. Jordan’s success at Rose’s comes as no surprise to mom, Alissa Brown. “I knew Jordan 18

Fall 2012

Above: Clark County Project Search intern Alyson Hawkins catalogs medical supplies at Springfield Regional Medical Center.

could do this. He is an exceptional person. We have always set expectations for him,” she says. “Sometimes, I knew he wouldn’t reach them, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t set them.” Jordan has been successfully employed at Rose’s for more than 90 days, which means Amy will soon be closing his Bridges case. Services through RSC are considered time-limited, but Amy has already begun the process for transferring Jordan’s services to Community Employment Services at Fairfield County Board of DD, who will provide supported employment follow-along services for as long as Jordan needs them. This transition to extended services is a key component to the sustainability of community employment, and an example of how programs like Bridges can support a substantial portion of the up-front costs associated with job readiness training, placement and coaching before county boards have to step in with local dollars (or waiver services) to continue making progress.

Forging new partnerships Internship training programs for transition youth are an increasingly popular option in preparation for community employment. Project Search, which is a partnership between local school districts and RSC, accepts a limited number of students each year to intern at community sites during the school day. Students who have earned all of their graduation credits can participate in

the program, which is a combination of a functional academic curriculum combined with community work experiences. Generally, these programs take place at large facilities like universities or medical centers, where students are given an opportunity to try out multiple jobs through rotations. This exposure to a variety of career options allows students to identify preferences and interests, and may ultimately lead to employment at the facility or a similar site. Bridges to Transition in Clark County was instrumental in establishing a Project Search program at the Springfield Regional Medical Center (SRMC). For its pilot year, two students from Clark County Career Technical Center (CTC) participated in the program, cleaning patients’ rooms, washing dishes, and preparing meals, with the support of job coaches from United Rehabilitation Services and CTC instructor Jeana Sullivan. The program has been so successful that it’s expanding for the current school year with seven new interns. These Project Search interns may work alongside another successful Bridges graduate. Jessica Frost, who was hired at SRMC in January, met Bridges Coordinator Leslie Collier when she was a senior in the hospitality program at CTC. Jessica’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) stated that her future vocational goal was to work in the dietary department of a hospital. Using this information as a starting point,

Springfield, a move she and some friends plan to make in the very near future.

Raising expectations As recognized by Governor Kasich in his Employment First Executive Order (see outset on this page), people with developmental disabilities have the right to make informed decisions about where they work. When we provide support to people with developmental disabilities in pursuing competitive integrated employment, we are also providing opportunities for people to live as independently as possible, to provide for themselves, and to contribute to our economy.


Above: Michael Cabassa, a Stark County Bridges student, prices shoes at a retail store during his summer youth work experience.

Leslie referred Jessica for a community-based assessment at SRMC to assess her strengths and interests and give her an opportunity to further explore this career. Jessica excelled at this work experience, learning the tasks of the job with the aid of a job coach. She was a hard worker, eager to learn, and got along well with her supervisors and co-workers. Although she struggled with pace of work, concentration, and focus, her job coach assisted her with strategies to help her overcome these obstacles. These efforts were rewarded when SRMC offered her a job, which Jessica quickly accepted. She is now happily employed as a porter, where she is responsible for washing dishes, preparing food items, and keeping the kitchen area tidy. If you ask Jessica whether or not she enjoys her work, you’ll likely get a firm response. “This is my dream job,” she says. Who wouldn’t want to help a person achieve their dreams? Because Jessica would need reliable transportation to get to and from her job, Leslie referred her for a driver’s evaluation to assess her ability to safely operate a car. Intensive driver’s training was recommended, and after several months of practice with a driver’s training specialist, Jessica successfully passed her examination and received her license. Jessica is now working 32 hours per week and earning a competitive hourly wage. The next big step for Jessica is an apartment in

At Bridges, our hope is that – by raising expectations with students, parents, staff,

and the community at large – employment for people with developmental disabilities will no longer be a one-way street toward a sheltered workshop. We are dedicated to providing young people with the opportunity to obtain community jobs so that they can experience greater earnings, better benefits, improved health, and greater quality of life. Change is possible – it just takes time and effort. If you or someone in your life would like to learn more about participating in the Bridges to Transition program, or would like to learn more about providing transition services outside the Bridges program at your county board, contact us at bridges@oacbdd.org.

Employment First: At A Glance On March 19, 2012, Governor John Kasich signed Executive Order 2012-05K, which established community employment as “the priority and the preferred outcome for working-age Ohioans with disabilities.” It created the Employment First Task Force and Employment First Advisory Committee, as well as a number of specific programmatic goals, including: Reviewing and aligning policies, procedures, eligibility, and enrollment and planning for services for individuals, with the objective of increasing opportunities for community employment for Ohioans with developmental disabilities;


Developing cross-agency tools to document eligibility, order of selection, assessment and planning for services for individuals; Identifying best practices, effective partnerships, sources of available federal funds, opportunities for shared services among existing providers and county boards of developmental disabilities, and the means to expand model programs, to increase community employment opportunities for those with developmental disabilities; Identifying and addressing areas where sufficient support is not currently available or where additional options are needed to assist those with developmental disabilities to work in community jobs; Establishing interagency agreements to improve coordination of services and allow for data sharing as appropriate; and Setting benchmarks for improving community employment outcomes/services. The Bridges to Transition Team is proud to support the Employment First Initiative by assisting high school students with developmental disabilities in finding appropriate jobs using skills best suited to their abilities.

DD Advocate Magazine


News in a Nutshell





The seventh annual Marimor Idol Final was held June 28 at Allen East Local Schools with 12 individuals vying to be this year’s Marimor Idol. The 12 finalists were judged on stage presence, vocal quality, and wardrobe. Song selections spanned several genres and included rock, pop, soul, gospel, and country. Johnny McClellan, who performed the James Brown classic, “I Feel Good,” was named the 2012 Marimor Idol winner. Rodney Green, singing “I Remember,” finished in second place and was also voted the winner of the People’s Choice Award by the audience. Lester James and John Musto finished in third and fourth places, respectively. Cash prizes were given to all 12 participants, as well as Marimor Idol t-shirts, CDs and participation medals. Mr. McClellan was also invited to sing at the Allen County Karaoke Contest at the Allen County Fair. For more information about Marimor Industries, Inc., visit www.marimorindustries.org.

Athens DD’s Summer Youth Employment Program was featured on the front page of the July 12 edition of The Athens News. PersonnelPlus has trained and placed workers with disabilities in jobs in the Athens County workforce for nearly 30 years. The PersonnelPlus slogan is “Partnerships in Employment That Work.” The PersonnelPlus Summer Youth Employment Program is designed to help students transition from high school to work.

In July the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields were opened in Fairfield, OH. The field is the only one of its kind, featuring two rubberized game playing surfaces, completely accessible grounds, and special features like misters in the dugouts, stadium-style seating for fans, and designated playing areas for siblings. Construction of the fields was truly a community effort. The volunteer-led local Therapeutic Recreation Board organized a team of volunteers and a huge web of community connections: more than 100 businesses donated time, goods and labor to build the fields. For more information visit www.nuxhallmiracleleague.org.


Early Intervention Specialists at Ashtabula DD are always on the lookout for ways to enhance the bonding process between infants with special needs served and their parents. With this end in mind, the board hosted a 4-day training provided by the International Association of Infant Massage. This training, along with several months of fieldwork, will enable Early Intervention Specialists Kathleen Caldwell, Molly Dye and Amanda Weed to become Certified Educators of Infant Massage (CEIM). CEIM’s are able to train parents on how to massage their children to foster closeness, relax stiff muscles, and aid digestion. Kathleen, Molly and Amanda are passionate about sharing the age-old art of infant massage and parents are equally as enthusiastic.


Fall 2012

Auglaize Auglaize DD is very proud of the sixty-one athletes who participated in the recent Special Olympics in Columbus. The coaches of these athletes were presented with plaques of appreciation from the Board for their service and dedication at the August Board meeting. The Auglaize County Commissioners and Senator Keith Faber attended this meeting. Kudos to the athletes and their coaches!

Belmont With members of the St. Clairsville Chamber of Commerce, Tomorrow’s Corner founder Lisa Kazmirski cuts the ribbon marking the grand opening of a gift shop that features art created by people with developmental disabilities. Assisting her is Vera Swallow (center), whose work is available for purchase at the store.

The New Corner Store, a gift shop featuring original artwork, wooden benches, and other home décor items handcrafted by people with disabilities, opened in St. Clairsville in July. Funded in part by a grant from Belmont DD, the shop is an affiliate of day service provider Tomorrow’s Corner. One-of-a-kind gifts and custom-made projects are also available, including alphabet letters, personalized collages and wreaths.

Carroll Carroll Hills School will be on the ballot in November for a 1-mill renewal levy to operate the Carroll Hills School. If approved, the levy will not expire for 10 years. The Board continues to struggle with the reduction in revenue and has made plans to shift staff resources throughout the entire Board’s operations in order to best utilize limited resources. The Board has also adopted a strategic plan to reduce its staff, which will reduce the current staff level of 82 by an additional nine employees to 73 - down from 94 in 2012.

Champaign Sparkling cider, fresh flowers, and dancing were all part of Lawnview Industries 21st Annual Employee Awards on May 31. Special honors went to Emily Henry, Anna Nagy, Chris Teets and Molly Traylor, who all received Certificates of Recognition from the Ohio House of Representatives for their artwork. Award winners included: Emily Henry (Miss Congeniality), David Stewart and Derrick Gibson (tied for Mr. Congeniality), Chrissy Brake (Miss Funny), Philip McCain (Mr. Funny), Anna Nagy (Miss Healthy Lifestyle), Chris Bridges (Mr. Healthy Lifestyle), April Shaw and Keely Zimmer (tied for Miss Dedicated Worker) and Bruce Bumgarner (Mr. Dedicated Worker).

Clark Clark DD will ask voters to approve a 1.75 mill 8-year levy to continue quality services to the 1,100 individuals with developmental

disabilities in Clark County on November 6. The Clark County Community has successfully passed every request for levy support for those with disabilities. Since the last levy initiative, which was in the fall of 2003, the number of service recipients has grown by 29% in Clark County. Levy efforts through outreach, community education, and fundraising continue as the November 6 election day approaches.

Clinton Clinton County has a new adult program director. Teresa McMullen has been hired as the Executive Director of Orion, Inc. Teresa has many years of experience in the field of DD and is sure to do a tremendous job. Congratulations, Teresa - welcome aboard!

Coshocton More than 400 people were in attendance at Coshocton DD’s 4th Annual Freedom Festival on July 13. The festival, sponsored by the Board’s adult program at Hopewell Industries, focuses on the successes and accomplishments of adults with developmental disabilities. Adults and families from Coshocton, Muskingum, Guernsey, Knox, and Jefferson Counties were on hand for the event. Several individuals from Coshocton, Muskingum and Guernsey Counties were featured presenters and received commendations from the President of the Board of County Commissioners, Dane Shryock, in honor of their achievements. In addition, Coshocton County’s First Responders were honored for their service and dedication to those in need in Coshocton County. Many fun activities were held such as: a Sheriff’s Department K-9 demonstration, carnival and water balloon games, a dunk tank, and more. A silent cake auction generated more than $600, all of which will be given to local charities in Coshocton County. Also, more than 100 pounds of non-perishable food items were collected and donated to local food pantries. In other news, Hopewell School’s PTO sponsored the first ever Spring Carnival in May. The event was for families and students of Hopewell School. More than 100 people were in attendance for the free event. Amanda Fink, a Hopewell Parent, did fun Silly Family Portraits as a service of her business “Beloved Images.” The purpose of the Spring Carnival is to bring families together to celebrate a successful school year.

Delaware Anthony Billups, an up and coming star from Nashville, performed at the 4th annual Focus on Abilities Variety Show. Billups is promoting positive awareness for people with disabilities while on tour this summer. Performing with Billups were his brother Nick, who has a disability, and people who receive services from Delaware DD. All proceeds from the event go towards promoting further awareness for people with disabilities. A video of Billups can be viewed at http://anthonybillups.com/special.

Defiance Defiance County continues to have success with its Bridges program. One person was recently placed in community employment and two other individuals started their community jobs in August and September.

Fairfield Fairfield DD dedicated its accessible Tree House along the Lancaster Sensory Trail with an unconventional “ribbon” cutting. Volunteers who helped build the structure cut a 1x6 cedar board with a circular saw (see below) to officially open the 1,300-square-foot structure, which is the newest feature of the 900-foot trail that includes a sensory park with outdoor musical instruments and views of a babbling brook. Future plans include accessible swings and a boardwalk through an enhanced wetland area. The entire project was completed by volunteers with donated money, materials, and time.

Employment First initiatives. The Board will continue to support 6-13 year old students in school district buildings and will continue to provide inclusive preschool services.

Geauga Summer Camp at Geauga DD was busy and exciting this year! With almost 70 campers and staff, plenty of activities, and warm, sunny days, the fun didn’t stop! There were plenty of events like Rockin’ Robots, a dog show, an international food day, a treasure hunt, talent show, and swimming. But one of the most fun days was when Skipper, the Lake County Captains mascot, came and played softball with the campers. Skipper pitched while the campers batted and ran the bases, and the staff played in the field. Once the game ended, Skipper visited with the camp groups.

Greene Greene, Inc., the Board’s nonprofit vocational enclave, recently began a free, in-house recycling program that employs 10 individuals with autism. This new program will not only allow those on the autism spectrum to secure employment, it also frees up space in the Adult Service’s day hab units.

Guernsey Ten Guernsey County residents with developmental disabilities participated in the Bridges to Transition Summer Youth Program. Bridges gave these young people the opportunity to gain work experience for five weeks at seven locations throughout the county. Shown washing windows are Phillip Day and Derick Martin with their supervisor, Job Coach Bobbie Mason.

Franklin Franklin DD has approved a reorganization of its school programs to be effective with the 2014-2015 school year. Schools operated by Franklin DD will only accept students age 14-22 who will study a curriculum focused on transition to adulthood with concentration on

DD Advocate Magazine


News in a Nutshell Hamilton


Superintendent Alice Pavey was a featured guest columnist in The Community Press sharing information about how to prevent fraud against people with disabilities, in cooperation with County Commissioner Greg Hartmann’s Coalition to Stop Fraud, Scams, and Abuse. The information Pavey presented was also used in stories by WXIX-TV and 55 WKRC radio.

Hocking DD recently held a reception for Sandy Conner, who retired after 18 years of service. Sandy was an integral part of Hocking DD and Hocking Valley Industries. She coached basketball, track and field, and unified softball. She organized annual teams to walk in the Relay for Life Walk and organized the team for the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournaments. She was instrumental in promoting social activities by starting book clubs, organizing a movie night and arranging activities and community involvement for the Senior Group participants. Sandy also helped in the Can Do Creations art program, assisting people with the opportunity to express their artistic abilities. One of the main highlights of Sandy’s career came in 2011 when she lead the Hocking Chiefs basketball team to a division state championship title. Thank you, Sandy, for your service to people with developmental disabilities!

Hancock Sixty years ago, a handful of parents joined forces and started the first school for children with developmental disabilities in Hancock County - the Hancock County School for Retarded Children. At the time it was only the second local program available in the state. The school was built on land donated by Tell and Opal Thompson, lifelong residents of Hancock County. Today, Blanchard Valley Center has spread its wings far beyond the classroom doors into the community, serving approximately 486 people. An Anniversary Gala is being planned for October 3 to celebrate 60 years of service to the Hancock County community. All current and former superintendents, principals, board members, employees, providers, and individuals served are encouraged to attend. The event is being held from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Winebrenner Seminary on the University of Findlay Campus, 950 N. Main Street, Findlay.

Harrison L.J. Smith Stair Systems recognized Harrison Industries, the adult services program of Harrison DD, in its July newsletter. L.J. Smith has been a long-time partner with Harrison Industries and recently provided two new contracts to the packaging and assembly services already provided by the non-profits employees. L.J. Smith, of Bowerston, is the largest stair parts manufacturing company in the country.


Fall 2012

Holmes After a successful Spring Festival, the Holmes County Association for Handicapped Citizens has pledged $50,000 toward the establishment of a clinic to help children with genetic disorders in the Holmes County area. The “New Leaf Center” has a Board of Directors and hopes to open in 2013 in office space donated by Dr. Elton Lehman in Mt. Eaton. New Leaf is modeled after Dr. Holmes Morton’s Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, PA and Dr. Wang and the DDC Clinic in Middlefield, Ohio. In other news, local businesses have gotten behind Principal Rhoda Mast’s efforts to put at least two iPads in every classroom to supplement Smart Boards. Pledges have reached the half way mark in the campaign.

Huron The Eighth Annual Art Exhibit - ‘Visions Revealed’ - was held at the Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center Gallery at Norwalk High School from June 15 through July 20. The exhibit featured and celebrated the talents of artists representing both Artist

Open Studio and North Coast Cancer Care. The closing event - “Evening at the Arts” - was a dance performance featuring art from Drawing on Strengths by “Autism Spectrum Kids.” Artist Open Studio, led by Lynda Stoneham and Bill Young, was formed through Huron DD to give people with and without disabilities the opportunity to create fine art and ceramics. The exhibit was viewed by more than 200 attendees and the studio sold 32 pieces, not to mention the many small tile and jewelry items throughout the month-long exhibit. This annual event was sponsored by the Huron DD/Christie Lane, Artist Open Studio, Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center of Norwalk High School, North Coast Cancer Foundation, and Fisher Titus Medical Center.

Jefferson Jefferson DD has agreed to expand its commitment to providing services to infants/ toddlers with developmental disabilities. For many years the Jefferson County Board of Health has served as the lead agency in Jefferson County for providing services to infants/toddlers. Jefferson DD primarily served as the service provider making home visits to assist families in meeting the needs of infants/toddlers. Due to continual cuts in funding, Jefferson DD will now be providing additional help in the areas of assessment and supervision. The Jefferson County Board of Health was forced to make staffing cuts, making it unable to continue providing the necessary resources and staff to meet the needs in these areas. The Board of Health will remain the fiscal agent, will continue to coordinate child-find efforts, and continue to do service coordination to link families with services.

Knox CARF International announced that Knox DD has earned the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded in the areas of Early Intervention and Service and Support. The Three-Year Accreditation award shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its

commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable, and of the highest quality. In other news, as part of a partnership with the Parent Mentor Program of Knox County, Knox DD held its third annual Education in Action Awards program at the Knox County Career Center Cafetorium. The event recognized students who are not typically recognized for their hard work and achievements. Students were nominated by their teachers or other school staff as an individual or as a group for positively impacting their school and/or community. This year Knox DD awarded 18 individual awards and 5 group awards with a total of 53 students receiving recognition. Several students received multiple awards for their achievements.

Lake Lake DD has strived to develop partnerships with community groups, businesses, organizations, and schools to support its mission. Many people volunteer year after year to provide quality activities, services, and products to those who receive services, creating life-changing memories for everyone involved. This year, two families who support the agency purchased Fire Truck Rides at a recent Deepwood Foundation Auction. They donated the rides back to the agency so people enrolled in agency programs would have the opportunity to ride a fire truck. On May 24, Kevin Patton - a retired fire fighter - donated his time and the use of Phillip the Fire truck. Throughout the day, Kevin and other volunteers assisted more than 200 people in and out of the vehicle. Kevin said that it was all worth it when he saw the smiles on every face as they got off of the fire truck or tried on his fire helmet and jacket. At a separate event, PepsiCo and Frito Lay volunteered at the Willoughby Workshop to provide a carnival for people participating in the Adult Services program. Leonard Freidberg and Janice Barker of PepsiCo/Frito Lay coordinated a full day of fun including games, food and prizes. Chester the Cheetah was there to pass out samples of Cheetos and Doritos while posing

for pictures. In addition to playing games each individual at the workshop received a swag bag from PepsiCo/Frito Lay containing a T-shirt, stuffed animals, and other items. Also, the United Way’s Day of Caring brought three organizations to Lake DD buildings for special projects, which included painting and gardening, while Mentor Rotarians built storage cubbies and renewed the Broadmoor Memory Garden. Students from nearby Ridge Middle School also helped weed and mulch flower beds.

Licking The Service Coordination (SSA) staff of Licking DD is immersed in Person-Centered Thinking training as part of the Region 5 County Collaborative Project with the Mid-Ohio Regional Council of Government and the Ohio Department of DD. They hope to pilot the proposed standardized processes starting this fall.

Lorain In late June Murray Ridge Center participated in the 43rd Annual Ohio State Special Olympics Summer Games in Columbus. 46 Murray Ridge athletes competed in a variety of sporting events, including bocce, volleyball, tennis, track and field, and soccer. Murray Ridge athletes showed impressive performances, taking home many medals and placing first, second, and third in most events! And, for the second year in a row, our undefeated 5-to-a-side soccer team brought home the gold medal! Murray Ridge proudly supports the Special Olympics throughout the year. Congratulations to the Murray Ridge athletes representing Lorain County this year at Ohio State Summer Games.

Lucas The Advocacy Coalition conducted a voters’ forum in September, at which representatives from countywide agencies with levies on the ballot were asked how their services supported people with developmental disabilities. The audience at the forum included people with DD, advocates, and family members. In other news, Lucas DD’s Children’s Options Department sponsored a weeklong camp for youngsters who experience difficulty in getting past training wheels. “Lose the Training Wheels” is for children of all ages with varying forms of disabilities.”

Madison This year, Madison County Special Olympics went back to tradition – fielding a ‘traditional’ volleyball team for the recent State Games. The Tigers volleyball squad was made up entirely of people served by Madison DD. The Tigers rose to the occasion, earning silver medals for their second place finish in the state. The tournament took place June 22-24, 2012 on the campus of The Ohio State University. Members of the team included Bryan Thompson, Jeff Horn, Dale Jones, Ashley Whitelow, Rae Ann Wright, Paul Hiles, Shawn Stewart, Waymond Harris, and John David Zeeck. They were coached by Lincoln Comer and Lexi Comer. The volleyballers weren’t the only successful athletes at the Summer Games. In all, Madison County athletes collected 24 medals and 17 ribbons for their efforts at OSU.

Mahoning St. Elizabeth Health Center recently celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the first open heart surgery in the region. Anne Massullo Sabella, Cora G. Rushton, and Cora “Betty” Rushton, the first patient, stand in front of a photo of Dr. Edmund Massullo.

St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown marked the 50th Anniversary of the first open heart surgery in the region with the dedication of a new family waiting area in honor of Dr. Edmund Massullo, who performed the procedure. The surgery took place on June 11, 1962, when Dr. Massullo and Dr. Angelo Riberi closed a large hole in the heart of 2-year-old Cora “Betty” Rushton. The two-hour operation required that the patient be on an artificial heart machine during part of the procedure. Cora, who is now 52 years old and participates in day programs at the Mahoning DD Bev MASCO center, participated in the dedication ceremony. St. Elizabeth Health Center has been recognized by The US News and World Report as the top hospital in the region and a high performer in cardiology and heart surgery. Cora has long been one of the familiar faces that offers a warm smile and a hearty greeting for anyone entering the doors at the Mahoning DD program at Bev MASCO. DD Advocate Magazine


News in a Nutshell Medina Medina DD presented its very first Safety Town+PLUS during the week of July 23 at the Medina County Achievement Center. The program offered all the regular fun “PLUS” the extra help some children with developmental disabilities may need. Designed for children in grades K-3 with special needs, this program offered activities, games, stories, and crafts to encourage participants to stay safe and make good choices during emergencies. Children with developmental disabilities from across Medina County participated in the five-day program, with each day focusing on one of the following safety lessons: traffic safety, fire safety, gun safety and calling 911, bus safety, and animal safety. During animal safety, the children had the opportunity to interact with therapy dogs and service dogs. The week ended with a graduation ceremony to recognize all children that participated in the program.

Mercer Bill Nietfeld, a gentleman who works in the community and lives in his own apartment with minimal staff assistance from Mercer DD, is a man who is more well known in Mercer County than almost anyone else. Nietfield was selected as Grand Marshal of the Celina Lake Festival Parade on July 28. What a great recognition for Celina’s biggest booster!

Miami Miami DD has a successful Bridges To Transition program in partnership with the Rehabilitation Services Commission, OACB, school systems, employers, and families. The program was designed to provide training to ensure a solid transition from school to work for individuals with developmental disabilities ages 14-22. Miami DD staff developed a curriculum for a Career Exploration Camp where eleven individuals


Fall 2012

ages 15-20 spent three weeks in a classroom setting in addition to community work sites. The topics included interpersonal skills needed in the workplace, keeping safe in the community, aspects of a good work ethic, and the importance of developing healthy habits. To prepare for the summer 2012 camp, participants completed a career interest survey that helped identify what types of jobs they were interested in exploring.

Montgomery Water day activities are just one of the many experiences that are provided to each participant involved in the Montgomery DD summer respite program. Summer Camp offers safe, fun and educational opportunities for children with developmental disabilities who could not be served in typical camps and respite for their families. The three-week program offers morning and afternoon sessions for an average of 20 children each. Other activities include fine motor skills development through arts and crafts, puzzles, and other games; gross motor skills development through daily gym activities and indoor/ outdoor play; and sensory input skills development through water tables, rice tables, a sensory room and tactile-friendly items that promote relaxation and calm. Each child has a 1:1 worker relationship so that in the event of a negative behavior incident, the staff member can assist the child in an appropriate and safe manner. The Community Support Workers are trained and equipped to deal with the needs of each child on an individual basis.

Morgan Morgan DD continues to promote and support self-advocacy activities among those who receive services from the board. In addition to attending Project STIR, activities within the county include the MoCo Stand Up/ Speak Up Group and a Consumer Council

that meets monthly. Board President Roger Calendine and Superintendent Mary Ann Chamberlain attend the Consumer Council meeting to hear first-hand the desires and wishes of the group. These programs have produced many success stories, including Judy, who was awarded the Self-Advocate of the Month award earlier this year. Judy has always been one to allow things to bother her without saying anything. When she does finally say something, she is typically very frustrated causing her to handle the situation in an inappropriate fashion. She allowed others to make decisions for her and would just go along with it. She has more recently spoken up about services that she would like to have in her plan. She informed the team that she wanted to learn to read and this was implemented into her plan. She spoke up during a Council meeting and said that everyone deserves to be treated equally. She went on to say that people with disabilities have the ability to work and should be given the opportunity. She also speaks up about the disadvantages that individuals with disabilities have regarding public transportation. She would like to see the public transportation offer more hours of service so she could access resources in evenings and on weekends.

Muskingum Muskingum DD (Starlight Programs) participated in the Y-Bridge Arts Festival in August. The Festival, in its fourth year, hosted more than two hundred visual artists, craft demonstrators, and performance artists in downtown Zanesville at Zane’s Landing Park. The event allowed Muskingum Starlight Industries (MSI) Heart of Art Studio to showcase its art to the community in a double-booth featuring many talented artists! Starlight Café also joined the festivities by setting up a concession trailer and serving many popular Café menu items. The Y-Bridge Arts Festival was a wonderful opportunity for Muskingum DD to interact with the community that supports the board. Staff and those served by the board are already looking forward to next year’s event.

Perry As summer comes to an end so does another year of Perry DD Summer Camp! Each year the goal of the camp stays the same, which is to allow each camper to be the best that he/she can be. Perry DDs camp offers distinctively designed activities to meet the needs of each camper. During camp a variety of approaches that address key

social, emotional, and environmental issues for each disability group are explored. The activities are blended together within groups to encourage positive social and emotional exchanges between campers and their peers. Each activity the camp provides is devised to provide a combination of activities that allow for both growth and fun. To learn more and to view pictures please visit www.perrydd.org

Perry/Hocking The Bridges Summer Career Program was created to give teens with developmental disabilities the tools they need to have community-based employment in their future. Several important topics are covered during the summer program such as grooming and hygiene, proper work attitude, time management, eye contact, acceptance, positive thinking, abilities, getting along with others, independence, career awareness, self-esteem, how to do laundry, personal space, choosing a career, introducing others, money management and the meaning of words related to employment. Participants also tour different businesses to learn how they operate and become aware of all the job opportunities within a company. This year participants went to Velvet Ice Cream and Fiore’s Bowling Lanes on a combined trip with the Hocking County Bridges Program and the Perry County Bridges Program. The Bridges Summer Career Program also included several worksites giving each participant the chance to experience different types of work. Participants painted recycling buildings for PerCo Inc., took a tour of the recycling building worked at the Perry DD Activity Center beautifying the building and grounds. The Employment Connection thanks those who made this program a success. For additional information about The Employment Connection please visit www.tecohio.org

Preble DODD Assistant Deputy Director Ben Hollinger was guest speaker at the July 10 Preble DD board training session. Ben discussed the Employment First Initiative, a DODD priority program that seeks to change the look of employment for people with disabilities. The initiative includes legislation and an Executive Order to improve collaboration among the Ohio Departments of Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, Education and Job and Family Services, as well as the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, to increase meaningful employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Ben discussed how Employment First and community employment will have an emphasis over sheltered workshops. He also explained how Preble DD and L&M Products, the adult services provider for the board, can support this initiative. In addition to members of the Board, Preble County Superintendent Diane Knupp, L&M Board members, SSA personnel, and others were in attendance. Hollinger served as the adult services director at L&M Products from June 2005-June 2007 before accepting the position of superintendent at Hocking DD.

Richland Richland Newhope hosted an awareness program on June 26 for 45 children and young adults, ranging in age from 5 to 16, from the Children’s Cupboard Southside Outreach program in Mansfield. The children visited several stations where they could learn about challenges with fine motor skills, maneuver a wheelchair

course, experience a Hoyer lift, or sample pureed food and thickened punch. This was the second year for this awareness event. The program was covered by WMFD-TV in Mansfield. In other news, several members of the Aktion Club of Richland County recently purchased and then delivered 250 fire prevention kits to Mansfield’s Safety Town program. Aktion Club is a sponsor of Safety Town, which was started in 1937 by the Mansfield Police Department.

Ross Student Trey Pontious getting a better understanding of how an ambulance might transport someone. This photo was part of the Pioneer Summer Camp activities.

While there are always activities going on for children and adults at Ross DD (The Pioneer Center), this past summer was especially busy. Children and adults were able to bowl each Sunday evening under the guidance and assistance of our Adult Recreation Director Cass Stull. Pioneer School for children with developmental disabilities opened up for a three week Summer Camp. Pioneer School also teamed up with the Chillicothe-Ross County YMCA to form a Summer Friendship Club that met twice a week for a month. The objective of this camp was to have students aged 8 to 15 from Pioneer School interact with other children in the Ross County area in activities that helped students socialize while having fun and promoting compassion and understanding. Actors from the local outdoor drama “Tecumseh” demonstrated to the students how they staged fights as part of the drama. Pioneer also sponsored a summer games and movie night for program participants, their families, and the general public. Ross County YMCA preschoolers came to Pioneer School for a field trip and played several instruments, sang songs, and used sign language. They also visited the sensory room where they played and relaxed in the dark room surrounded by fluorescent lights, played in the ball pit, and dug in the noodle bin. Finally they ended the day with tricycles on the track and a picnic at the shelter house.

DD Advocate Magazine


News in a Nutshell Sandusky Carolyn has attended the Clyde Life Enrichment Center (CLEC) for many years. CLEC is the program for older adults and retirees operated by Sandusky DD. Carolyn lives at home with her mother and was very fearful of using the telephone. For many years staff worked with Carolyn on phone skills – most importantly how to call 911 and give necessary information. Her dedication and hard work truly paid off and she was honored by her hometown Mayor and presented with a certificate of courage on June 15, 2012. Carolyn is being credited with saving her mother’s life after she fell down their basement steps. Carolyn quickly called 911 and explained the emergency, then waited on the front porch for the ambulance to arrive and took them directly to her mother. Carolyn was also presented a Proclamation by the Mayor and City Council on June 19 at Clyde City Hall.

Scioto Members of Scioto DD IMPACT team spent July 20 cleaning the fields for the Challenger League Tournament. They presented a check to Ryan Salmons, Challenger League president, for more than $1,800. The money was raised during the annual STAR, Inc. Charity Car Show held in July.

Seneca Lisa Knauss is pictured here with the certificate she received from Governor Kasich.

Most counties support professional development of leaders through a special one-year training program in which select members from various agencies and business meet to learn about their county and enhance leadership skills. In “Leadership Seneca County,” this service has been offered for 18 years. However, for the very first time, the Leadership Seneca County class of 2011-2012 graduated a person with disabilities who receives services from the Opportunity Center. Patrick Steyer is a self-advocate who works in the community at Bob Evans restaurant as well as at the Opportunity Center’s sheltered workshop, Seneca Re-Ads. In other news, Seneca County is proud to serve a person who was recently appointed by Governor John Kasich to represent people with disabilities on Ohio’s Developmental Disability Council. Lisa Knauss, a Seneca Project STIR member, was appointed in May to give voice to concerns of citizens with disabilities in rural communities.

Patrick is centered in the photo, to the left of him is Marta Zaleha, intake coordinator at the Opportunity Center who also graduated, with her fiancé, Brian Mohr. At right is Seneca DD Superintendent Lewis Hurst and Patrick’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Leon Steyer.

Scioto DD has named James Krumer as Superintendent. He replaces Ben Hollinger, who recently accepted a position with the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. Krumer comes to Scioto County after serving as Superintendent/CEO for the Ohio Southwest Developmental Center. He has extensive experience in working with various developmental disabilities programs throughout his career.


Fall 2012

Stark On June 27, Stark DD played host to 64 advocates and support staff from the Northeast Ohio Region. The purpose of the meeting was to share what advocates are already doing to create an awareness of disability issues and to learn from what is happening in other counties. Advocates represented Medina, Stark, Trumbull, Cuyahoga, Ashland, Mahoning, and Lake counties. Guest speakers included Ohio Self Determination Association (OSDA) Executive Director Dana Charlton and OSDA Board Member Reuben Garcia, who shared: what it means to be an advocate, what other advocacy groups in Ohio are doing, and how advocates can get involved in activities of the organization. In other news, the 15th Annual Great Pumpkin Race in Canton will be held on October 27. Proceeds from the 1-mile fun walk/run and 4-mile competitive run benefit Stark DD Special Olympics. Registration information can be found at www.starkdd.org.

Trumbull Staff members and people served at Trumbull DD have been very active participants in events throughout the community promoting disability awareness and campaigning to “End the ‘R’ Word.” The most recent activities have been the Niles Community Day at a Scrappers baseball game and River Rock at the Amp. Trumbull DD employees and volunteers set up a table and handed out magnets and suckers branded with the DD Awareness Month logo “Our Community is Better Together.” Additionally, the Fairhaven Drum Circle opened for the headlining band at River Rock at the Amp, an outdoor amphitheater that hosts summer concerts on weekends, where they received a standing ovation. T-shirts, designed by an employee, are also being sold to promote DD awareness. The front of the shirt displays “Disable the Label - End the ‘R’ Word,” and the back is the DD Awareness Month logo. Proceeds are being donated to the Fairhaven Foundation.

Tuscarawas In June, Tuscarawas DD said goodbye to Sue Kloc, the long-time principal of Starlight School, after 36 years with the agency. Her successor, Joey Ewing-Wolanzyk of Warren, joined the Starlight School staff in May to work with Kloc on transitioning into the role of principal, and officially took the helm on July 2. Joey comes to Starlight from The Rich Center for Autism, located on the Youngstown State University campus in Youngstown, Ohio, where she served as an instructor and supervisor for the past five years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Performance and Exercise Science, a Master of Science in Special Education, and is currently in the second year of a Doctorate program in Educational Leadership at Concordia University. Joey is married and has five children ranging in age from 3 to 13. An open house style welcome reception introducing Joey to her professional peers was held at Starlight School.

Union Alan Mayberry graduated from Marysville High School and is working toward an accounting degree from Columbus State. As a person with Asperger’s syndrome, Alan deals with the purest of “black and white” thinking and pays great attention to detail. Using these natural strengths to his benefit, Alan is participating in an accounting internship with the Union County Auditor’s office. The internship was set up through WorkNet’s connections with the auditor’s office. There, he enjoys tabulating various calculations to see if vendors are overcharging the county or other numbers don’t add up. He was recently featured in a Columbus Dispatch news article highlighting his contributions to the government agency, shining a positive spotlight on the efforts of the Union County Board of DD in supporting community employment.

Warren Voices of Warren County recently participated in the 2012 World Choir Games held in Cincinnati. The choir participated in two categories - Popular Choral and Folk music - both of which took place at the Aranoff Center. According to one blog, “Audience members were elated by the

choir’s dance moves that added a fun flare to each song.” The choir was founded in 2008 and is led by director Ellen Hudson. Participation in this event was a once in a lifetime experience for each choir member, and an opportunity to show the world the abilities that each singer possesses.


Wayne In July, Wayne DD’s Ida Sue School and Nick Amster Workshop held its thirteenth annual auction to raise funds to support the Parent to Parent not-for-profit board. The funds are used to support those receiving services from Wayne DD and their families with things like adaptive equipment, special diets, home modifications, respite services and educational experiences. More than 280 bidders from the community were in attendance, along with many people who receive board services and their families and county board staff. The auction included a chicken barbecue dinner, terrific baked goodies, ice cream and a special hand-made Amish quilt drawing. More than $41,000 was raised to support the individual and family needs of those who receive services from Wayne DD.

Wood The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce recently presented its 2012 “I Love BG Award” to Wood Lane/Wood DD. The award was announced at the Chamber’s Mid-Year Luncheon in July. 2011 recipient Dave Horger spoke about Wood DD’s contributions to the community, noting that he knew of no one more deserving for their work and partnerships with the City of Bowling Green, area businesses, and Bowling Green State University. Superintendent Melanie Stretchbery accepted the award on behalf of the Board, recognizing volunteers, people served by the board, families, and staff for their commitment to the community. In her remarks, Stretchbery noted that Bowling Green has a tradition of honoring and respecting diversity, and that Wood Lane shares those values with their community.

Wyandot By the time you read this, the Lions Club of Upper Sandusky will have completed work on a picnic shelter erected on the grounds of Angeline School and Industries. The picnic shelter will be a very nice complement to the wheelchair accessible boardwalk and observation deck the Lions Club built in the natural woodlot adjacent to the county board last Fall. The Lions Club motto is “We Build” – and do they ever!

Would you like to become paperless?

Would you like quick, easy, secure access to your documents?

Would you like to learn what many other Ohio peer counties

We have an affordable and easy to use solution! Contact us to learn more about how Intellivue™ has integrated with both Gatekeeper and Infallible Software: mmchale@intellinetics.com

“We selected Intellivue™ because it is user friendly, it integrates with Gatekeeper, and it is affordable!” Gloria Steiner

IT Manager – Stark DD Intellinetics, Inc. 2190 Dividend Drive • Columbus, OH 43228 (614) 921-8170 • www.intellinetics.com

DD Advocate Magazine


Words of Wisdom DD Advocate recently sat down with Morgan

Mary Ann Chamberlain

County Board of DD Superintendent Mary


Words of Wisdom series? Send us your


Ann Chamberlain and asked fifty questions about her views on life, leadership, and lessons learned for this issue’s Words of Wisdom profile. Ten of her responses have been selected to appear below without their prompts. Which superintendent do you think we should feature next in our suggestions at feedback@ddadvocate.com.


The most important thing a superintendent can do is to insist on a culture and an environment where people can thrive and feel safe and loved.

Success is a journey, not a destination. It is about stepping out and taking risks. When does anybody arrive? Never think about money. If you’re doing the right thing, the money will show up.



Fall 2012

Relax. Enjoy today. Think positive. I’ve always wanted to be in the forefront of organizations and movements that recognized the worth and value of everyone.


The number of people who love me unconditionally is the beauty of this profession.

We’re not Worth the h much !) t r o w e money you pay us... ( We’r more than that Our clients don’t like to see money left on the table, and neither do we. At TBC Services, we actually make money for our clients.

Call today for a free Consultation:

How?...by collecting 96 percent of everything we bill for Medicaid


Waiver Services and Targeted Case Management. TBC Services can simplify your billing, increase the dollars you collect and save you money. In a day when budgets are tight for DD agencies, make every dollar count. TBC Services | A division of The Billing Connection | 1616 Lancaster Avenue, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068 | www.tbcservices.net TBC_Svcs_ad021612.indd 1

2/17/12 12:57 AM

DD Advocate Magazine


Ohio Association of County Boards Serving People with Developmental Disabilities 73 E. Wilson Bridge Road, Suite B1 Worthington, OH 43085 www.oacbdd.org



This magazine was processed for distribution and mailed by people with developmental disabilities employed at SAW, Inc. in Cleveland.

Franklin J. Hickman Janet L. Lowder

Meeting the lifetime legal needs of children and adults with disabilities, the elderly, and their families

Public Agency Advocacy & Training Mediation & Litigation Special Education Law www.hickman-lowder.com

Turning Your Obstacles Into Opportunities

David A. Myers Elena A. Lidrbauch Judith C. Saltzman Mary B. McKee Amanda M. Buzo Lisa Montoni Garvin Andrea Aycinena