Thursday, February 4, 2016

True Value of Mardi Gras Beads

Pensacola’s Arc Gateway is a beacon of financial freedom for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The nonprofit provides job opportunities that suit the abilities of their clients, but due to a lack of donations, their Mardi Gras Bead program is struggling to stay afloat.

The Mardi Gras Bead recycling program at Arc Gateway’s Pollack Training Center is a win-win for Pensacola. Parade-goers can gain a non-cash contribution tax form for donating their beads; individuals with disabilities earn a paycheck and learn valuable skills from reorganizing and packaging the beads, and Mardi Gras Krewes buy the recycled beads at a discounted price.

Connecticut Set to Address Wait List

HARTFORD – The governor's budget chief said officials over the next year will find ways to unfreeze a stalled list of more than 2,000 people with intellectual disabilities waiting for services, which advocates have identified as a crisis.
While Ben Barnes stopped short of saying the state will allocate money, he said the Department of Developmental Services will "develop strategies to address and fund" the waiting list – a queue that never moves unless a person's parents or care givers become incapacitated or die.
Barnes' assertion immediately struck a chord with advocates.

NYS Focuses on Mimimum Wage Hike

ALBANY, N.Y. — Low-wage workers from around New York state gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, a proposal that continues to dominate the year's legislative work.Sandra Luke makes $9 as a wheelchair attendant at New York City'sLaGuardia Airport. She said it's barely enough to make ends meet, and forces her to sort her bills into two categories: ones she can pay and ones she must put off.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Opinion: NYS Proposed Minimum Wage Hike Threatens People with IDD & Field

Bravo Laura Kennedy, president of NYSARC, Inc., and Steven Kroll, its executive director, for this op-ed in Albany Times Union.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed $15 minimum wage contains a serious flaw that threatens the financial viability of an entire field of caregivers and the people and families those caregivers support.While the governor has appropriately decided that New York needs to champion the rights of hard-working, low-income wage earners by requiring a higher minimum wage, he has not provided any funding for the many not-for-profit agencies that depend almost completely on the state for their funding. Among the 2.3 million workers who stand to benefit from a minimum wage increase are more than 100,000 workers who provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and neurological impairments. No funding is provided for this increase.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Thousands await Waiver in Virginia

Preston Philip Leech is a lucky man in many ways.
Gwen Leech and her son Preston
at their Beaverdam home.

Although he is among the 25 percent of autistic people who are nonverbal, and he cannot be left alone, Preston’s mother, Gwen Leech, quit her job as an executive in corporate banking to take care of him when he was young.
Preston has been able to live at home in a nurturing, comfortable environment rather than in an institution for people with disabilities.But Gwen knows that one day, she and Preston’s father will die.

Georgia and Feds Battle it Out

With lawmakers talking about protecting Confederate symbols and extolling the supposedly good points of the Ku Klux Klan, it can be easy to forget that the Civil War ended 151 years ago. After all, Georgia still keeps cannons on its Capitol steps – pointed North, as if our leaders expect renewed Union aggression.
The Powell Building at Central
 State Hospital in Milledgeville
As it happens, Georgia is engaged in two serious conflicts with the federal government. In both, state officials, led by Gov. Nathan Deal, are resisting intervention by the U.S. Department of Justice in how Georgia serves some of its most vulnerable citizens.The first concerns the care of people with developmental disabilities. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over the weekend, the Justice Department says Georgia is not living up to promises it made in 2010 to settle a federal investigation into the state’s psychiatric hospitals. Part of the settlement required the state to transfer people with physical disabilities from the state hospitals – where, in most cases, they never belonged – to group homes and other community-based facilities. (To see the original Journal-Constitution stories that precipitated the federal investigation, go here.)

Friday, January 29, 2016

An Entrepreneur Changes Course; Owner of Tim's Place Follows His Heart

Happy Friday. Something that's going to brighten your day.

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico -- What makes Tim's Place restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico so special is that it is, indeed, Tim's Place.
Tim Harris is the only restaurant owner in the country with Down syndrome. For the last five years he has lived for his business, which is why his customers were shocked when Tim announced recently that he'd be closing.
"My customers cry a lot into my arms," he explained.