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The Advocare – March 2011


March 2011

A Publication of West Virginia Advocates.

Protecting and Advocating for the Human and Legal Rights of People with Disabilities.

Download the March 2011 Advocare in PDF.

From the Executive Director

2011 brought many changes to West Virginia. We have a new Governor, Earl Ray Tomblin. He has appointed a new Secretary of DHHR, Dr. Michael J. Lewis. Dr. Lewis is a physician, a very different back ground from past Secretaries. It can be expected to influence his perspectives about Medicaid and other services important to people with disabilities. It is too soon to know the impact of these changes on legislation, policy making, and budgeting in West Virginia, but you need to pay attention and stay informed. There is a special election for Governor on October 4, 2011 which could cause it all to change again.

The move from fee for service to managed care for SSI Medicaid recipients scheduled for January 1st was delayed by Dr. Lewis until after the Legislative Session which ends in March. Adequate provider networks are not yet in place and the Legislature is wondering if the change should have gone out for bid.

In December, ResCare, one of the largest service providers of MR/DD Waiver services in WV, announced that they are ceasing to operate their license in the Monongalia (Morgantown), Preston, Taylor, and Marion County areas of WV effective March 31, 2011. This is forcing clients to lose services or be involuntarily uprooted from their homes, jobs, and communities of choice to move to other parts of the state just to continue receiving services.

ResCare is also under investigation for Medicaid Fraud. There now is only one service provider in Morgantown for 24 hour services and they are not accepting new clients because they cannot hire due to the Medicaid rates being too low to attract workers. This is a long term problem for people on the wait list as they become eligible for services.

WV Advocates has requested CMS get involved in the lack of provider choice issue. Morgantown is not the only area facing this problem; it is just where the first crisis surfaced. There is a crisis requiring intervention by the Legislature to prevent about 1/3 of MR/DD Waiver recipients from losing services guardians of adult family members provide. WV Code prohibits guardians from getting personal benefit as guardian. On the mental health side, state hospitals continue to be over crowded. Encouraging news is that several of the planned community based group homes required by the Hartley Order have opened in Charleston and Huntington.

Self-advocacy has never been more important than now. If you are not registered to vote, do so. If you have not talked to your legislators to let them know what you want disability services in WV to look like, do so. You have the most to lose. Speak up and be heard before it is too late.

WV Financial Exploitation Task Force

For several years, West Virginia Advocates (WVA) has been a participating member of the West Virginia Financial Exploitation Task Force, a voluntary group of organizations concerned with the current system in West Virginia for preventing and responding to the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, including those with disabilities. The group’s Mission Statement is:

Financial exploitation critically threatens the health, safety, dignity, and independence of vulnerable West Virginians. Our state’s systemic response to financial exploitation by people in positions of trust is inadequate. The problem is multi-faceted, and effective solutions require the concerted and coordinated efforts of many partners. The Financial Exploitation Taskforce mission is to empower individuals and create a culture and an environment where vulnerable adult West Virginians are safe from financial exploitation, by:

  1. Promoting prevention
  2. Raising public awareness
  3. Promoting effective supports for victims and victims’ rights
  4. Promoting victim-centered prosecutions
  5. Supporting availability of civil remedies and victim access to them
  6. Identifying and including other partners to pursue this mission of the Taskforce
  7. Develop and share expertise

WVA actively participates in meetings of the full Task Force, where we discuss West Virginia’s financial exploitation laws and regulations and if changes to the law might better protect and benefit vulnerable adults. The group does not lobby for changes in the law, but actively educates legislators on the issues related to our current system discussing how changes could impact the people we serve. These meetings are a real opportunity for WVA to link resources and information to serve West Virginian’s at risk of exploitation more effectively.

WVA is also an active member of the Education Subcommittee, which educates the Task Force on national trends and the general public on the prevalence and prevention of exploitation here in WV. WVA has taken the lead to create a self-advocacy brochure, in collaboration with the full Task Force, designed to provide West Virginians with the tools necessary to protect themselves from financial exploitation and take appropriate action when exploitation happens.

Parent’s Advocacy Guide to Special Education Available This Spring

The West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council and West Virginia Advocates have collaborated to develop a comprehensive, but readable, guide to the policies and procedures that govern special education services in West Virginia. The Guide, which is free of charge to parents who have children in special education programs, specifically covers West Virginia Policy 2419 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The DD Council and WVA worked with parents to develop the Guide, which in addition to summarizing policies, includes tips for record keeping, working cooperatively with school personnel, and resolving disagreements.

Parents who have preschool children or adult sons or daughters who receive special education services will also benefit from the Guide. Parents will find understandable answers to these questions and more:

  • What does “Free and Appropriate Education” mean for my child?
  • What is the eligibility process, and how do I challenge a finding?
  • How can I assure that my child is in the most integrated school setting?
  • What is my role in the Individualized Education Program planning process?
  • What are “Related Services”?
  • What is the school’s responsibility in transition planning for life after high school?
  • Who can I contact in my community or in West Virginia to help me in understanding policies and regulations?

The Guide will be available for statewide distribution this spring. For more information about the Parent’s Guide project, please contact WVA at (800) 950-5250 or (304) 346-0847 or WVDDC at (304) 558-0416. The Guide can be reserved by contacting:

Tiffany Wiseman
(Voice) 304-558-0416
(TDD) 304-558-2376
(Fax) 304-558-0941
Tiffany.C.Wiseman@wv.gov

Or write to:

Tiffany Wiseman
Communications Specialist
WV DDC
110 Stockton Street
Charleston, WV 25387

Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Boot Camp April 20-21, 2011 – Stonewall Resort – Roanoke, WV

West Virginia Advocates invites you to attend our second Wrightslaw: Special Education Law and Advocacy Boot Camp! We are pleased to welcome Pete and Pam Wright to West Virginia to share their many years of expertise with us.

The two day conference is designed to meet the needs of parents, educators, school administrators, advocates, attorneys, social workers, and service providers. The boot camp focuses on special education statutes and regulations, tests and measurements of progression and regression, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) development, creating paper trails, effective letter writing, and advocacy strategies.

You will learn that all children-regardless of disability-should receive a quality education. You will learn successful advocacy skills to work toward achieving that goal. The boot camp is an intensive program and will focus on IDEA 2004, while incorporating West Virginia special education regulations. You will receive three Wrightslaw books: Special Education Law, From Emotions to Advocacy, and All About IEPs. Participants will have the opportunity to network with other families, educators, and advocates.

Each year, WVA receives hundreds of requests for assistance from parents regarding IEP development and implementation, Prior Written Notice, Paraprofessionals (Aides), Least Restrictive Environment and other school-related issues. Your participation in the conference will ensure that you have a better understanding of special education law and will develop you into the best advocate you can be for your child, student, or client. Register today!

How to register: wvawl.eventbrite.com (link removed)

To register by phone or for more information, contact West Virginia Advocates at 1-800-950-5250.

Registration fees:

Family Member $165
2 Family Members $305
Professional $175

Continuing Education Credits for Attorneys, Educators, and Social Workers pending.

Financial assistance is available for parents and family members of children with disabilities. Call WVA directly to request financial assistance.

Stipend funds are being made available to parents of children with developmental disabilities through a grant from the WV Developmental Disabilities Council.

WVA’s PAIR program will also give stipends for eligible individuals.

Funds Available to Develop Community Transportation Especially for Employment and People with Disabilities

Transportation, especially transportation to a job, is a major problem for many West Virginians, especially those with disabilities. The Division of Public Transit is soliciting proposals for the Federal Transit Administration’s JARC (Section 5316) and New Freedom (Section 5317) program. Projects will be competitively selected and chosen as funds are available. One program in particular, The New Freedom Program is designed specifically to assist people with disabilities in accessing transportation to meet their community living needs.

The New Freedom formula grant program aims to provide additional tools to overcome existing barriers facing Americans with disabilities seeking integration into the work force and full participation in society. Lack of adequate transportation is a primary barrier to work for individuals with disabilities. The New Freedom program seeks to reduce barriers to transportation services and expand the transportation mobility options available to people with disabilities beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. This program provides grant funds to eligible grantees to establish new transportation options in rural and urban communities. A “new” service is any service or activity that was not operational before August 10, 2005 and did not have an identified funding source as of August 10, 2005, as evidenced by inclusion in the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) or the State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP). New Public Transportation Services Beyond the ADA – Application due date is March 14, 2011, but exceptions for New Freedom may be made. Applications and more information are available at: http://www.transportation.wv.gov/publictransit/

The following activities are examples of eligible projects meeting the definition of new public transportation and are eligible as new public transportation alternatives beyond the ADA under the New Freedom Program:

  • Purchasing vehicles to support new accessible taxi, ride sharing, and/or van-pooling programs. New Freedom funds can be used to purchase and operate accessible vehicles for use in taxi, ride-sharing and/or van pool programs provided that the vehicle has the capacity to accommodate a passenger who uses a “common wheelchair” at a minimum, while remaining in his/her personal mobility device inside the vehicle, and meeting the same requirements for lifts, ramps and securement systems.
  • Supporting the administration and expenses related to new voucher programs for transportation services offered by human service providers. This activity is intended to support and supplement existing transportation services by expanding the number of providers available or the number of passengers receiving transportation services.
  • Supporting new volunteer driver and aide programs. New volunteer driver programs are eligible and include support for cost associated with the administration, management of driver recruitment, safety, background checks, scheduling, coordination with passengers, and other related support functions, mileage reimbursements, and insurance associated with volunteer driver programs.
  • Supporting new mobility management and coordination programs among public transportation providers and other human service agencies providing transportation.

Jan Lilly-Stewart Wins USA Characters Unite Award

As part of its Characters Unite community affairs campaign to combat social injustices and bridge cultural divides, USA Network created the Characters Unite Awards to recognize extraordinary individuals who have made significant efforts to fight prejudice and discrimination, while increasing tolerance, respect and acceptance. USA chose eight people from across the country to receive this prestigious award. Jan was nominated by Ann McDaniel, Executive Director of the Statewide Independent Living Council. Jan is the Director and one of the cofounders of the Fair Shake Network, a grassroots advocacy association of West Virginians dedicated to a “fair shake” for people with disabilities and to the belief that diversity makes our communities stronger.

Jan has been involved in fighting for the rights of people with disabilities all her life. She has worked more than 25 years in counseling and advocacy positions and has earned the admiration and respect of policymakers, colleagues and countless people with disabilities. As Director of the Fair Shake Network, she continues to work tirelessly to give a voice to those with disabilities.

The Fair Shake Network has a vision that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to fully participate in their community and realize their dreams; they have the right to live, work, and play in their own homes and communities. Jan and her colleagues at the organization provide information to policymakers and the public on issues pertaining to people with disabilities, and support those with disabilities and their families by engaging in legislative advocacy. (Reprinted from the Fair Shake Network Quarterly Newsletter Winter 2010)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) may help you!

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. When the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit. You must file a tax return to qualify for the credit, even if you are not required to file based on income.

Because there is a possibility that you could pay less taxes, or recieve a refund, you should find out if this credit applies to you. On the EITC website, there is a link to the EITC Assistant, which is a questionare that will determine your eligibility for the tax credit. To find out more information on the EITC and to check your eligibility visit https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/earned-income-tax-credit

Community Corner

Community corner is a place in our newsletter for you to read information on disability related organizations, events, activities, et cetera in our community. If you know of an event that is disability related from your community and want to see it published in our newsletter, please contact us at (800) 950-5250; contact@wvadvocates.org; or 1207 Quarrier St Ste 400, Charleston, WV 25301.

A New Transportation Program Rolls Into The Morgantown Area

Morgantown, WV- There is now only one phone number to call to get a ride in Monongalia County. The NewFIT Program provides transportation to anyone who may be in need. If you are covered by Medicaid or Assistive Services, need a ride to work or training, medical appointments or shopping NewFIT can pick you up.

Anyone is eligible to ride NewFIT; however persons with disabilities are given preference over people without disabilities. Typically, this is curb to curb service; however, if you need additional assistance or would like door through door service, please notify the scheduler when you call for your appointment.

The cost to ride can be covered by programs such as Medicaid, Veterans Programs, Senior Programs or many other subsidized services. If you are unable to be covered by any other service, the cost to ride is $9.00 one way. Therefore if you have Medicaid, then you have a ride; if your car is in the shop and you plan to ride with NewFIT for a while, you still have a ride at a cost of $9.00.

To make an appointment, call 304-296-3869 and provide the scheduler with some information so we can find the best option for you. Set up your appointment with return trip information. Then just be ready to leave 5 minutes prior to your pick-up time.

The NewFIT program is a joint venture between Mountain Line Transit and In Touch & Concerned and is a program created by New Freedom Funding.

To learn more about this project or for additional information about Mountain Line, visit http://www.busride.org/Fares-Programs/NewFIT or call 304-296-3869.

Editorials

West Virginia Advocates is currently accepting editorials and letters to the editor. We will sort through submissions and will choose one to print in our next edition of the Advocare. The subject should be disability related. This is a chance to have your voice heard on the issues that affect you. You may submit your editorials and letters to: WV Advocates, 1207 Quarrier St Ste 400, Charleston, WV 25301; Facsimile: (304) 346-0867; or E-mail: contact@wvadvocates.org. West Virginia Advocates reserves the right to edit content as WVA deems necessary. By submitting content you authorized WVA to use and print your content, name, and any other information you submit. If you wish to remain anonymous, please indicate this prominently in your submission.

Facebook

West Virginia Advocates is now on Facebook. Visit us there to see updates relevant to you!

Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/drofwv (link updated)

Funding and Disclaimer

The Advocare is published by the West Virginia Advocates. Publication of news items and articles does not imply endorsement by the Editor, the West Virginia Advocates, the Board of Directors or its individual members, or funding sources. Funding for this publication is provided by the: U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration; Social Security Administration. Letters to the Editor and news items should be sent to WVA, 1207 Quarrier St Ste 400, Charleston, WV 25301