Jean Sherman: Champions for Floridians with disabilities


Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 4:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 4:21 p.m.

As the chairperson for the Family Care Council Florida, I want to highlight some of the good things that are happening in our state for individuals with disabilities and their families, as a result of actions by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) and the support of Gov. Rick Scott.

Our 15 Family Care Councils around the state constantly strive to provide APD with recommendations from the customer and family perspective and advise the agency on policy and program decisions.

This year Gov.Scott recommended, and the Florida Legislature approved, an additional $36 million to enroll individuals from the APD waiting list onto the waiver. They will soon begin receiving home and community-based services. This additional funding for the waiting list is the first money in eight years to help these individuals who have gone without waiver services for far too long.

Also, believing that people with disabilities should have the opportunity to achieve the American dream, Gov. Scott helped APD secure $500,000 to provide job internships and supported employment coaches for about 200 individuals on the waiting list.

APD Director Barbara Palmer is currently traveling the state hosting town hall meetings where she listens to families talk about ways to improve community services. Exhibiting his own interest in folks with disabilities, Gov. Scott joined APD for a town hall meeting in Panama City, where he readily answered questions and interacted with the large number of individuals and families in attendance.

Importantly, I want to mention my support of the new iBudget Florida that APD has now implemented throughout the state. While the thought of change is unsettling to many, the vast majority of families have reacted positively to the iBudget.

Given a chance to prove itself, this new system holds the potential for providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities in a manner that is more flexible and equitable.

Jean Sherman is chairwoman of Family Care Council Florida.

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