Proposed Changes to Delaware’s Special Education Funds – A Call To Action!

May 28, 2015

Do you have a child with disabilities attending a Delaware public school? Then you may want to take action now, before your child’s special educational needs are put in jeopardy.

Calling All Delaware Families of Children With Disabilities!

The Delaware General Assembly is considering action that could result in the diversion of funds currently used to educate children with disabilities in our public schools. Contact members of the General Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee today and urge them not to take these funds away, so that the education of our children with disabilities is not jeopardized.

Delaware Special Education

Proposed Budget Change to Special Education Funding

The General Assembly’s proposed budget bill has language in its fine print that would allow some of the state’s school districts the “financial flexibility” to take money that is currently given to the districts for specific purposes, and instead use it for any purpose that the school district sees fit.

This is called Flexible Funding and could impact many Delaware public schools and the children with disabilities who attend these schools.

The Impact of Flexible Funding on Special Education

While some special education funds are protected from this Flexible Funding initiative, basic special education funds — the state special education dollars that are set aside for education of students with less severe disabilities — are included in the initiative and would be available for schools to allocate elsewhere.

The majority of students with disabilities in our public schools are educated with these basic special education funds.

Delaware Students With Disabilities

School districts receive these extra basic special education funds based on how many children with disabilities they report attending their schools. These extra funds were created by the state for the purpose of ensuring that students with disabilities, who are more expensive to educate, receive the educational resources necessary to help them fulfill their potential.

State budget approval of Flexible Funding will be detrimental for many students with disabilities!

Contact Your Delaware Representatives Today!

It is irresponsible, and ultimately harmful to children with disabilities, to allow schools to spend those dollars on other needs. The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is considering the state’s budget bill right now, so we urge you to contact the members of the committee to let them know how important the preservation of special education funding is to you.

Delaware Special Education

When contacting a committee member, use the wording, Flexible Funding, to reference the special education funding in question.

The members of the Joint Finance Committee are listed below. Contact them today and voice your concerns.

Joint Finance Committee Chairs: 

Joint Finance Committee Members:

If you are concerned about the educational needs of students with disabilities, please send a letter and/or an email stating your disagreement to Flexible Funding to your representative NOW!

We Are Here To Help

Please contact Delaware Family Voices if you have any questions about the Flexible Funding issue, or would like guidance on how to have your voice heard. Our goal is to ensure the State hears all voices, and understands those issues vital to families of children with special needs.

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Be Heard! Disability Day is April 2nd!

March 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 is Delaware’s 7th Annual Disability Day in Legislative Hall

Are you the parent of a child with special needs? Do you have questions about disability services offered in Delaware? Do you want to know more about how the state can assist you and your child?

Would you like to talk with your state legislator about living with disabilities in Delaware, to help him better understand the needs of a person with disabilities?

Then you need to attend Delaware’s 7th annual Disability Day in Legislative Hall.

Disability Day Delaware

Disability Day at Legislative Hall is your opportunity to hear what the state can do for people with disabilities. It is also your opportunity to ask questions, and to discuss in greater detail the needs of people with disabilities living in Delaware.

The Disability Day Agenda

Disability Day attendees will learn more about the state’s current position in a wide range of topics relevant to people with disabilities.

  • Family Support Waiver
  • Dental Care Insurance
  • Community First Choice Option
  • Money Follows The Person
  • Personal Attendant Services Funding
  • Transition Coordinators
  • Source of Income Discrimination
  • Disability Law Program – Special Education Advocacy
  • Accessible Transportation
  • Building Infrastructures and Supports Needed to Phase Out the Issuance of Subminimum Wage Certification

Details about each agenda item can be found at 2013-2014 Legislative Priorities. These legislative priorities also make excellent talking points during conversations with state legislators.

Disability Day Event Details

When: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Time: 11:00 am to 3:30 am

Where: Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave, Dover Delaware

Note: You must provide a valid photo ID such as a driver’s license to enter Legislative Hall.

Questions about Disability Day? Call the DDC office at (302) 739 – 3333.

Schedule Your Legislative Appointments Now

Are you interested in talking with your Delaware legislator about disability issues? Schedule an appointment now for Disability day to discuss your top disability issues directly with your legislator.

Delaware events

You are highly encouraged to schedule appointments in advance to secure time on Disability Day with your legislator. These links can help you navigate through the process of how to contact your legislator and schedule an appointment:

Remember – Your Voice Does Matter!

Your legislators are ready and waiting to hear from you. Yes, your voice really does matter!

Delaware Disability Day 2014

Check Disability Day at Legislative Hall for additional information on Disability Day and Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council for other upcoming DDC meetings and events.

Hope to see you there!

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider Donating to our organization and help support Delaware families in need.

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Images:Delaware DDC and Bruno Buontempo via Flickr (Megaphone)


Partners in Policymaking – Making a Difference For Those With Disabilities

December 2, 2013

Are you the parent of a child with developmental disabilities, or a young adult with developmental disabilities?

Would you like to have an impact on public policies that could impact people with developmental disabilities? The opportunity to work side by side with State public policy makers to impart positive change?

Then you might want to consider the Partners in Policymaking program.

What is Partners in Policymaking?

The Partners in Policymaking is a program designed to give a voice to parents of children with developmental disabilities and young adults with developmental disabilities, empowering them to be a part of state-wide policy changes for people with disabilities. The program’s goal is to teach these parents and self-advocates the power of advocacy, and change the way people with disabilities are supported, viewed, taught, live and work.

Partners in Policy Making

Through the Leadership Training Program, Partners learn to become community leaders, and to work side by side with State public policy makers. Partners are provided with up-to-date information, education, and the skills necessary to help make change in public policy relative to the people who need and use disabilities services.

Check out the Partners in Policymaking Brochure for additional details.

NOTE – Applications to participate in the 2014 Partners in Policymaking are due by Friday, December 20, 2013.

Who are the Partners?

Partners in Policymaking are typically parents of children with developmental disabilities or young adults who have developmental disabilities. Each year Partners are selected to participate in the program through an application process.

Families with Disabilities

There is no fee to become a Partner in Policymaking. Additionally, the program pays for participants’ lodging and meals as well as other related expenses, while attending training sessions.

What Are the Expectations of Partners?

The goal of the Partners in Policymaking program is to learn information, strategies and skills to help further state public policies that affect people with disabilities.

Partners are expected to attend each of the eight two-day training sessions. Sessions are held monthly from February through September, and run from noon Friday until later Saturday afternoon.

Topics of discussion include:

  • History of Disability Movements
  • Inclusive Education
  • Community Supports and Supported Employment
  • Vision for Future and the Planning Process
  • Assistive Technology
  • Local, State and Federal Policy and Legislative Issues
  • How to Meet Public Officials and give Legislative Testimony
  • Community Organizing
  • Working with the Media
  • Holding Effective Meetings

For more information about Partners in Policymaking in Delaware, contact the Developmental Disabilities Council at 302-739-3333.

Delaware DDC

Ready to Be a Partner in Policymaking?

Partners in Policymaking are ready to take a stand and help implement change for those with developmental disabilities.

Are you ready to become a Partner? Download the 2014 Application for Participation and submit your application today.

NOTE – Applications are due by Friday, December 20, 2013.


Support The Disability Treaty – A Call To Action

November 3, 2013

You can make a difference! Help support the Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities, also known as the Disability Treaty.

Encourage your senators to VOTE YES to ratify the Disability Treaty (CRPD) on Tuesday, November 5th. The ratification of the Treaty will allow the United States to continue in it’s global leadership on disability rights.

Disabiliites

What is the Disability Treaty and CRPD?

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international disability treaty that was inspired by the U.S. to recognize the rights of people with disabilities. It is the framework for creating legislation and policies around the world that fully support and embrace the rights of all people with disabilities.

The CRPD was based off the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which safeguards the right for independence and respect, along with the concept of reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

The United States signed the CRPD in 2009, but in December of 2012, the ratification of the CRPD fell short by five votes. It is back again with strong commitment by the CRPD’s Senate leaders to achieve ratification in the 113th Congress.

We need our Senators to fight for the 57.8 million Americans with disabilities and the 5.5 million disable American veterans, as well as the one billion people with disabilities around the world.  We need to have CRPD ratified this year.

Learn more about the Disability Treaty and why it’s important for everyone.

How Can You Help?

To achieve ratification, they need your support! Go to Disability Treaty for an easy to use call to action center, where you will find the tools you need to call and write letters to your senator.

Don’t forget to also sign a petition in support of the treaty.

It’s not too late! Now is the time to write your letters in support of the treaty and send them to the Foreign Relations Committee. The vote is on Tuesday, November 5th! 

CRPD


Apply Now For Delaware Junior Partners in Policymaking 2013 Program

January 23, 2013

Are you or someone you know between the ages of 15 and 22, with a developmental disability, or is an advocate for another person with a developmental disability? If so, then consider joining the 2013 Delaware Junior Partners in Policymaking summer program!

What is Junior Partners in Policymaking?

This exciting week-long summer program is designed to meet the changing needs of young adults with, and without disabilities, as they move towards independence. Participants in the program are a diverse group of young adults between the ages of 15 and 22, all sharing a common interest in the rights of people with disabilities.

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Throughout this week-long program, participants attend a wide variety of classes on a vast array of topics, including:

  • The importance of self-determination
  • How to advocate for yourself
  • Your rights in and out of school
  • Laws that affect the treatment of individuals with disabilities
  • How you can impact public policy
  • How to plan for the future that you want

The week concludes with a trip to Legislative Hall, where participants are given the opportunity to put into practice the wealth of information and skills they have learned throughout the week. Many state legislators will be available for participants to meet with and discuss issues important to them. This is a great time for participants to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

Participant who complete the program will be awarded a Certificate of Participation, great for resumes and college applications.

Junior Partners in Policymaking Program Details:

The Junior Partners in Policymaking was created by the Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council and is presented by the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware. The week-long session will be held as follows:

When: Sunday June 16 to Friday, June 21st, 2013

Where: University of Delaware Newark campus

Participants will live on campus for the duration of the program. All classes are held on the University of Delaware campus, and the program ends with the trip to Legislative Hall, in Dover.

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Young adults interested in attending the program shall meet the following criteria:

  • Be between the ages of 15 and 22
  • Want to know more about disability advocacy
  • Live in Delaware now and at the time of the program

The Application Process:

Prospective participants need to complete the 2013 Junior Partners in Policymaking Application form and mail it to:

The Center for Disabilities Studies
Attention: Jr. Partners
461 Wyoming Road
Newark DE 19716

All applications must have an actual signature on the application form. Electronic submissions cannot be accepted.

If you have any questions about the program or the application process, please call Grace Wesley at 302-722-7066 or email her at jrpartners@udel.edu.

NOTE: Applications must be submitted by February 14th.

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Does the Junior Partners in Policymaking sound like something you or someone you know would like to participate in? Download the following information for additional details and dates for upcoming informational meetings.

2013 Junior Partners in Policymaking Course Description

2013 Junior Partners in Policymaking Brochure

2013 Junior Partners in Policymaking Informational Meetings

Don’t forget – applications are due February 14th!

Have you, or someone you know, participated in previous Junior Partners in Policymaking programs? Share your experiences with us!

2013JPPgroup

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All images from The Center for Disabilities. University of Delaware.


Delaware Disability Day – Your Voice Matters!

January 9, 2013

Wednesday, January 16th is Delaware’s 6th Annual Disability Day in Legislative Hall

Are you the parent of a child with special needs and would like to know more about how the state can assist you and your child?

Do you have questions about disability services in Delaware?

Would you like to talk with your state legislator, perhaps help him to better understand the needs of a person with disabilities?

Then you might want to attend Delaware’s Disability Day in Legislative Hall.

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The Disability Day agenda includes:

Family Support Waiver
Seclusion and Restraint
Dental Care Insurance
Accessible Taxi Service
Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund
Regulation of DAP Group Homes
Physical Health for All Students
Equal Accommodations Law
Accessible Medical Equipment
Services for New Grads
Employment
Guardianship for People with Disabilities

Scheduling an appointment with your legislator:

Want to talk directly with your state legislator on January 16th? Be sure to schedule an appointment now so you can talk with your legislator while attending Disability Day. This is a great opportunity to discuss disability issues that are important to you.

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Here are several links to learn more about contacting your legislator and scheduling an appointment:

How to Contact a State of Delaware legislator

State of Delaware Elected Officials

State of Delaware 147th General Assembly Senators

State of Delaware 147th General Assembly Representatives

They are ready and waiting to hear from you. Yes, your voice really does matter!

Disability Day Event Details:

When: Wednesday January 16th, 2013

Time: 11:00 am to 3:30 am

Where: Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave, Dover Delaware

Note: You will be required to provide a photo ID such as a driver’s license to gain access to Legislative Hall.

Please call (302) 739 – 3333 for additional Disability Day information.

Remember – Your Voice Does Matter!

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Click on this link for additional information on Disability Day and other Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council upcoming meetings/events.


Register Now For LIFE Conference XV

December 6, 2012

Would you like to learn more about available services and assistance programs for persons with disabilities? Perhaps you’d like to learn about new and innovative assistive technology that could possibly enhance their lives?

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Do you have a family member with disabilities or work with persons with disabilities, and would like to learn more about how to help them lead their best lives?

Then join Delaware Family Voices and many others this January at the fifteenth annual Delaware LIFE Conference.

What is LIFE Conference XV?

LIFE Conference XV is a joint effort of many Delaware organizations whose primary purpose is to assist and enhance the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. Their definition of LIFE says it all:

LIFE = Liberty and Independence For Everyone.

LIFE = Legislation, Independence, Families and Education

LIFE Conference XV brings together a broad assortment of information designed to serve persons with disabilities and their families, and to provide resources and knowledge to further help them live LIFE to the fullest.

The LIFE Conference XV Agenda:

The conference’s goal is to support, provide information, and educate it’s attendees in each of the following four areas:

  • Legislation – Learn more about state legislation and how advocacy can implement change, as well as how to access community-based long-term care services.
  • Independence through Assistive Technology (AT) –  Explore the latest applications and mobile devices, methods to increase accessibility in the home, and how to access and secure AT services.
  • Family – Find out how to better access medical services, why emergency preparedness is important, and about employment challenges and issues.
  • Education – Learn more about student to adult transition options, how to address bullying issues, and developing better behavioral assessment and intervention plans.

While at the conference, you will be able to:

  • Visit exhibitors dedicated to persons with disabilities and their families.
  • Listen to keynote speaker Aaron Bishop, Executive Director of the National Council on Disability.
  • Attend three different workshops from each of the four conference topics – Legislation, Independence Through AT, Family and Education.

For complete details of LIFE Conference XV, click on LIFE Conference XV agenda.

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LIFE Conference XV Event Details:

LIFE Conference XV event and registration details are as follows:

When: Thursday, January 13, 2013

Where: Sheraton Dover Hotel

Time: 8:00am to 3:45pm

Registration Fee: $45 through January 2nd; $75 after this date.

How to Register for LIFE XV: Online at LIFE Event Registration or via hard copy (paper) Event Registration form. Note that you will need to mail a paper registration form to event organizers if you choose the paper registration method.

Don’t forget! Early bird registration rates end on January 2, 2013. After January 2nd, the registration fee increases to $75.

Questions: Contact Leslie Kosek at Best Buddies, 302-691-3187, or at LeslieKosek@bestbuddies.org.

Delaware Family Voices At LIFE Conference XV

We hope to see you there! Stop by the Delaware Family Voices exhibit and learn more about how we can help you.

Listen to Delaware Family Voices director, Ann Phillips, as she shares her wealth of knowledge. She will be a member of The Diamond State Health Plan Plus (DSHP Plus) panel, which will focus on program improvements, direct consumer impacts and common issues identified since the implementation of DSHP Plus, a Medicaid initiative.

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Will you be attending LIFE Conference XV? Have you attended prior LIFE conferences? Share your experiences in the Comments section below.

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Images from LIFE Conference XV website.