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11/7 Summit on Employment of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

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Date: Thursday, November 7th
Time: 8:30am to 3pm
Location: Salvatore’s Italian Gardens
6461 Transit Road, Depew, NY 14043

Providing meaningful work opportunities for individuals with moderate to severe levels of developmental disabilities has been a key component of improving the quality of life of individuals in New York State for more than five decades.

However, the provision of these services is now at a very important crossroad. The federal Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) has put forth a mandate for New York State to begin phasing out the operation of center-based segregated work opportunities, previously known as sheltered workshops. The final plan by New York State to close these programs is due to CMS by January 1st, 2014.

The Adult Service agencies of Western New York feel it is critical that this plan be crafted in a way that reflects the needs of the more than 8,000 individuals currently participating in a center-based program to ensure opportunities for continued meaningful employment.

In November of 2013, more than 200 people are anticipated to attend the Summit on Employment of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities. This group will include individuals currently served, their families, service providers, employers, elected politicians, government officials, and the community at large. Positive encouragement has already been received by the Director of the Western New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office who has pledge attendance of several key staff members charged with crafting the employment transformation plan.

Purpose and Goal
The purpose of the Summit is to bring together all stakeholders in employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities to draw on their collective expertise to construct comprehensive and thoughtful feedback that can be used by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to develop the transformation plan for employment. In a longer term, the insight gained and solutions developed at this Summit will serve as a critical guide to all stakeholders moving forward.

The goal of this Summit is to inform and advocate in a unified voice for employment policies and practices for the developmentally disabled that most effectively meet the needs of individuals, service providers, and employers.

The Summit is scheduled to be held during the first half of November of 2013 and is organized in part by the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY), a collaboration of 43 service agencies serving individuals with developmental disabilities from across Western New York.

Taking place over one full day, attendees will register to be included into workgroups to discuss topic areas determined by the Summit Steering Committee. The topic areas selected are: Meaningful Choice, Developing and dealing with individual Capabilities, community Capacity and Transportation. As the Summit Steering Committee continues to meet and more information about the New York State plan to transform center-based work opportunities is released, additional topic or sub-topic areas will be developed.

Every effort will be made to ensure that each workgroup has the representation of an individual receiving service, a family member, agency representative, community employer, and government policy maker. In addition, each group will be provided with a recording secretary knowledgeable in the topic area as well as in group facilitation.

The instructions provided to each group (prior to the Summit and reiterated on the day of) will be to collect problems with current policies, obstacles to change, desired outcomes and accountability. Most importantly, the workgroups will be encouraged to think beyond the identification of problems to offer solutions including both internal and external system changes that could be positively affected by policy.

The workgroup’s activities will be complimented by a widely recognized keynote speaker representing a best practice in a successfully implemented employment model supportive of the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.

At the conclusion of the conference, each workgroup will present three situation/ obstacle/ solution/ outcome strings to the entire group. All strings developed by the workgroups will be collected and compiled into a comprehensive document that will be distributed to all in attendance as well as to additional key stakeholders. The organizers strongly feel that by presenting recommendations that are representative of all key stakeholders in Western New York, policy makers will have the insight and information needed to draft a thoughtful, responsive, and supportive transformation plan that will continue to provide meaningful work opportunities for individuals with all levels of developmental disability.