Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some Good News, Close to Home

Recently I asked for some good news to share with Special Needs '08 readers. Today I found some good news right my own county. According to an article in our local Gazette, Montgomery County Public Schools will spend more than one-third of its $15.3 million in federal stimulus to add teachers and support staff for 16,000 special-needs students, including fifth-grader Ray (see photo).

"For the next two school years, President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will bring the federal government's support for special education to its highest level ever in Maryland and Montgomery County, according to county and state records. But amid budget shortfalls and an explosion of autistic students, the stimulus largely replenishes job cuts and restores what was going to be the county's flattest increase in special education in several years."

So what's YOUR good news?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Republican, Female, Pro-Life, Disability Champion

Meet a pro-life Republican woman from the Northwest with a child with Down Syndrome who's emerged as a leader in disability policy. No, not Sarah Palin, whose recent actions seem to be aimed at advancing her personal career.

A recent post from Patricia Bauer's great blog linked to an article in the Weekly Standard profiling Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State, a pro-life Republican and a powerful champion for people with disabilites. The mother of a boy with Down Syndrome, Rep. McMorris has launched the bipartisan Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus. Read about her.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

HHS Appoints Adviser with Firsthand Experience with Disabilities

Henry Claypool, who has been appointed as the top disability advisor for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, knows a thing or two about the disability system. Twenty-five years ago, he suffered a spinal cord injury and relied on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

As director of the HHS Office on Disability, Claypool will be the top disability advisor to the HHS secretary and will oversee all HHS programs for individuals with disabilities. Read the news release.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Budget Cuts Hit Most Vulnerable

No surprises from this New York Times article, "States Slashing Social Programs for Vulnerable."

"Battered by the recession and the deepest and most widespread budget deficits in several decades, a large majority of states are slicing into their social safety nets — often crippling preventive efforts that officials say would save money over time." In Arizona, 1,000 people don't have home aides to help them bathe, take care of their homes, and visit their doctors. Ohio and other states have cut back on child welfare investigations, which is likely to lead to more injured children and foster care.

I'm looking for good news. How are government agencies, communities, and families finding creative ways to help people with disabilities and others who need support? One encouraging sign is an increase in volunteering -- as jobs become harder to find, it appears more people are doing more community service. If you come across other glimmers of hope, please share them with me -- we can all use some good news.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Adding Up the Costs of Disability: The Need to Plan

Taxes, trusts, and treatments -- oh my. If you're reading this blog, I probably don't need to tell you it's expensive to care for someone with a disability. In a recent discussion with Disability Scoop, the co-founder of the Academy of Special Needs Planners gave tips on planning for the future -- touching on issues from government benefits to taxes to long-term planning.

If you have a loved one with a disability, this is important information explained in a clear way. If you're not personally affected, I still encourage you to read this so you understand the hoops families have to jump through because of complicated and often illogical government regulations. Read the interview.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Job Opportunities?

From U.S. News & World Report, "Teenagers With Autism: Want a Job?
New Programs Aim to Keep Kids with Autism out of Institutions":

"Around the country, innovative programs are now offering young people with autism a vital choice -- the chance to work, go to college, or even start a business, rather than go on disability and be consigned to a sheltered workshop. There's an economic incentive in this time of strained government budgets; a person with autism costs society about $3.2 million over his or her lifetime, including lost productivity and adult care. Each hour spent collecting a paycheck and not collecting disability lowers that cost. And the personal benefit is incalculable."

Read article.

Disability Scoop

Special Ed News (Education Week)

Special Education Law