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April Member Spotlight: Autism Delaware

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DelARF is proud to shine our Member Spotlight for the month of April, Autism Awareness Month, on Autism Delaware. As part of the month’s awareness activities, Autism Delaware was on hand in Legislative Hall on April 2nd for Smart Cookie Day, an annual opportunity to meet with members of the First State’s General Assembly. Autism Delaware staff and fellow advocates shared personal stories and a fresh-baked cookie with their elected officials and asked for increased awareness and resources to help meet the needs of individuals with autism.

Earlier that day, Delaware Governor Jack Markell was the keynote speaker at the United Nations’ observance of World Autism Day in New York, encouraging other countries to increase vocational opportunities for individuals with disabilities, specifically autism. Governor Markell then travelled back to Legislative Hall in Dover to join Autism Delaware in acknowledging April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. Governor Markell is a longtime advocate of employing individuals with autism spectrum disorder here in the First State and since 2007 Autism Delaware has taken the lead in providing programming so those individuals find success in the workforce through their Productive Opportunities for Work and Recreation program (POW&R).

POW&R assists adults with autism spectrum disorder in securing and maintaining employment. Co-funded by the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Autism Delaware, POW&R provides coaches and support to employers and employees so both have a positive experience. In an interview with Delaware Public Radio’s Cathy Carter, Autism Delaware Executive Director, Teresa Avery spoke about POW&R and its advantages for the individuals it helps employ but also the companies that hire them. Ms. Avery noted that “overtime, the fact that the participant [of the POW&R program] has autism fades away and the participant becomes not-the- participant, but a member of the team, just like every other employee.” Ultimately, the community benefits from a more integrated society that utilizes the skills and talents of everyone.

DelARF is proud to spotlight Autism Delaware and the POW&R program. Through the hard work and dedication of our members and by working together, we can enhance the lives of Delawareans with disabilities.

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To submit your organization or program for the Member Spotlight, contact DelARF Associate Executive Director, Carolyn Petrak at cpetrak@delarf.org

2015 DSP Day Call for Nominations!

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It is time once again to honor our most dedicated and remarkable professionals at the 2015 DSP Day Luncheon.

Nominate an outstanding DSP and join us for 2015 Direct Support Professionals Day on Thursday, September 3, 2015 at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

Download the Call for Nominations for this year’s event for instructions, guidelines and more details. The deadline for ALL nominations is Friday, June 12th!

Want to get involved?  Contact Carolyn Petrak, cpetrak@delarf.org or (302) 622-9177 x101.

DelARF-Sponsored Janitorial Training

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Working in collaboration with our partners from SourceAmerica, DelARF sponsored a 3-day Janitorial Training event in New Castle April 7th through 9th. The training was designed to benefit the entry-level custodial employee as well as teach seasoned managers some of the best practices in the janitorial services arena.

Source America’s Charles “Mickey” Crowe, one of the foremost experts in the industry, led the 3-day training and discussed a wide variety of subjects ranging from choosing the right chemicals to how to implement an effective quality assurance strategy.

With over 30 employees from Easter Seals, ServiceSource, Goodwill, Connections, and Chimes participating, the training was considered a great success! Thanks to these organizations and their employees for committing the time and resources to attend this important event.

We look forward to using the momentum the training has built to implement regular training workshops statewide; we intend to focus the next training on “advanced floor care.” Floor care is a vital component of any commercial cleaning enterprise and according to Mickey, “there is untapped potential in floor care and other cleaning services that could employ more persons with significant disabilities.”

DelARF would like to also acknowledge Brandt and Alvin Emory from APS Cleaning Services. APS was gracious enough to host the event at their training facility and allow us use of their machines, space, and materials.

Member Advantages

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We are pleased to announce that we have entered into a new partnership to benefit all of our members.

The Outside-In® Companies, CBI Group, Placers and Barton Career Advisors provide talent management services in recruitment, temporary staffing, and outplacement.

“We know that talent can be a real difference maker in your company. As a DelARF member, you will receive significant discounts on talent services that you already buy today in the course of running your business!” says Outside-In® President, Chris Burkhard.

  • Do you have a need to hire key staff but don’t have the Human Resources staff to handle the recruitment process?
  • Have you considered using a temporary workforce to give you budget flexibility, but don’t know how to get started?
  • Do you experience highs and lows in hiring and need a steadier flexible recruiting stream that you can turn on and off as needed?
  • Is your company experiencing a reduction in force? If so, you need tools at your disposal to help your impacted workforce get redeployed quickly as you do the right thing for the community and for the brand you represent!

No matter what your talent needs, the Outside-In® Companies can help and will provide you as a DelARF member, competitive pricing! As a values-based company founded in Delaware in 2001, the Outside-In® team is committed to providing “Service to the Nth Degree” to DelARF members.

If you are interested in learning more about the Outside-In® Companies and their services, please visit their website at www.outsideincompanies.com or call their Newark office at (877) 746-8450. Be sure to tell them you are a DelARF member to qualify for the discount.

DelARF Staff Participates in Legislative Hall Activities

DelARF Director of Employment Programs, Paul Beane,  accepts the Governor’s 2014 Team Excellence Award from ABLE Act advocate Kayla Kosmalski and Governor Jack Markell

DelARF staff members attended and participated in Disability Day at Legislative Hall in Dover on Wednesday, March 25th. Members of the disability, provider, and nonprofit communities descended on the state capitol to promote their programs, advocate for disabled individuals and increase awareness of disability related issues.

DelARF’s Director of Employment Programs, Paul Beane  (pictured above receiving his award from ABLE Act advocate Kayla Kosmalski) was one of seven recipients of the Governor’s 2014 Team Excellence Award for his participation on the “A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities” initiative aimed at increasing employment opportunities for Delawareans with disabilities and addressing the challenges those individuals face while trying to stay an active member of the Delaware workforce. Governor Jack Markell presented the awards in his Legislative Hall office with fellow awardee, Secretary of Health and Social Services, Rita Landraf. Other agencies honored include the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Department of Labor, Department of transportation and the Office of the Public Defender.

DelARF Associate Executive Director, Carolyn Petrak also participated in the Disability Day activities by submitting testimony to the Delaware House of Representatives Committee on Health and Human Development in favor of House Bill (HB) 60, Delaware Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE) Savings Accounts. The bill creates an ABLE program in Delaware (implementing federal legislation signed by President Obama in December 2014) which creates savings accounts for persons with disabilities that bear tax advantages similar to 529 education accounts. Monies from these accounts can be used for disability related expenses, such as education, transportation, financial management, and legal fees among others. Before the passing of this federal law, individuals with disabilities were limited to savings that could not exceed $2,000 without becoming ineligible for public assistance such as SSI and Medicaid. HB 60 passed committee on March 25, 2015 with a vote of 1 favorable, 8 on its merits and zero unfavorable. Present for the hearing was 8-year-old Kayla Kosmalski and her mother Amy. The Kosmalski Family spent the past five years working with legislators in Congress to get the federal bill passed and were on hand in February in Washington, DC to help celebrate the achievement with Vice President Joe Biden. HB 60 will now move on for a full House vote in the coming weeks.

In addition to participation in Disability Day, DelARF Executive Director, Thomas Cook presented testimony in front of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) hearing for the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services budget review on Thursday, March 26, 2015. Mr. Cook’s testimony included a request for an additional $2.64 million in state funding to bring provider reimbursement to 80% of the benchmark rate Secretary Landgraf submitted to the Office of Management and Budget and the Controller General in January 2014. Mr. Cook also requested the inclusion of Family Support funding in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget that will provide families caring for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their own homes the resources they need to care for their loved ones as their own age begins to make caretaking difficult.