Nebraska Planning Council on
2015 Annual Program Performance Report Summary
The Nebraska Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities works to address identified needs by conducting advocacy, systems change, and capacity building efforts that promote self-determination, integration, and inclusion. Key activities include conducting outreach, providing training and technical assistance, removing barriers, developing coalitions, encouraging citizen participation, and keeping policymakers informed about disability issues. In 2015, the Nebraska Planning Council received $472,622 in federal funding authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Act to support its work and priorities identified in the Council’s State Plan. Its 24 members are appointed by the Governor with 60% of these members being individuals with developmental disabilities or family members. Council activities in 2015 included the following:
- Six voluntary Regional Councils comprised of individuals with disabilities, family members, agency representatives, service providers, and advocates conducted local activities across the state in advocacy, capacity building, and systemic change based on the Council’s State Plan priorities. As a funding source to help implement the state plan through public education and awareness efforts, Regional Council funds supported 493 individuals across the state to attend conferences, workshops, and training in leadership, self-advocacy, and self-determination.
- The Council supports self-advocacy as a valuable resource to bring system improvements and awareness through People First of Nebraska (PFN), a state-wide nonprofit advocacy organization led by people with disabilities. PFN had a very productive year, demonstrating great progress and positive outcomes marking a turning point for the organization. PFN contracted with three support staff, providing statewide coverage for the first time in the organization’s history, resulting in an increase in membership and the establishment of new chapters. Members helped design and create a series of awareness posters promoting respect and self-determination for people with developmental disabilities. Over 1,000 posters were distributed statewide. The PFN annual conference provides training to over 200 self-advocates, with self-advocates taking an active role as conference presenters.
- Fritz & O’Hare Associates was funded to develop the Nebraska Healthcare Practitioner (NHP) Training project to create a curriculum designed to increase the knowledge and understanding of healthcare practitioners when treating or relating to persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD). A dynamic presentation was designed utilizing several modes of delivery, including a PowerPoint presentation, panel discussion, and videos which were created specifically for the project in cooperation with Southeast Community College (SCC). The NHP curriculum is also helpful for direct support professionals who accompany individuals to medical appointments, as well as health care providers in all fields. A link to the training materials is on the Council’s website to promote this curriculum.
- Council funds were awarded to the Brain Injury Association of Nebraska to provide two brain injury trainings for developmental disabilities providers to increase their capacity to serve individuals with brain injury in their programs. These training were attended by 127 people at the Association of Community Professionals (ACP) 2015 Spring Conference. Service providers serving individuals with both behavioral health needs and developmental disabilities were targeted, and provider staff throughout the state participated in the trainings and the assessments. Three focus areas were how both developmental disabilities and brain injury can be similar with aggressive or self-harming behaviors, physical abuse, or seizure activity; that treatment teams need to be aware as it can save time, frustration, and money; and, that brain injury affects the individual’s daily functioning, impacts their behaviors, and complicates treatment.
- Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska, Inc. received Council funding to revise their supported employment approach to ensure that effective customized employment practices are adopted, implemented, and understood. The revised approach will increase the number of job seekers with developmental disabilities who secure and maintain employment in current Goodwill service sites across the state. Griffin-Hammis Associates’ Senior Consultant, Doug Crandell, visited Central Nebraska to evaluate Goodwill’s current supported employment practices and identify needed improvements. Mr. Crandell continues to facilitate video conferences with Goodwill’s leadership team to review progress, measure improvements and make needed adjustments to the plan. By the end of 2015, project activities resulted in 11 more individuals securing employment. 2016 will bring additional positive outcomes through the development of the Active Employer Council engaging local business leaders in the strategic plan.
- To promote the Council’s goal of increasing employment of individuals with developmental disabilities working in integrated settings and earning at least minimum wage, the Council funded a variety of projects. The Nebraska Association of Service Providers (NASP) used funds to develop and promote an employer guide. The messaging campaign was to increase the understanding of employers that individuals with developmental disabilities are an asset to businesses. Additionally, the Council funded Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to collaborate with the Autism Spectrum Disorder Network to train staff in vocational evaluation techniques and communication strategies to increase successful employment outcomes for youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Darla Wilkerson with The Consulting Services and Information Network assisted Region V Services to implement an Employment First vision with strategies in a rural community initiative. (As a result, Region V more than doubled the number of people employed from 11 to 28, and a sustainability plan was developed to support the project vision.)
- In an effort to reach minorities, the Council funded the Minority Outreach Resources Education (M.O.R.E.) Community Inclusion Through Minority Outreach grant in 2015. The program provides support and advocacy for minority families in North and South Omaha with medical, physical, mental, developmental, and behavioral health needs. Their project entails connecting minority families of children and young adults with disabilities to professionals, peers, and mentors without disabilities to provide inclusive community events and activities. In 2015, M.O.R.E. sponsored a variety of activities focused on increasing communication and personal relationships between families who have typically developing children and families with special needs children.
In addition to funding these and other projects, Council staff take an active role in bringing advocacy and awareness in the following ways:
- Council staff advocate, collaborate, and increase awareness for individuals with developmental disabilities by serving on numerous advisory councils and committees: Nebraska Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC), Nebraska Assistive Technology Partnership Advisory Council, Brain Injury Advisory Council, Nebraska Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (NCCD), Nebraska Association of Service Providers (NASP), Nebraska Oral Health Advisory Panel, the Nebraska Title V Program - Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs (CYSHCN) Needs Assessment workgroup, and the Coordinated Funding Committee. The Designated State Agency for the Council is the Division of Public Health. Council staff serve on various work groups focused on the Division of Public Health’s strategic plan, which provides a roadmap to continue to help Nebraskans live healthier lives now and into the future. This collaboration addresses health disparities for persons with disabilities and develops strategies to lay the foundation for greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in generic public health programs.
- Collaborative activities between the federally funded DD Network Partners (Munroe-Meyer Institute/University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and Disability Rights Nebraska) foster partnerships within the network, including significant information sharing, joint training, and unified advocacy efforts.
- The Council annually publishes Newsline during the legislative session to keep citizens informed regarding proposed legislation related to developmental disabilities and providing status updates on legislative bills the Council has selected to follow.
- The Council has been paying close attention to federal legislative changes and policies that will impact individuals with developmental disabilities. This includes engaging in Nebraska’s State Plan development to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and supporting state legislation (LB 591) to implement the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act. The Council is also following Nebraska’s State Transition Plan to implement CMS’ (Center for Medicaid Services) new rule re-defining Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) which will ensure that individuals receiving services and supports through Medicaid’s HCBS programs have full access to the benefits of community living and receive services in the most integrated setting.
If you have additional questions or comments about the Council’s activities or would like to receive a copy of the complete annual report, please contact:
Nebraska Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities
Nebraska Health & Human Services
301 Centennial Mall South
P.O. Box 95026
Lincoln, NE 68509-5026
Phone: 402-471-2330 Fax: 402-471-0180
(Alternate formats for persons with disabilities are available by calling any of the above numbers.)
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