Council Annual Report Summary

Community and Rural Health Planning
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​​​​​​​​​​2023 Annual Report Summary

The Nebraska Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCDD or Council) works to address identified needs by engaging in 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. For Federal Fiscal Year 2023, NCDD received $527,570.00 in federal funding authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Act to support its work and priorities identified in the Council's State Plan. The Council's 25 members are appointed by the Governor with 60% of these members being individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) or parents or guardians of children with DD or immediate relatives or guardians of adults with DD who cannot advocate for themselves. Council activities in 2023 included the following:

  • The Council provided funding to support the Nebraska Association of Service Providers (NASP) disability educational film project, “Inclusive Economy”, in partnership with Nebraska Public Media. The goal for the “Inclusive Economy” film project was to educate and increase participation in competitive, integrated employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) for both employees and employers. The result was a comprehensive, educational, enjoyable film that featured accurate information on employment opportunities and supports for people with IDD in Nebraska. The “Inclusive Economy” film will live on Nebraska Public Media’s website in perpetuity and every year the film will be shown during July (Disability Pride Month) and October (Disability Employment Awareness Month). NASP agencies will also show the film to new hires as further training material.
  • Continuing the efforts to improve employment outcomes and services for individuals with IDD, NCDD continued its contract with national subject matter expert Dr. Lisa Mills. Dr. Mills has expertise and knowledge as a national consultant on Employment First who has worked with over 30 states, including Medicaid, Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation (NE VR), and workforce agencies. She has expertise in Medicaid waivers, Customized Employment, and value/outcome-based reimbursement models for supported employment services. Throughout 2023, NCDD disseminated Mills’ comprehensive study report and recommendations on how to improve supported employment services for Nebraskans with IDD. In September 2023, NCDD co-hosted a one-day Supported Employment (SE) Summit in which Dr. Mills was the lead facilitator. The overarching theme of the summit was focused on “Working Together to Change the Way Nebraska Does SE” with the primary goal to increase employment opportunities and outcomes for Nebraskans who can benefit from SE. This event brought over 100 participants from multiple agencies, advocacy organizations, SE service providers, people with lived experience, and more [including NE VR, NE DHHS Divisions of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and Behavioral Health (DBH), NE Department of Education’s Office of Special Education (NDE-OSE), Disability Rights Nebraska, Munroe Meyer Institute (MMI), and NASP)]. The participants were engaged as part of active listening sessions, were asked to define solutions for multiple key questions and identify what actions they and the organization they represented could commit to so that the defined solutions could become a reality. Dr. Mills is developing a comprehensive action plan to provide a roadmap to advance competitive integrated employment outcomes for Nebraskans with IDD, autism, mental/behavioral health needs, and acquired brain injury.

  • People First of Nebraska (PFN) is a cross-disability organization and the state’s only self-advocacy organization run by and for people with disabilities. PFN supports Nebraskans with disabilities to speak for themselves, know their rights and responsibilities, and support disability advocacy and leadership. Through coalition participation PFN continues to broaden statewide efforts to reach, educate, and engage younger self-advocates and their families in self-determination. PFN partnered with NASP and held its first pre-PFN Convention training, “Growing Independence Seminar”. It was hugely successful with over 60 attendees, self-advocates, and service providers. Together they participated in interactive sessions and discussion. PFN was involved with coordinating the 2023 Disability Pride event, which was a massive success. Crowd estimates were over 800 people and nearly 100 vendors/agencies provided great information, valuable resources, and accessible inclusive activities. PFN recruited four Disability Policy Specialist for the 2023 Legislative Unicameral Session, who were trained in policy advocacy. PFN educated 350 self-advocates, families, and professionals this project year.

  • NCDD has played a pivotal role in funding training to strengthen and incorporate true Person-Centered Planning (PCP) for participants receiving Home and Community-Based (HCBS) waiver services in Nebraska. The Council’s initial two-year investment (2020 through 2022) with Mark Friedman provided robust virtual PCP training to service coordination staff, service recipients and their families/guardians, service providers, policymakers, advocates, and other interested persons. Systems change resulted, including the 2022 DHHS Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) commitment to using the University of Missouri at Kansas City’s (UMKC) Charting the LifeCourse (CtLC) framework principles and tools in the service planning process. The CtLC framework was developed to help individuals and families, of all abilities and at any age or stage of life, to develop a vision for a good life, think about what they need to know and do, identify how to find and/or develop supports, and discover what it takes to live the lives they want to live. In 2022 and 2023, DDD invested in a full membership contract with the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDS) and UMKC Community of Practice (CoP) for Supporting Families Across the Lifespan. NCDD’s Executive Director belongs to the Nebraska CoP. Participation in the CoP provides state CoP teams with state specific technical assistance and support from the national CoP Project Team, and a learning community across and between states to strengthen PCP when supporting families. To keep the PCP momentum moving, NCDD funded an initiative on establishing a network of innovators and early adopters who champion and support the adoption and integration of the CtLC framework into Nebraska’s HCBS waiver policy, practice, and procedures. This project focused on families, adults with IDD, and state agency staff and case managers to ensure alignment across audiences in Nebraska. NCCD’s CtLC project hosted five Foundational Overview Events with 376 attendees, two Skill Building Series with the maximum of 150 attendees each, and one intense Ambassador Series course with 15 graduates. CtLC Ambassadors were provided the opportunity to take additional courses with the CtLC Badge Academy to enhance their skills. CtLC Ambassadors are now equipped to embed the CtLC framework in various ways and use it as a lens within their future advocacy work. CtLC Ambassadors who have received the “Presenters Badge” are equipped to continue offering Foundational Presentations on CtLC to broad audiences. CtLC Ambassadors who received the “CtLC in Action Facilitators Badge” are equipped to facilitate groups of people who are trying to implement the CtLC framework and would benefit from peer learning and support. In addition, DDD has expanded its intent to embed the CtLC framework within case management practices. NCDD’s CtLC project made it possible for the LifeCourse Nexus team to train more than 400 people across the state on how to use the CtLC framework and principles as the center of the Individualized Service Plan for HCBS waiver recipients. By December 2023, all HCBS waiver participants had at least one CtLC tool, that was agreed to by the participant and the Service Coordinator, completed and incorporated into their person-centered plan.

  • Because of the success of Niagara University’s Emergency Management Disability Training (EM-DAT) project, the Council continued to fund this project for a third year. The project’s ultimate objective was to ensure that individuals with IDD are accurately and appropriately planned for in emergency operation plans, which would address response and recovery that meets the needs of the IDD population. This was achieved by including individuals with disabilities and access and functional needs through inclusive planning and active participation. 91 agencies (136 attendees) attended the nine two-day or half day programs, learning what THEY needed to do to incorporate effective emergency planning and preparedness into their agency's scope of services. Additionally, there were 122 attendees at the four virtual sessions with three of those sessions focused on Developmental Disability Service Providers. The success of this project hinged on the importance of relationship building with agencies including NAEM (NE Association of Emergency Managers), NEMA (NE Emergency Management Agency), and key disability organizations. Overall, the project was able to train and educate over 250 Nebraska families and professionals on Emergency Management for Disability Awareness, and inclusive emergency management work is continuing across the state.

  • Parent and Training Information (PTI) was funded for a third year to provide training, events, and webinars on the transition to adulthood and living independently to youth, young adults, their families, and to professionals and caseworkers. PTI Nebraska is Nebraska's only Parent Center and serves as a statewide resource for families of children with disabilities and special health care needs. PTI’s focus was to increase the number of transition-based trainings and incorporating trainings in Spanish to enhance their continued outreach to Hispanic families in Nebraska. PTI’s strategy to reach more Hispanic families was to host a resource fair in South Omaha in which they had over 15 vendors participate, and every table had a Spanish translator. This was a great achievement that helped make the resource fair a big success. The project team received positive feedback from both parents and the vendor organizations about the great resource information that was shared and about all the available Spanish translators. PTI was able to network with 50 Spanish-speaking families and 11 young adults at this resource fair. During the second year of funding, PTI reached 158 Hispanic families, 139 parents, and 108 English and Spanish-speaking young adults with disabilities through trainings, events, and individual meetings.

  • The University of Nebraska at Omaha had two goals with its Project FEET (Family Engaged Educational Training). First to increase family knowledge about special education and skills in partnering with school professionals. Second to increase school professionals’ knowledge and skills in engaging diverse families in the special education process. An advisory board was established to provide insights into the development of the Project FEET curriculum to use in college courses taken by school professionals. The curriculum content was based on best practices and was aimed to be true to parents’ lived experiences and allowed school professionals to tailor their recommendations for supporting diverse families and included six training modules with interactive components for students to complete and reciprocal partnership-based activities for school professionals and families to do together. The curriculum components were piloted during the Spring and Fall of the 2023 semesters. Families and school professionals reported high satisfaction with the curriculum of the program and increasing their advocacy. Overall, this project was able to reach, train, and educate over 80 families and self-advocates.

  • The Nebraska Notice of Rights and Obligations (NORO) Workgroup was initiated towards the end of 2022. Working together, the DDD Program Specialist along with NCDD’s Program Specialist, five self-advocates, and three DDD Service Coordinators updated the NORO for Nebraska. For many years, the Nebraska NORO was very hard to read and understand. Many discussions were held with self-advocates to learn what they thought their rights were and what they thought were the most important rights to them. Words were focused on first. What they were and how they were placed. Then the pictures were reviewed to determine which pictures made the most sense visually. After many meetings and discussions, the workgroup finalized the draft of the new Nebraska NORO. Feedback was sought from other self-advocates in Nebraska and with professionals. After receiving additional feedback from their peers, the workgroup felt confident in the updated NORO. There will be minor follow-ups and finalizations in 2024 and discussions of a possible brochure and/or video explaining the Nebraska NORO.

  • During the First Session of the One Hundred-Eighth Legislature, 820 bills were introduced, and 50 bills were approved by the Governor. NCDD staff listened, discussed, and monitored the legislative bills that pertained to individuals with disabilities. 31 legislative bills were selected as a priority for the Council. The Council Executive Director testified at the Committee hearings on six proposed legislative bills that that would affect the IDD population. Additionally, written comments (in support, opposition, or neutral capacity) were submitted to proposed legislation and were included in the official hearing records as exhibits. NCDD creates and sends out a yearly publication, “Newsline”. “Newsline” is a summary and status of the bills that are supported, opposed, or tracked by the Council. “Newsline 2023” was mailed to over 610 individuals, families, professionals, and our 49 senators. NCDD continues to serve as a hub for legislative resources and information for families, individuals with developmental disabilities, educators, HCBS providers, other disability professionals, and additional constituency groups.

Please contact us with any questions or comments about the Council's activities or if you would like to receive a copy of the complete annual report. Alternate formats for persons with disabilities are available.

Nebraska Council on Developmental Disabilities
Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services
301 Centennial Mall South
PO Box 95026
Lincoln, NE  68509-5026
TTD: 800-833-7352​

Nebraska Council on Developmental Disabilities 2023 Membership

​​​Rachel Siffring, Chair
​Quinton Corwin
​Sherri Dawson
​Caiti Donaldson
​Jason Gieschen
​Shauna Graham
​Tony Green
​George Griffith
​Dustin Henderson
​Shaistha Kiran Karipi
​Matt Kaslon
​Seamus Kelly
​Eddie Kraska
​Beth Libra Plisek
​Cheryl Montgomery
​Paige Rose
​Mark Shriver
​Tricia Strauch
​Judy Trent
​Dee Valenti
​​Nate Watson

​Kirsten Wilcox

Nebraska Council on Developmental Disabilities Staff

​​Kristen Larsen
Executive Director
Rachel Ward
Program Specialist​
Edith Titamoh
Program Specialist

Nikki Krause
Administrative Support

2023 Annual Program Performance Report​​