December 2016
        In this issue 
From the Superintendent

As 2016 draws to a close, I'd like to take this opportunity to reflect on the past year. Our system of supporting individuals with developmental disabilities continues to undergo major changes to the traditional way services have been delivered for the past 40 years. 

Despite these changes and the uncertainty about the future, the dedication and care exhibited by our staff has been incredible. They've never lost sight of our mission and spend every day focused on improving the lives of the individuals and families we support. We are extremely grateful to have such an amazing team and could not do this important work without them.

This year's biggest change has been our transition out of providing direct services through the adult centers. While we hoped to complete that transition this fall, Hamilton County's process has drawn out longer than anyone expected. The county continues to negotiate with the chosen provider and has advised us not to announce the provider until those negotiations are complete. We don't know how long this process will take, but we'll continue to update you as we can.

Not all developments this year have been as difficult as the transition. We've made strides in several areas, including significant state legislation. Ohio became the first state in the nation to offer STABLE accounts, which allow people with disabilities to save and invest money without losing eligibility for certain public benefit programs like Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. In addition, Gov. John Kasich visited St. Joseph Home in July to sign the legislation finally removing the "r-word" from Ohio law.

In our own community, our staff have been instrumental in raising the quality of service from providers with the Gold Standard . Our collaboration with providers has become a model for the rest of the state, and we've added seven more Gold Standard providers this year. We're also working with providers toward full integration and expect to have created integrated community experiences for more than 1,500 individuals before the end of the year. Additionally, our staff assist individuals in achieving competitive integrated employment and are leaders in the state for Employment First referrals, which helps more people work in the community.

While certain rules and trends have increased the number of individuals on the waiver waiting list, we've vastly improved our internal processes for monitoring the needs of those waiting for waivers. Throughout the year, we've connected many individuals on the waiting list with needed services while they wait for a waiver. We've also been able to provide more than 200 individuals on the waiting list with waivers.

These few highlights barely scratch the surface of the great work HCDDS has accomplished in 2016. While the path this year has not always been easy, I'm extremely proud of the progress our staff and our community have made in supporting opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to live, work, learn, and fully participate in their communities. I look forward to continuing these positive trends in the year to come.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the work we do. From all of us at Hamilton County DD Services, we wish you and your family happy holidays and a joyful new year.    
Alice C. Pavey

Common interests and community exploration lead to lifelong friendship
Entering Gloria Bryant & Emma Griffin's apartment is like stepping into a magazine. It's warm, welcoming and full of creative inspiration.

Bryant, 61, and Griffin, 76, always enjoyed sewing, baking and other crafty endeavors, but their creativity blossomed once they met Jeremy Lambertson.

Gloria Bryant, left, and Emma Griffin in their apartment with Jeremy Lambertson. They all enjoy creating holiday decorations and exploring Cincinnati.
Lambertson, who works for The AMT Group, has been working with Griffin and Bryant since 2009 and is with them every day. It's that constant companionship that's led to discovering fun activities. Together they explore Cincinnati, make Pinterest-worthy crafts and bake treats for others. They even took a vacation to Florida together, which fulfilled one of Bryant's yearly goals.

"I've gotten to know Emma and Gloria well and know what they like to do. And it's stuff I also enjoy," he said. 

In the past few months, they've gone downtown for the streetcar opening and taken cooking classes, in addition to their regular visits to the Turner Farms market and various events at Washington Park and Fountain Square.   Sandra Perry, an SSA who has worked with them for 10 years, said she's seen a remarkable difference in both women. "For a while, it was hard for Emma to get motivated to be in the community," Perry said. "Now she's more engaged and willing to go out."

Bryant admits she is typically a homebody, but will go anywhere in the community Lambertson suggests. "He's a very good man," she said. "We love him."

Griffin and Bryant, who met many years ago, used to attend Jackson and Kidd adult centers. "We worked together and became friends," Griffin said. Now, instead of working, they choose to explore the community with Lambertson.

He's helped them lead such a full life, Lambertson now trains new staff on how to connect the people they work with to the community. "It's about being caring and attentive for the people you're working with," he said.

When they're not visiting local museums or parks, or heading to restaurants, shops and movies, the trio is often creating new d├ęcor for their apartment that would make Martha Stewart jealous.  For Christmas, they've made elegant garlands, wreaths made out of pinecones and gathered branches and decorated the tree with nearly 1,200 ornaments. At Easter, they paint blown eggs then embellish them with glitter. Halloween is all about the spider webs, skeletons and other ghoulish adornments. And there are always fun cut-out cookies and treats. Each year and each holiday is a chance to get more creative with both the baking and crafts.

"He's the best, and we love working with him," Griffin said.  Now, a friendship that has already spanned decades includes one more lifelong friend. 

2017 Annual Plan

The draft of Hamilton County DD Services' 2017 Annual Plan is now available online. Each of the 10 goals follows two fundamental beliefs: move toward integration in everything we do and build the capacity of community organizations to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

If you would like to submit comments or feedback, email Dawn Freudenberg.
Winter Safety Tips

It's been cold for weeks, but winter officially starts on Dec. 21. As the season changes, it's important to review your preparedness plans. 

Hamilton County DD Services' Disaster Preparedness Committee has tips to help keep you safe this winter, including how to winterize your home and car, terms for winter weather and more. Click here to view the safety tips.

HCDDS Funding Specialist recognized for flood clean-up efforts

Like many people in Cincinnati, Jeff Sexton was shocked by the damage caused by flooding in Norwood this August. Basements in some homes were covered in several feet of water, and treasured belongings were lost. 

The Norwood Chamber of Commerce recognized several volunteers, including HCDDS employee Jeff Sexton, left, for helping with flood clean-up efforts.
"I was unaffected at my home in Norwood, but seeing the devastation and hearing all of the cries for help on a flood page that was created, my kids and I began going to these people's houses and helping them clear out their basements," he said.

Sexton, who is an HCDDS funding specialist, was recently recognized with other volunteers for his help and efforts by the Norwood Chamber of Commerce.

Along with many other volunteer crews comprised of Norwood residents, he worked every day for two weeks helping his neighbors clean up their homes. And, instead of taking a vacation like he planned, Sexton canceled it and used the money to help buy two water heaters for people who lost those in the flood.

"We just went from one house to the next helping everyone get cleared out and sanitized, and didn't stop until the last house on the list was finished," he said.  "I've never witnessed a community pull together like that before. It's something I'll remember the rest of my life. Then to be honored for it, I was kind of floored."

Many other volunteers were not recognized, Sexton said, but the whole community pitched in by donating cleaning supplies, toiletries, food, and other items people needed.

"People lost a lot due to the flood, but I believe that community gained a lot more in terms of community connection," he said. 

Running Man ChallengeRMchallenge

This year was full of viral video challenges and the Running Man Challenge was no exception. 

Bobbie B. Fairfax School was called out first and then passed the task to Margaret B. Rost School, who gladly accepted the challenge.  Great work by all the students and staff! Click on each photo to watch the videos. 

Autism insurance law in Ohioautismlaw
Survey for voters with disabilities

Both houses of the Ohio General Assembly have approved a bill that would require private insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The bill requires health plan issuers to provide coverage and establish minimum coverage requirements for autism. Furthermore, the bill states that insurance providers cannot terminate or deny coverage to someone based solely on an ASD diagnosis. Learn more about the bill here.

The deadline to take the Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) survey, which aims to measure the experiences of voters with disabilities in this year's election, is Jan. 1, 2017. This survey is for voters with disabilities only. It can be completed independently or with assistance. 

Click here to take the survey. If you would like a paper survey, Diana Mairose is collecting surveys in Hamilton County. You can contact her   via email or by phone, 513-559-6636. 

Individuals receiving waiver services recently received a letter from the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) regarding managed care enrollment. The phrasing of the letter created confusion and ODM has since clarified itself.

Individuals enrolled in a Home and Community-Based Services waiver may choose to enroll in managed care instead of the traditional fee-for-service program, but enrollment is 100% optional.  Click here for more information.

Rethinking Community Housingcindyvideo

Uptown Housing Cooperative

For many people with disabilities, finding housing that is affordable and accessible can be difficult. Locally, some families have taken on the challenge and are coming up with creative ideas to address these issues.

Cindy Molloy, who has a young adult daughter with autism, has been working on building a housing cooperative near the University of Cincinnati. The idea is to bring people with and without disabilities together to bridge social capital and develop natural community supports.

Watch the video by clicking the image or visiting our YouTube page.

Debbie Spears and Donna Kurtz took a brief break from the holiday party at Beckman to pose for this photo. Festivities included gingerbread house decorating, a performance from the Beckman choir, lunch and many other fun activities. 

We'll share more photos from the holiday parties at Beckman and Kidd on our Facebook page. 

State Representative  Jonathan Dever was one of three recipients of this year's Legislator of the Year Award from the Ohio Association of County Boards of DD. Dever was instrumental in several DD-related bills, including legislation that removed the "R-word" from Ohio statute. He was introduced by our Superintendent Alice Pavey and advocate Diana Mairose at the ceremony in early December.

Photo by OACB
  • Christmas Day observed. Monday, Dec. 26. All agency buildings and offices closed.
  • New Year's Day observed. Monday, Jan. 2. All agency buildings and offices closed.
  • Provider Forum. 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4, at Queensgate, 801 W. 8th St.
  • Thunder-Snow:  Artists Remember the Blizzard of 1978. 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, at Thunder-Sky Inc., 4573 Hamilton Ave. in Northside. Exhibit open through Feb. 4. Visit the website for gallery hours.
  • Building Resilience Family Session. 6:30 - 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, at Lighthouse Youth Services, 401 E. McMillan St. This session is designed to help young people and their families grow stronger - and build resilience in order to face life stresses and adversity.  Click here to download a flier
  • HCDDS Board Meeting. 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the Support Center, 1520 Madison Road.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day observed. Monday, Jan. 16. All agency buildings and offices closed.