MDOD Newsletter                                                                             December, 2017
2017: A Year In Pictures 
                                        
The Maryland Department of Disabilities was busy in 2017 working to change Maryland for the better along side those with disabilities in our state. We were pleased to share these experiences with Marylanders through our social media and community outreach efforts. 
 
Read on and find out which images were liked and shared in 2017 and how these photos represent the work of the department over the past year.   We look forward to continuing our work under the leadership of Governor Hogan, with other State partners, and private stakeholders to change Maryland for the better as we welcome the new year!   
 NUMBER TEN: Advancing Mentorship and Advocacy
group standing behind letters spelling brave
First Annual Brave in the Attempt presenters

On June 7, 2017 fourteen men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities gathered together to present the first annual Brave in the Attempt TED style talks. These men and women shared their challenges and triumphs as a way to motivate their peers to work toward their best life. The Maryland Department of Disabilities, the Developmental Disabilities Administration, and Special Olympics Maryland  partnered to present this motivating event to almost 200 audience members. 
 
The second annual Brave in the Attempt event will occur at Towson University on June 6th.  Stay tuned for ticket information!
                
                        Video: 2017 Brave in the Attempt Event
                              
first lady and several women smiling at state
Left to Right: Bette Ann Mobley (Maryland ABLE Program Director), Karen-Ann Lichtenstein (MCOD Chair and President/CEO of The Coordinating Center), Patricia Sastoque (DDA, Director of Programs) and MDOD Secretary Carol Beatty enjoy Brave in the Attempt speakers.
NUMBER NINE: Improving State Government Collaboration
three women smiling at camera
Image: Staff from three state agencies make up MPAH

One of the primary goals of the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) is to improve state government collaboration as it relates to the disability community. The department works toward this goal daily through the offering of technical assistance and the establishment of strategic partnerships.  The Maryland Partnership for Affordable Housing (MPAH) is one example of this collaborative work. Through this partnership, MDOD operates in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Community Development along with the Department of Health and other partners.  This consortium offers a multi-disciplinary approach to improving the availability of affordable and accessible housing in Maryland illustrating that this collaborative approach is able to affect real change in our communities.  
                                                                                                                                                  
                        MDOD Blog: Housing Super Heroes
NUMBER EIGHT: Promoting Behavioral Health Awareness
 
little girl posing with first lady and other woman
Maryland's First Lady poses with art show participant and Assistant State Superintendent Franczkowski
In 2017, the Maryland Department of Disabilities joined state and local partners in marking behavioral health awareness month in May with a series of anti-stigma art shows and events. This included an art show hosted by Mrs. Hogan highlighting Maryland artists who have personally been affected by behavioral health concerns. 
                    
Additionally, Governor Hogan declared May 5th through 12th Children's Mental Health Awareness Week in Maryland.  To bring recognition to this campaign, Mrs. Hogan hosted a youth art display at the Lowe House Office Building in Annapolis.  Celebrating Through Art: The First Lady's Youth Mental Health Awareness Art Display grand opening and reception was held on May 8th and welcomed many student artists, teachers, service providers, and state government officials.  Youth artists with and without disabilities came together as one artistic voice to highlight the importance of good mental health for all children in Maryland.

                        Children's Mental Health Matters! Campaign
                                       
back of three jackets with painting
The adult art show featured interactive displays including the painted jackets pictured above exhibiting behavioral health awareness themes.
NUMBER SEVEN: Expanding Emergency Preparedness Resources

The Maryland Department of Disabilities, working with local jurisdictions and fellow state agencies, released a comprehensive emergency manager's toolkit which prioritizes planning for the needs of people with disabilities during preparedness, response, and recovery from a disaster or other emergency.  Planning for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs Toolkit was almost a two year process, but it is receiving national attention as a best practice for incorporating various support needs into one coordinated strategy.                                    
                                                    
Department of Disabilities Director of Emergency Preparedness, Cecilia Warren, commented on the project by stating, " I was impressed with the level of interest we received not only from local emergency managers, but also from other states and federal agencies, as well. We are proud to share a body of knowledge that provides tools and materials for emergency managers to use when planning for people with disabilities. The toolkit emphasizes inclusive planning strategies and considerations so that all Marylanders are supported during a crisis situation."

Find out more:  Link to toolkit
NUMBER SIX: Developing Health Proficiency

woman in front of health chart Health education and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle is an important part of improving the quality of life for all Marylanders.  HealthMatters, Maryland! is a health initiative aimed at improving health and health knowledge of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the state of Maryland. The Department of Disabilities partnered with the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago to establish communities of practice for health aimed at educating those with disabilities along with their families and support providers on how to achieve and maintain a balanced lifestyle. To date, fourteen community based organizations are participating in this initiative with another application period planned for early 2018. 
 
NUMBER FIVE:  Increasing Service Options

man and woman smile into the camer and pet dog During the 2017 legislative session, Governor Hogan answered the call of disability advocates and proposed state budget funding for two new support waivers through the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) along with 100 new slots on the Autism waiver which operates out of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).  These waivers are aimed at reducing the service wait list for those with developmental disabilities and their families before a crisis is experienced.

"Our administration is proud to be able to proactively provide this additional support for individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, and caregivers," said Governor Hogan. "We have worked closely with families, advocates, and professionals to get the right combination of services to reduce the current waiting list, and ultimately improve the quality of life for Marylanders with disabilities."
                                                                     
Find out more about the two new DDA waivers:  DDA Website
Find out about the Autism Waiver:  MSDE Website
NUMBER FOUR: Recognizing An Essential Workforce
group shot at a gymnastics studio with young child in front

In 2017, MDOD expanded the DSP recognition effort to include those who provide support in the behavioral health field and in early intervention services such as the Infants and Toddlers Program (pictured above).

 

  
Governor Hogan issued a Proclamation declaring September 10th through 16th Direct Support Professional Recognition Week in Maryland. Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are vital to the life experiences of many people with disabilities in our state.  From employment support to community living assistance, DSPs can be the key difference between community participation and isolation for some with disabilities. 
 
The Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) and the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) joined others throughout the United States in marking the importance of DSP Recognition Week in 2017. MDOD and DDA traveled Maryland throughout September and October thanking this important workforce for changing Maryland for the better each and every day.
 
NUMBER THREE: Educating Marylanders in Every Region Governor Hogan presents ADA Proclamation to Secretary Beatty
  
In celebration of the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Maryland Department of Disabilities hosted a traveling disAbility History Tour throughout Maryland during July and August of 2017.  Advocacy: A History of People Speaking Up for Themselves was on loan from the Museum of disAbility History and traced the advocacy movement from early educational facilities to the development of organizations established for and by individuals with disabilities. Maryland's disAbility History tour stopped at locations in Baltimore, Annapolis, Hagerstown, Waldorf, and Chestertown.

"I am proud that for the first time we are able to bring the opportunity to Marylanders throughout the state to learn about our shared history and celebrate the progress made due to the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Governor Larry Hogan. "As we honor our history we also look ahead knowing our state is strongest when all of our residents are able to contribute."
 
Find out more: ADA 27 Event Page   
                                        
Group of librarians pose in front of Charles County library table
Staff at the Charles County Public Library held free public information events for the week their location hosted the traveling display.
LG poses with family of three
NUMBER TWO: Improving Financial Security 
  
After extraordinary bipartisan support both at the federal and state level, the Maryland ABLE program launched and opened for participants on November 28, 2017.  Maryland ABLE accounts are a new way to help individuals with disabilities save money and pay for qualified disability-related expenses without jeopardizing federal means-tested benefits such as SSI or Medicaid. Maryland ABLE is focused on helping citizens with disabilities achieve greater financial security, build wealth, and contribute to long-term economic stability. Pictured at left is Lieutenant Governor Rutherford with the first Maryland ABLE participant and her family. 

"The launch of the Maryland ABLE program is a culmination of a bipartisan effort by citizens, advocates, and lawmakers working together to ensure that Marylanders with disabilities have the ability to save money while maintaining access to important benefits," said Governor Hogan. "This new program will offer the financial security that so many families and individuals need, and is one more way in which we are changing Maryland for the better."
 
Find out more:  ABLE Website Link
NUMBER ONE: Continuing Commitment to Disability Employment
 
Group stands with citation
Maryland business, Biggs and Featherbelle, receive a Governor's citation for their work increasing inclusive employment practices in Maryland.
Governor Larry Hogan signed Executive Order 01.01.2017.23 this fall declaring every October  Disability Employment Awareness Month in Maryland. The month is an opportunity to create greater recognition of the skills people with disabilities bring to employers and highlight efforts to expand employment opportunities for all Marylanders.

Governor Hogan's order takes Disability Employment Awareness Month a step further than the proclamations issued in the past.  The executive order not only designates October Disability Employment Awareness month in Maryland this year and every year moving forward, but it directs state government to take specific action steps to improve awareness of both the need for inclusive hiring in our state and the need for supportive accessible workplaces for those with disabilities. The executive order also establishes an accessibility coordinator within state government. The accessibility coordinator will provide technical assistance to ensure state agency communication efforts adhere to accessibility best practices in an efficient and cost effective manner.

"We know that an inclusive workforce is a strong workforce," said Department of Disabilities Secretary Carol A. Beatty. "I am very proud Maryland is able to highlight the importance of a business community which reflects the diversity of our state and support those with disabilities as they seek and retain successful employment. I am grateful to Governor Hogan for acknowledging the need for more attention to this very important issue and for planning effective action which will lead to increased employment opportunities, benefiting our economy and ultimately all Marylanders."

Find out more: Link to Executive Order

In addition to the Disability Employment Awareness Month Executive Order, numerous other strides were made to increase disability employment opportunities in Maryland during 2017 including:
  • Maryland's FY18 budget included $250,000 to support at least one college or university in exploring the development of an inclusive post-secondary education program for people with intellectual disabilities
  • Maryland, in partnership with the University of Maryland, received a $25,000 grant from the Think College National Coordinating Center to develop and host a series of capacity building institutes to expand programs at four-year and two-year institutions for students with intellectual disabilities
  • State partners are working to strengthen America's Job Centers across the state aided by the recent receipt of a federal Disability Employment Initiative Grant-allowing these employment support centers to serve more individuals including those requiring significant accommodations for success
  • As we move into the final year of the PROMISE federal grant, 75 percent of Maryland PROMISE youth have completed an unpaid work experience and 66 percent have completed a paid work assignment.  The grant aims to reinforce that early employment exposure and a collaborative relationship among support service providers decreases the likelihood that youth at risk will rely on public benefits later in life.  

Find out more: Maryland PROMISE Website

                        Improve Your Business Model Through Inclusive Hiring

                        Video: Benefits of Hiring Workers with Disabilities

                        MDOD Employment Information Resources

                       

Group poses with citation
 
Maryland business, Acadia Windows and Doors, LLC, received a Governor's Citation for advancing inclusive hiring practices in Maryland.