The Governor's Office of Disability Affairs Newsletter

April/May 2019
2nd Annual Governor's Office of Disability Affairs Conference Announcement
The Governor's Office of Disability Affairs (GODA) will host its 2nd Annual Conference on July 26, 2019 at the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge, LA. The Conference will be held on the 29th Anniversary of the signing of the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

The GODA Conference will feature a Keynote Presentation from Kristi Avalos, the founder and CEO of Accessology and national expert in accessibility, the ADA, and national disability related issues. The GODA Conference will also include a variety of sessions on disability-related topics.

The registration and itinerary for the GODA Conference will be available soon. For more information please email GODA by clicking here .
Autism Awareness Month 2019 Recap
To commemorate the month of April 2019 as Autism Awareness Month in Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards and Governor's Office of Disability Affairs participated in several events and programs that promoted the increased awareness and understanding of individuals living with autism.

Governor John Bel Edwards issued more than ten proclamations to organizations statewide. On Worldwide Autism Awareness Day, the Governor's Mansion joined iconic buildings around the world in recognition of people living with autism.

Below are a few pictures of Autism Awareness Month in Louisiana.
EFSLMP Core Team Will Host Regional Employment Capacity Building Sessions in
Regions 3 & 4
The Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP) of Louisiana will host two regional capacity building sessions to further its objective of providing increased community-based, integrated employment opportunistic for individuals with disabilities.

Through the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs, Louisiana has received an Employment First Technical Assistance Grant from the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy . One component of the grant is Capacity Building with two regions of the state and is aligned with the recommendation in our Employment First Report on page 19-20.  One of the main criteria for selection of a region is the current level of cross-agency collaboration within the region. Since this is a limited TA grant, the selected two regions have already established cross agency collaboration and the goal is that the regions further develop collaboration in order to sustain and provide model practices for other regions of our state as well as other states The regions are a combination of LA Department of Health and LA Workforce Commission regions. 
The capacity building session in Region 3 which is comprised of Assumption, Lafourche, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Mary, and Terrebonne Parishes will take place on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at the Terrebonne Parish Library located at: 4130 West Park Ave, Gray, Louisiana 70359.

The capacity building session in Region 4 which is comprised of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion parishes will take place on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at the Acadiana Area Human Services District located at: 302 Dulles Drive, Lafayette, Louisiana 70506
If you're interested in joining the collaboration, please complete this very short survey:  Employment First Regional Collaboration Membership . Membership is open to anyone interested in participating.   
The collaborative regional teams should include but not limited to the following:
·      Individuals and Families (including those with mental health diagnoses)
·      Service Providers
·      Business, Industry, and Labor
·      Education
·      Regional, Parish, and Local Government Offices
The State As a Model Employer (SAME) initiative will be intertwined with the work of the regional collaboration. Here is the link to the SAME Report
EMDAC Access and Functional Needs Tabletop Exercise
The Emergency Management Disability and Aging Coalition (EMDAC) will host a tabletop exercise on May 16, 2019 at 4655 Sherwood Common Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA. The purpose of this tabletop exercise is to identify gaps in preparedness, response, and recovery activities for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, and to develop a strategy to address the aforementioned gaps.

This tabletop exercise is open to the public and everyone is encouraged to attend. Public feedback is very important to EMDAC and will enable the coalition to better serve individuals with disabilities during times of emergencies and natural disasters.

For more information or to RSVP please reply here .
Mental Health Awareness Month
Governor John Bel Edwards has proclaimed the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month in the State of Louisiana. Education and awareness are important tools to removing stigma and barriers often associated with mental health concerns. Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportunity learn about the importance of mental health services and to discuss ways to advocate for increased support for individuals living with mental health illnesses.
Disability Services Day at the Capitol
The Arc of Louisiana in partnership with the People First of Louisiana hosted the Disability Services Day on May 1, 2019 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Louisiana State Capitol.

Participants of Disability Services Day at the Capitol met with legislators to discuss the importance passing legislation to ensure individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to live full and independent lives.

In addition, Senate Concurrent Resolution 24 (SCR 24) was read on the senate floor that same afternoon of May 1st. SCR 24 which expressed condolences for the passing of Duane Ebarb, a long time advocate and People First of Louisiana member.

For more information please click here .
LaCAN Yellow Shirt Days at the Capitol 2019
The Louisiana Council's Advocacy Network (LaCAN) coordinates Yellow Shirt Days at the Louisiana State Capitol throughout the legislative session.

LaCAN's mission is to advocate for policies and systems that support inclusion everywhere people learn, work, live, and play. During the legislative session, LaCAN members attend legislative committee meetings when critical decisions are being made. Members of LaCAN also meet with legislators to inform them of the possible effects of their bills on individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

For more information about LaCAN's yellow shirt days please click here .
Northshore Families Helping Families Names New Executive Director
In March, Kathy Dillion was named as the new Executive Director of Northshore Families Helping Families.

Kathy is an experienced Parent Educator, Parent Advocate for individuals with disabilities, and has worked in St. Tammany and Jefferson Parishes as a substitute teacher in Special Education self-contained classes.

As a mother of son with Down Syndrome, Kathy has always advocated for inclusion in every aspect of his life, and the lives of of individuals with disabilities.

Kathy looks forward to serving families and individuals with disabilities in the Northshore area. For more about Kathy and Northshore Families Helping Families please click here .
Northshore Families Helping Families to Host Summer Series of Webinars
The Northshore Families Helping Families Education Liaison, Gaynelle Franklin, will facilitate a series of webinars created to help parents and caregivers have a better understanding of the special education system.

These webinars will take place throughout the month of June and will cover topics relative to the basic rights under the IDEA, the IEP process, ACT 833, discipline of students with special needs, and more.

For more information of to register for the webinars please call (985) 875-0511 or click here.
6th Annual Miss Bayou Voice for Autism Pageant
The 6th Annual Miss Bayou Voice for Autism Pageant will take place on May 18, 2019 at 911 Marguerite Street, Morgan City, LA 70380. .

For more information about the pageant please call Crystal Carmichael at (985) 856-7379 or send an email by clicking here .
EarlySteps Region 1/10 Update
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas invited EarlySteps Region 1/10 to participate in this year’s Annual Autism Awareness Fest on Sunday, April 7, 2019 from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. We provided resources and literature to assist the children and families who attended “Sensory Sunday.” 

Audubon welcomed guest who benefitted from a calmer environment and hands-on sensory activities before the site opened to the general public. Each Sensory Sunday focuses on a different theme, so children/families can have a unique experience each time. Another exemplary aspect is that there is no fee to these children/families for this rain or shine event.

CDC’s Autism and Development Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network reports that each year, 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).”  We provided EarlySteps, early intervention informational services and additional ABA therapy resources for children ages 0 to 3 years (the populations we serve) and beyond.  We were able to share information with 100 families that visited with us at the EarlySteps booth during the event. 

The children and families were excited to have an Autism specific event and to receive information and giveaways as they browsed. Their enjoyment was evident as they experienced the splendor of the colorful Aquarium, touching the variety of fish and Penguins, shellfish, and the tornado/hurricane simulator. 
Audubon welcomes guests who benefit from accommodations such as calmer environments and hands-on sensory activities to attend before we are open to the public. Each Sensory Sunday focuses on a different theme, so families can attend multiple events throughout the year and enjoy a unique experience each time.

For families interested in attending upcoming 2019 Sensory Sunday Events:

For more information and accommodation requests, call the Sensory Sunday hotline at (504) 212-5286 or email [email protected] .

  • There is no fee for these rain or shine events
  • The registration is limited to 250 total participants.
  • (Please register no more than 8 (eight) participants per party)

Registration for upcoming events opens up on the Monday following an event
For cancellation of a registration, please email: [email protected]

GOLD Award Recipient
Hanna LaCour to attend ULL
Hannah LaCour, the recipient of the 2018 Governor's Outstanding Leadership in Disabilities (GOLD) Youth of the Year Award, received a letter of acceptance into the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL). Hannah, a senior from Saint Michael Special School in New Orleans, will be enrolled as a freshman in the ULL LIFE Program.