November/December 2021
CRAAG Newsletter
In This Issue!

  • Upcoming November and December Meeting Times
  • Notes from the October 27, 2021 CRAAG Meeting - Deeds Meeting Update and more
  • CA Human Services' 20th Annual Autism Conference - March 2022
  • Connect, Engage, Learn, Change
  • Most Read Article in August-September 2021 Newsletter
  • Spotlight on Housing, Supports and Service Needs - CRAAG supporters' letter to Governor Northam
November and December 2021
Virtual Meeting Dates
Work Groups

24/7 Supports Work Group
Date TBD

Maximizing Independence Work Group
Wednesday, November 17th from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Preparing for Life After High School Work Group
Thursday, November 18th
from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Join a Work Group to receive the Zoom meeting link!

Hope you will attend one of the
Work Groups this month!
CRAAG Meeting

Wednesday, December 8th from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Zoom link will be published one week in advance of meeting!

The Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on the DD population is forging new alliances among Virginia's DD advocates. We've begun to work with new partners on a common legislative agenda for supports for people with DD. We're stronger together!

At this meeting, we'll look back on 2021 and look forward to 2022.
Notes from the
October 27th CRAAG Meeting
Many thanks to the 24 family members, 8 professionals who attended the morning Zoom meeting. The following organizations were represented: CA Human Services, Faison Center, Region Ten CSB, and UVA STAR.
The meeting Agenda
  1. Review of the discussion with Senator Creigh Deeds (VA-25th District) on October 5th
  2. Work Group reports
  3. Announcement of next meeting date/time

Review of October 5th Conversation with Senator Creigh Deeds
Senator Creigh Deeds wanted to hear from CRAAG families to learn about the needs of adults with autism. CRAAG hosted a meeting on October 5th for the Senator. The meeting began with Bob Kreps, CRAAG Chairperson, introducing the issues that most concern CRAAG now. He was followed by Heather Norton, DBHDS Assistant Commissioner. Region Ten's Lisa Beitz and Heather Hines, Executive Director and Senior Director of Adult Developmental Services respectively, spoke next. Senator Deeds was a good listener and very engaged throughout all aspects of the discussion. Senator Deeds' time was very much appreciated by all. 
CA Human Service's
20th Annual Autism Conference
March 9-10, 2022

Early Bird Pricing - Save Up to $50
By Buying Before December 30th!

When: March 9th and 10th
Where: The Westin Richmond

Early Bird tickets are available for either in-person or virtual attendance. Registrants are able to attend both days of the conference, or purchase tickets to attend for a single day. Click here to learn about the conference, sponsorships and more.
Connect Engage
Learn & Change
Read through to the end of the article to find
important calendar events and information!

Partner Updates A - Z

THE ARC OF Virginia is holding a Virtual Rally to Prepare for Virginia’s January General Assembly (GA). Register here to attend on Tuesday, November 16th at 6:30.The Arc of Virginia is part of the largest and most effective advocacy team working on behalf of people with DD in the U.S. If you haven’t signed up for their Action Alerts for Virginia, please do it now, by clicking here. To keep tabs on what is happening across the U.S., click here to sign up for newsletters, free resources, events, advocacy and more.

CA HUMAN SERVICES is holding its annual Autism Conference in March 2022. Check out the ad for Early Bird pricing in this newsletter. In a recent Facebook post, CA wrote about their Transition Services for teens and adults, “Independence is Empowerment.” Read more here. CA is holding a webinar “Preparing for Transition as a Family.” Read more here.

Most Read Article in
August - September 2021 CRAAG Newsletter
It shouldn't be a surprise that the most read article in the August-September CRAAG newsletter was the 2021 Housing Report. This report is one of the most important steps that CRAAG has taken since its founding. Published in September, this report initiated a multi-year effort to expand the number of housing options, supports and services available to meet the needs of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. If you wish to get involved in solving the housing conundrum with other CRAAG families, click here to join one of the Work Groups.
Spotlight on
Housing, Supports
and Service Needs
This month we are spotlighting a letter sent to Governor Ralph Northam in the final months of his administration. The writers, supporters of CRAAG from Crozet, Virginia, are the parents of an adult son with an intellectual and developmental disability. With their permission, we are reprinting their letter to the Governor. Many thanks to the Noakes for being such great advocates for families of loved ones with a developmental disability throughout Virginia.

November 7, 2021

Governor Ralph Northam
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218

Dear Governor Northam,

Thank you for your service to our state and our communities. We appreciate the recent participation of Mrs. Northam at the opening of the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) where she gave a well received talk. We personally were pleased at the time she spent talking with my wife about our situation and our son's involvement with VIA.

In addition to celebrating the opening of the new building for autistic adolescents and adults, there was much discussion of the accelerating crisis in Virginia's ability to care for intellectually disabled adults. Many professionals feel that the system is on the verge of collapse.

There are many aspects to this crisis, some more tractable than others. An immediately addressable issue is the state-determined pay differential between Direct Service Providers in Northern Virginia (NOVA) and the rest of the State (ROS). Areas such as Charlottesville, Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Blacksburg have as high a cost of living as NOVA, but are unable to recruit and retain qualified ID care workers at the pay scale available. As a result, no new group homes are opening and day support centers are closing due to the inability to retain or hire new staff.

In the time you have left as Governor, please do what you can to change the NOVA vs ROS problem and institute a sensible system in which provider pay reflects the cost of living in the community where service is being provided.

Again, thank you for your service and best wishes in your future endeavors.

Harold and Linda Noakes
Crozet, Virginia

CRAAG began in 2010 in collaboration with CA Human Services (formerly Commonwealth Autism). CRAAG’s mission is to raise awareness and enhance the quality of life for people with autism, developmental disabilities, and their families in Charlottesville City, Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson counties. We are a volunteer action group for families, self-advocates, and professionals who are interested in all age groups and levels of need. The daily concerns of CRAAG's active volunteers inform our focus on the needs of students transitioning out of high school, adults throughout the lifespan, and their families. Our advocacy is person-centered aimed at maximizing independent living with supports; meaningful employment; social connectivity; and community engagement. CRAAG's 2021 Housing survey initiated a years-long initiative in our region to expand the number of housing options, supports and services available to meet the needs of adults with developmental disabilities.