In This Issue:

  • The Arc's Public Policy Work and Legislative Advocacy - Building a Better Future
  • Colorado Black History & Disability Rights - Honoring The Legacy of LaTonya Reeves
  • Laughter Is The Best Medicine - Join Us At Comedy Night With Josh Blue
  • Tell Congress: Update SSI Now
  • Free Webinar Series on Aging, Dementia, and Intellectual Disability
  • Finding and Keeping Good Support Staff In Self-Direction - Free Webinar
  • We Are Here to Help You During Case Managment Redesign
The Arc and Public Policy
The Arc-Jefferson Clear Creek & Gilpin Counties along with other Colorado chapters are deeply invested in The Arc Colorado’s public policy work and provide essential input on issues that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are especially focused on this important work during Colorado’s Legislative Session, which typically runs from the second week of January until mid-May.
Public policy is a set of actions the government decides to take when approaching a problem that affects society as a group. Public policy addresses problems over the long-term, and it can take years to develop. It is supposed to offer solutions to problems, such as issues with healthcare.
“The Arc is working on behalf of everyone in our community who has an IDD to ensure that legislation is inclusive and supportive of them and their families,” Lori Ropa, Executive Director of The Arc-JCCGC, explained. “We often recommend changes that will guarantee our community is served as well as others, point out unintended consequences of bills, and strengthen great bills with the support of lived experience.”
The Arc of Colorado spearheads the public policy efforts at the Capitol, but all chapters offer input to ensure that the full range of community needs and perspectives are considered. There are weekly meetings to discuss proposed bills and the position that The Arc will take on them including any amendments we’d like to offer, Lori said. Based on review and collective discussions, positions are posted on each bill. In addition, local chapters are asked to connect the state organization to individuals who can provide testimony regarding their relevant lived experience, and/or share stories of advocacy that was needed as a result of the issue being addressed.

Members of our community have helped shape public policy. Donna Gunnison, an experienced self-advocate and former member of The Arc-JCCGC’s Board of Directors, had the opportunity to positively impact public policy by providing testimony in March 2023 to a House Committee to help correct an error that was discovered in the Prader-Willi Bill. Read about Donna’s experience, by clicking here and here.

Currently, we midway through the legislative session. The Arc of Colorado is tracking bills that support policies involving education, guardianship, housing, mental health, transportation, and more. Here are links to a few of the bills:


Legislative Advocacy
Do you want to make your voice heard and raise awareness about issues that matter to you? You can - by calling or emailing your legislators! Let them know what is important to you, what you think the impact of a specific bill will have if it becomes a law, and what you would like to see improved for people with IDD. When contacting legislators, it is helpful to keep the communication brief and include the number of the bill (if you are calling or writing about a bill).
Getting involved in public policy is a meaningful way to contribute to your community and advocate for positive change. You can review the bills The Arc is tracking, provide feedback or testimony, and contact your legislators. Interested?:
Two part image left side with woman in red looking aside right side with text Latonya Reeves Freedom Act and wheelchair silhouette with raised arms.

Colorado Black History - Honoring The Legacy of Disability Advocate LaTonya Reeves

Black History Month honors the achievements and contributions of all Black people throughout U.S. history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa in the early 17th century to African Americans living in the United States today, including those who have disabilities.
According to a proclamation from the White House, “This Black History Month, we celebrate the vast contributions of Black Americans to our country and recognize that Black history is American history and that Black culture, stories, and triumphs are at the core of who we are as a Nation.” To read the entire proclamation, click here.

Locally, LaTonya Reeves was an advocate for Community Based Services. Her contributions made a lasting positive impact. Ms. Reeves was appointed to the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council (CDDC) by Governor Jared Polis. According to Disability Social History Project, in the letter to the Governor that accompanied her application for Council membership, Ms. Reeves explained:

I am a 59-year-old resident of Denver … Making sure that people with disabilities do not live in nursing homes or institutions is very important to me. I have lived in an institution and a nursing home in the past because Tennessee did not offer the supports and services I needed. That is why I came to Colorado.
Soon after being appointed to the Council, Ms. Reeves died on January 9, 2023, after a short illness.
“You could not miss the passion in the voice of LaTonya Reeves when she discussed freedom," according to a statement from CDDC. “She understood that ensuring access to Home and Community-Based Services for all eligible people who need them, without discrimination, is essential to achieving freedom for people with developmental and other disabilities. Ms. Reeves recently told us":

I like it when I help someone get out of a nursing home.
She was the namesake for H.R. 6860, The LaTonya Reeves Freedom Act, a bill that prohibits government entities and insurance providers from denying community-based services to individuals with disabilities that require long-term service or support that would enable such individuals to live in the community and lead an independent life, according to
Interested in knowing more about LaTonya Reeves’ powerful legacy?
  • Learn about the LaTonya Reeves Freedom Act by clicking here.
  • Review the full bill text: click here.
  • See a one-pager for the bill by clicking here.
  • Check out Escaping The Nursing Home published in New Mobility in May 2008, she discussed meeting Wade Blank, a disabilities activist, and coming to Denver to build a new life. To read the article, click here.
  • Read Ms. Reeves profile in The Disability Social History Project by clicking here.
Black and white image with logo The Arc and smiling girl with long hair on the right.

Tell Congress: Support The SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act Now

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides critical support for millions of people with disabilities to help afford the basics of everyday life, like food and rent.

But SSI has many rules that make it hard for people to save money and get out of poverty. SSI has an asset limit that has not been updated since 1989! Assets include cash, money in bank accounts, most retirement accounts, and other financial resources. Right now, people who get SSI can only have $2,000 in assets. Married couples can only have $3,000.
These limits mean that people cannot save money, and they force people with disabilities into poverty.
To review The Arc’s SSI Plain Language Fact Sheet, click here.
TAKE ACTION: Urge your members of Congress to support people with disabilities by co-sponsoring the bipartisan SSI Savings Penalty Elimination Act. Interested? Click here.
Man with a beard looking upwards with visible curiosity or surprise.

Laughter is The Best Medicine

You'll See Why at Comedy Night with Josh Blue.

Critics have said Josh is not a cerebral palsy comic; he’s a comic who happens to have cerebral palsy. He has funny stories that spread laughter and break down stereotypes of people with disabilities. Josh’s stand-up routine contains adult content and language that also uses his disability.

Josh is no stranger to our chapter – he performed at our 2022 Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month event. Check out Talking About Abilities with Josh Blue – featuring Josh’s interview with Brent Belisle, our Consulting Advocate & Community Engagement Specialist, by clicking here.

After the comedy show, Lori Ropa, our chapter’s Executive Director, will facilitate a brief discussion with Josh about his life and career, public perceptions of people with disabilities, and how to make our world more inclusive. Audience members will be given the opportunity to ask questions.

Comedy Night with Josh Blue is part of The Arc-JCCGC's Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month campaign this March.

What: Comedy Night with Josh Blue
The content of this show is "adult-friendly"
When: March 8 at 7 p.m. (doors at 6:30)
Where: Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood

  • Ticket Price: $59.00
  • Meet & Greet Package: $119.00 - includes a ticket for the comedy show followed by a reception with Josh. Light food and drinks included.
  • Self-Advocate Discounted Ticket: A limited number of $19 tickets are available for self-advocates. These tickets must be coordinated through The Arc.

Want tickets for a self-advocate, or have questions about show content?
Contact Veronica Wernsman at The Arc: [email protected] or (303) 232-1338.
Free Webinar Series on Aging, Dementia, and Intellectual Disability

The National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices is hosting an informative webinar series about aging, dementia, and intellectual disability, which will explore issues of interest for families and caregivers of adults with an intellectual disability.

What: Aging, Dementia, and Intellectual Disability, five-part series.

When: 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Mountain Time February 27, March 12, 26, April 9 and 23.

Sessions are free, but you must register by clicking here.

For more information, contact [email protected].
Finding and Keeping Good Support Staff in Self-Direction Free Webinar

Finding support staff can be hard when you direct your own services and/or personal supports.
The Alliance for Citizen-Directed Supports is teaming up with Applied Self-Direction to present a free webinar: Finding and Keeping Good Support Staff in Self-Direction.
Real stories and advice on how to recruit and keep support staff will be discussed. Opportunities to learn from one another’s experiences and ideas for finding and retaining staff will be shared. This interactive session is for:

  • People who direct their own services and/or supports
  • Family and friends who help manage services and/or supports
  • Support Coordinators/Service Coordinators/Case Managers
  • Supports Brokers

What: Finding and Keeping Good Support Staff in Self-Direction free webinar
When: Tuesday, February 27 from 12 - 1 p.m. Mountain Time

Questions?: [email protected]

To register, click here
Two women engaged in a conversation one holding documents wearing glasses.
We Are Here To Help You During Case Management Redesign

The Arc-JCCGC is a resource for you and your family through the Case Management Redesign changes. We know the process has not been easy for everyone. Do you have experiences, concerns, challenges, or success stories you want to tell us about? Connect with us by email: [email protected] with the subject line “Case Management Redesign.”