Happy Holidays to Supporters of The Arc Wisconsin!
It has been an exciting year for The Arc Wisconsin and you have made our success possible. Here are a few of our 2018 accomplishments:
We launched an educational webinar series supporting more than 500 people across Wisconsin to learn about financial planning, ABLE accounts, criminal justice issues, supported decision-making, and future planning.
We hosted discussions with more than 40 families and professionals on the important topic of supporting families with a loved one with intellectual and developmental disabilities and co-occuring mental health needs.
With a new Governor taking residence in Madison, 2019 will be an interesting year in Wisconsin
. Divided government means more room for bipartisanship and perhaps, progress on new issues important to people with disabilities and their families!
One key issue that disability advocates hope gets attention is the direct care workforce crisis. As a leader in the new Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance, The Arc Wisconsin has been heading up awareness efforts to educate policymakers and the public about families who carry the majority of caregiving responsibilities. (See photo from our recent Family Caregiver Month event in the state capitol.) In 2016, a statewide survey of more than 500 people who rely on direct care services and their families found that 85% did not have enough workers to cover all their shifts, and 60% said they get sick more often when they do not have enough staff. Families are the backbone of the caregiving industry in Wisconsin, providing an estimated 80% of all care.
2019 is also a budget year in the state legislature, which means opportunities to request new funding to increase wages of direct care workers, expand access to respite care, support development of a caregiver registry, and invest in training. The Arc Wisconsin will also be advocating for full funding of special education, expansion of new employment policies, and development of a transformation fund to help providers expand their community-based services options. Stay connected to The Arc Wisconsin for important budget updates and opportunities to advocate. Look for a state budget training happening near you!
Looking to the Future
One of our proudest accomplishments in 2018 has been growing awareness of future planning resources for families and people with I/DD. Our investment in training — with funding from UnitedHealthcare — resulted in twice the number of families receiving future planning supports than originally anticipated.
Since January 2018, The Arc Wisconsin’s new Future Planning Network has supported more than 123 caregivers and families to begin development of a future plan. The Arc Wisconsin’s network of planners have reached over 33 towns and cities. In November, we planned in Spanish with more than 24 families, along with our partners Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones (A.L.A.S.), and trained another 20 professionals with Parent University.
Challenges for Families Dealing with Dual Diagnosis
A national grant recently allowed The Arc Wisconsin to host discussions with families about the topic of living with both intellectual and developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health needs. In collaboration with the Waisman Center, Disability Rights Wisconsin,
and Parent University, The Arc Wisconsin heard from families about both challenges and proposed solutions that will inform research and policy changes in the future. Among the key challenges families identified were:
Lack of training for mental health and disability professionals on how to serve people with I/DD and co-occurring mental health challenges
High turnover in the mental health and disability fields
I/DD and mental health systems that are siloed, making it difficult for people to navigate
Lack of resources
Possible solutions families identified were:
Support for a Family Navigator position that can help families better understand and navigate the complex support system
Targeted investment to improve training for disability, mental health, and education professionals
Encourage opportunities and support organizations that bring together parents and families to develop resources to address common challenges
Look for a final report of this conversation to be published soon.
“The Arc Wisconsin values the voices of everyone and makes sure self-advocates are always at the table and not on the menu.”