In This Issue:

  • Alternatives to Guardianship
  • National Wellness Month
  • Voting Rights in Colorado
  • Housing Position Paper: The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council
  • The Arc@School's Special Education Advocacy Curriculum
Alternatives to Guardianship

“The most effective way to protect someone with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities from exploitation isn’t by simply obtaining guardianship, rather it’s empowering an individual and providing a person with opportunities to SPEAK up (or communicate – if someone doesn’t use verbalization) for their preferences. Guardianship might be a part of that – but encouraging someone to say NO when they mean NO is the best defense against exploitation, abuse, and mistreatment.”

The above quote - and many other facts about alternatives to guardianship - was presented by The Arc-JCCGC’s Ashly Ulrich, to an audience of special education teachers who deliver student-centered transition services in Jefferson County.

“Ashly took a huge amount of information and simplified it with great examples. She welcomed questions and made us feel comfortable. Most importantly, she kept it from being overwhelming," according to Pete, an attendee of the August 11 training at Rose Stein Cottages, a JTS satellite classroom in Lakewood.

Ashly said, “I feel the most important thing to note is that there is a myth in the IDD community that parents must obtain full legal guardianship of their adult children when they turn 18 to support them in adulthood. This is just not true. There are many alternatives to guardianship that offer the same supports, without having to legally strip someone of their ability to make decisions about their life.”

Many other options to guardianship are free and be implemented almost immediately. These alternatives can be used individually or in a combination that best suits a person’s individual support needs.

Regarding alternatives to guardianship, presentation attendee Dunbar shared, “Ashly was very knowledgeable on guardianship as well as the focus of really looking for alternatives instead of going straight to guardianship and with a person-centered approach - which is great to hear. I also enjoyed her realistic approach to the topics as well as how passionate she is on working with people she serves.”

This Alternatives to Guardianship presentation was our Child & Family Advocacy Team’s first training in a group setting since COVID began. Plans are being made to have a training session about Alternatives to Guardianship for parents and families, in addition to other in-person and virtual trainings.

The Arc – JCCGC can help families advocate for using an alternative, or combination of different choices to guardianship if they ever encounter a professional who isn’t familiar with the practice or doesn’t understand how it’s used.

Supported decision-making is one of the alternatives to full guardianship that was discussed and is a tool that can be used in place of or in addition to a guardianship alone or in combination with other alternatives. Information from The Arc of Colorado about supported decision making is available by clicking here.

To connect with The Arc – JCCGC and discuss alternatives to guardianship more in depth, fill out an online advocacy request by clicking here.
Five Facts About Alternatives to Guardianship:

1. One of the Alternatives to Guardianship that was discussed in depth - Supported Decision Making (SDM) - is a practice many people already engage in to make decisions in their daily lives – regardless of if they have IDD or not. Examples: Have you ever asked a friend for advice before deciding something BIG? Have you ever read a consumer report or evaluated product reviews from other buyers before making a big purchase?

2. Colorado legislature passed Senate Bill 21-075 in 2021 that codified the practice of SDM as a way that people with IDD could receive support from people in their lives who know them best.

3. Full legal guardianship can be extremely limiting and is difficult to terminate later if someone doesn’t need or want legal guardianship. (Think Britney Spears terminating her conservatorship – even with all her resources and publicity it was a YEARS long battle to regain her civil rights!)

4. There is no requirement for guardianship to be obtained right at the age of 18, so it’s a great idea to explore alternatives first to avoid an unnecessary or inappropriate guardianship.

5. We at The Arc-JCCGC are not lawyers and do not provider legal advice – however we can confidently say that guardianship can be pursued without the assistance (and cost) of an attorney in most cases where guardianship is not contested – and we can support families understand that court process if guardianship is the most appropriate support for a person.
National Wellness Month is commemorated every August.

According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. People can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, but it does take time and practice. Following are some ways to think and behave in a more positive and optimistic way:

Identify areas to change. If you want to become more optimistic and engage in more positive thinking, first identify areas of your life that you usually think negatively about, whether it's work, your daily commute, life changes or a relationship.

Check yourself. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking. If you find that your thoughts are mainly negative, try to find a way to put a positive spin on them.

Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.

Follow a healthy lifestyle. Aim to exercise for about 30 minutes on most days of the week. You can also break it up into 5- or 10-minute chunks of time during the day. Exercise can positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. Get enough sleep. And learn techniques to manage stress.

Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Think about things you're thankful for in your life.
Voting Rights in Colorado
 
Everyone’s voice should be represented in elections. Voting is among the actions an individual can take to self-advocate because people who do not vote essentially allow others to make decisions for them.

According to The Arc of Colorado:

  • A 17-year-old can vote in a primary election if they are 18 by the general election
  • A 16-year-old can pre-register to vote
  • Guardianship does not remove the right to vote
  • Photo ID is not required
  • People are allowed to vote online if they have a disability and require online voting to access their ballot
  • Every Voting Service and Polling Center must be ADA accessible
  • Early voting is available to everyone
  • Mail Ballot Voting is available to everyone who is registered to vote
  • Mail Ballot Drop Boxes are available for dropping your mail ballot without postage
  • People have the right to vote privately and independently.
  • Individuals have the right to assistance when casting their ballot

Accessible voting information from the Colorado Secretary of State is available by clicking here.

To check your voter status or to register to vote, click here.

Make sure your voice is heard. Vote!
Housing Position Paper from The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council

Every Coloradan needs a place to live. But unfortunately, finding affordable housing is increasingly challenging for many Centennial State residents. For example, in February 2021, 32% of Coloradans with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families who responded to a Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council (CDDC) survey indicated that their most important unmet need now - and in the next five to 10 years - is securing affordable, accessible housing, according to information provided by Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council Director Joelle Brouner, MPA.

Based on this community input, the CDDC is prioritizing education, advocacy, policy, and systems change to increase access for Coloradans with intellectual and developmental disabilities to integrated housing within the community at large.  

For many with and without disabilities, home ownership is out of reach, Brouner added. In addition, housing demand is outpacing production. Given these market dynamics and other factors such as labor shortages among direct support professionals, it's no wonder that people are looking for creative, sustainable housing solutions. 

The Council recently released a position paper exploring the policy solutions and systems changes favored by CDDC members interested in empowering our constituency to live in the community at large.

To read the Council’s position paper on housing, click here.
The Arc@School's Special Education
Advocacy Curriculum

Do you think that the special education process is confusing?

Determining and implementing the services a student with disabilities needs at school can be overwhelming. Whether you are a parent, educator, service provider, or non-attorney advocate, The Arc is here to help!

The Arc@School’s Special Education Advocacy Curriculum provides the basic information needed to navigate the special education system, including early intervention services, individualized education programs (IEPs), Section 504, and more.

Families, educators, and other non-attorney advocates may review this information to help start the new school year with more knowledge of the special education basics through access to this self-paced, online program.

The Arc@School’s Special Education Advocacy Curriculum can be purchased at a discount price - just $75 - by using code SUMMERSAVE at checkout through August 31.

For more information about this online program click here.

To purchase the curriculum click here.
Thank You to Our 2022 Summit of Hope Sponsors!

Interested in learning more about this year's Summit of Hope sponsorship opportunities? Contact laura@arcjc.org.

More information about participating in Summit of Hope will follow in the upcoming weeks!