Issue XI - March 15, 2023
Spring Issue
 Dear Members, Families, and Friends,

The spring equinox is around the corner! Today, we reflect on every extra second of daylight we get and the gratitude we have for the pause that winter provides. We use this time to reflect and recuperate as we prepare for the rejuvenating warmth of spring. There is much more to celebrate in the month of MarchMarch is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and March 20th marks the International Day of Happiness, which recognizes the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world! 

At STC, we care about your rights as a member of an inclusive and diverse society and we want to share with you important information regarding your rights. This month, we discuss your rights as a person with a disability to employment opportunities that are protected under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As always, we bring you a monthly member story, upcoming webinars, and a few items you may have missed.

We hope you find this newsletter insightful and informative.

Jess and Carey
Jessica Colon
Interim Executive Director 
Carey Peters
Interim Director of Care Management
& Compliance 
Member Spotlight
Above: Mike Rehbein in his workshop.
Ten years ago, the Rehbein family built a garage on their property and partitioned a section to house a woodworking shop for their son, Mike Rehbein. His passion for woodworking was realized when he attended BOCES in the mid-2000s. Today, Mike designs and builds birdhouses, napkin and phone holders, mug and wine racks, picnic tables, accessible furniture, and more! Almost everything that one sees in Mike's workshop was made or acquired by Mike, including the tools and tool kits. Through great innovation, Mike designed mobile workstations that can accommodate more than one tool: each workstation houses two tools that can be rotated so that while one tool is in use, the other is idle beneath. He was gifted a large tool chest from an uncle and additional pieces by his dad. To complete his workshop, Mike installed a unit to remove dust and a wood stove to keep the shop heated over winter. At 37 years old, Mike has become a woodworking expert, adding wood burning and staining to his trade.
Above: Mike in his workshop.
Employment Rights
Your right to employment and a job that is fulfilling to you is protected. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects this right.
Your right to a job is protected under ADA Title I: Equal Employment Opportunity for individuals with disabilities. As outlined by the ADA, "Title I is designed to create equal job opportunities and protect persons with a disability from job discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) enforce these rights and regulations under Title I."

As an employee, you must have the qualifications to perform the essential functions (work duties) outlined by your job, with or without reasonable accommodations. You may ask for or be provided with equipment, devices, an accommodated work schedule, and more to complete your job correctly. Your employer is required to provide these accommodations, and more, for you.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides a comprehensive and reader-friendly guide to your rights and protections covered by the U.S government, state, local civil rights commissions, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Click the link below to learn more!

Always remember that any questions you have can be directed to your care manager!
Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
Take action this Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to promote inclusion and employment equity by going #BeyondTheConversation with #DDAM2023! You can also wear your awareness by sporting the color orange on March 16th.

To go beyond the conversation means moving forward on conversations and planning and into action to create the change that we want to see in our community and in our workplace. People with developmental disabilities often face barriers when attempting to get involved in their community or in trying to access the job market and attain fulfilling employment.

At STC, our care managers work to create a more equitable place for people with developmental disabilities. We help YOU coordinate with prevocational habilitation and employment training such as building skills, a resume, and interview techniques. We coordinate services that include employment placement, so that you can find a workplace that meets your skills and needs. Ask you care manager today about prevocational and employment skill building today.

To learn more about DDAM and for resources to expand your knowledge this month, visit their website!
Health and Safety News
Ending the Public Health Emergency
and What It Means For You
For the last three years (almost to the day) we have been under a federal “Public Health Emergency”. This means that there have been certain allowances or flexibilities during this time. The Biden administration has stated that this Public Health Emergency will be ending in May 2023 and no further extensions will be given.

Some of the flexibilities that will end in May 2023 include:

  • Automatic Medicaid re-certifications 
  • Verbal approval for the Life Plan 
  • “Face to Face” meetings via phone calls (and video conferencing, but this may continue in some capacities – more to come!) 

Southern Tier Connect has already begun phasing out many of the allowances offered, so you shouldn’t see many differences in your services with your Care Manager, but we want to ensure you are aware of the changes that will be coming. 
What you should do NOW!

  • Call your local DSS Office (or your Care Manager who can do this for you) – and make sure you have a correct and updated address on file for Medicaid applications.
  • Sign up for Medicaid text alerts (Text START to 1-866-988-0327).

  • Call your care manager to talk about when and where you want your next meeting.
  • Be responsive!
  • Your Care Manager may be reaching out to you about these things and it’s important you get back to them and know how these changes may affect you personally.

  • Ask Questions!
  • If you aren’t sure how this could impact you or are feeling uneasy, we are here to help every step of the way. Call your Care Manager and ask questions to learn more. 
Benefits of Preventative Care
What is Preventative Healthcare?

Preventive healthcare is what you do (before you get sick) to stay healthy.

For children and adults, the easiest way to incorporate preventative care is to schedule an annual wellness visit with your primary care physician (PCP). However, as we age, there are additional wellness measures that men and women should also prioritize:

  • It is recommended that men and women begin having colorectal cancer screenings around the age of 45. A colonoscopy should be done every ten years or as recommended by your physician. *

  • In addition to annual PCP appointments and colonoscopies, it is recommended that women also have regular women’s preventative health care appointments.

  • By the age of 21 or younger, if sexually active, women should have an established OB/GYN provider for annual gynecological exams.

  • Beginning around age 50, women should also begin having mammograms every two years (or as recommended by their doctor) to screen for breast cancer. *

*Recommended age and frequency are for adults in good overall health with no predetermined or increased risk for related cancers or diseases. Each person should follow the recommendations of their medical providers.
Let your care manager know if you need help finding a provider or scheduling an appointment!

Understanding and practicing preventive care is vital to living a healthy life! If you need help finding a provider or scheduling an appointment, or if you would like assistance in understanding your health and healthcare services, please reach out to your care manager. We’re here to help!
Member and Family Support
Understanding Family Support Services
At Racker, our Family Support Services (FSS) programs have continued to support families in New York as they navigate services and funding options through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, also known as OPWDD. FSS programs vary across the state depending on each community’s needs and available services. Depending on the program type, individuals with OPWDD eligibility who live at home with their family or caregiver are typically eligible for FSS. Racker offers several such programs, including family reimbursement, lending libraries, sensory spaces, an advocacy program, educational resources, networking opportunities for parents and self-advocates, and behavioral support. 
With Racker, eligible families can access FSS funding to help pay for respite, camps, goods and services, and more. In 2022, the FSS Reimbursement programs across New York state learned to navigate the new requirements outlined by OPWDD in their latest FSS administrative directive memorandum, or ADM. The guidelines in the ADM changed the overall fabric of FSS and created unexpected challenges for families to secure funding support. Racker’s top priority during this time was to ensure a smooth transition for families, with little to no disruption in their services wherever possible. The FSS staff at Racker reviewed the ADM, restructured their team, set up training, and formed a review committee to better support the community.  
The top priority at Racker is to help families access needed support and services. Family support programs continue to be a vital resource when other programs and services are unavailable. The FSS team welcomes families to inquire about FSS reimbursement programs by emailing Racker also invites all to check out the new libraries or apply to be a volunteer by contacting You may also visit their website at
Those interested in Racker’s Supporting Success Behavior Support program can contact their care manager for a referral or contact for more information.
Your RIGHTS in 10
At STC, we understand and advocate for your rights as a person with a disability or disabilities. We respect your right to be your own person and express your independence regardless of race, religion, national origin, age, sex, gender identity or expression, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or developmental or other disability. You have the same fundamental rights as anyone else. These rights include the right to employment, the right to privacy, the right to practice your religion or beliefs, the right to express yourself, and the right to choose the relationships you want to have.

This is why we created a new video series all about YOUR rights called Your Rights in 10, in which we highlight a different right in 10 minutes or less. Click the link below to access the latest videos in the Your Rights in 10 series.
We are looking for someone like you to share your voice for our Your Rights in 10 series. If you are interested in reading for an episode in this series, please emails us at:
Thank You for Your Feedback!
The results of our 2023 Member Satisfaction Survey are in!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2023 survey. Your feedback is important to us and helps us make adjustments to continue to provide the best services we possibly can. Read the results at the link below!
In Case You Missed It...
2023 Summer Camps Two-Part Webinar Series

We invited several summer camps to give mini-presentations on their programs, eligibility requirements, cost, and registration process in a special webinar so you can see which one is right for you!
Supporting Individuals with Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders, Webinar

This webinar is presented by Region 2 Crisis Services for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (CSIDD), YAI. CSIDD is a short-term rehabilitative service targeted for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) who have significant behavioral or mental health needs.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Connection e-newsletter. Did you know that you can now read all of our past newsletters archived on our website? Please be aware that we are currently updating our archive. Stay tuned for more!
Share your story for our next edition!

Do you have a story to share? A resource that could be beneficial to others?
Send an email to You can also tell your care manager you if would like to be featured in our next issue and have them set up a time for us to interview you. Tell us about your goals, your accomplishments, or just something fun you have been up to. Your stories are important to us!

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