What’s going on in your community and how is The Arc Alliance working for you? Those are great questions! This section is dedicated to tracking news and views regarding The Arc Alliance and various issues concerning our loved ones, family and community.
In the news
July 1, 2016 – Pennsylvania Budget – Dismayed…to Angered…to Outraged!
The Arc of Pennsylvania outraged at 2016-2017 budget
The Arc of Pennsylvania is outraged that the General Assembly passed a budget that further deteriorates the community support system for Pennsylvanians with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Following on the heels of the prolonged budget impasse that left the disability system reeling financially, the 2016-2017 budget phenomenally fails to address serious issues that threaten to throw Pennsylvanians with disabilities back into segregated institutions.
The Arc of Pennsylvania and its chapters have met with hundreds of legislators and the Governor to explain what is happening to the disability supports system in Pennsylvania, but in light of the expected final 2016-2017 state budget it appears that the urgency of these issues has been lost on our elected officials and bears repeating: Pennsylvanians with intellectual and developmental disabilities are suffering, not because of their disabilities but because our state is choosing to not make the investments and changes needed to support these citizens.
Families in Pennsylvania dread the 21st birthday of their children who have an intellectual or developmental disability, because that is when vital community support services come to a complete halt. A select few families who have the means and resources to continually advocate are able to secure services that let their young adult live and work in the community; the other unlucky Pennsylvanians are put onto the disability waiting list to wait years for the services they need.
Some parents have to quit or lessen their work, decreasing their family income to care for their child while waiting for services; this puts Pennsylvania families at risk for needing cash assistance and food stamps as well as experiencing housing instability.
Other families have been able to support their loved one who has a disability at home for years and come to a crisis point because of a parent’s illness or because a parent simply becomes too old to care for their adult child at home. Pennsylvania has nearly 5,000 citizens on the emergency waiting list for disability services because of situations like this.
Pennsylvania families have, over the decades, saved the state billions of dollars by refusing to put their loved ones in costly state-run institutions. On average it is at least twice as expensive to support a Pennsylvanian with a disability in an institution instead of at home, in their community.
Maureen Cronin, Executive Director of The Arc of Pennsylvania says, “Families actually do have the right to place their loved on in a state institution and force the state to pay for the necessary services – if the families on just the emergency part of the disability services waiting list did this, it would cost the state well over a $1 billion. But by and large, Pennsylvanians with disabilities do not want to live in segregated settings nor is that what their families want. Instead, they are asking for the resources to keep loved ones living, working, and learning in their communities – and Pennsylvania is not responding.”
The tragic reality in Pennsylvania comes down to this: families are clamoring and competing in a downward spiral of being “in-crisis” enough to convince the state that they need disability support services, and the few Pennsylvanians with disabilities that make it into the support system face constant obstacles to actually receiving supports. Direct support staff are the individuals who provide the day-to-day services that let Pennsylvanians live in the community – from job transportation, to self-care, to support with managing finances – and the low wages they are paid lead to on average 40% turnover in these positions. Families who are lucky enough to finally receive funding from the state are constantly scrambling to secure the support they can now pay for, but cannot find quality personnel to provide.
The reason for these substantial problems is that intellectual and developmental disability services have been underfunded in Pennsylvania for the past 20 years. When compared to managed care organizations, nursing homes, and even the state general fund, disability services receive between 70% – 120% less in funding increases each year. The Arc of Pennsylvania is unclear whether this is due to our legislators and policy makers failing to understand the importance of these community support services or an underlying belief that people with disabilities are not as important as other Pennsylvanians. No other waiting list for services in the Department of Human Services even approaches the breadth and magnitude of the intellectual and developmental disability services waiting list – not child care subsidies, not aging supports, not supports for physical disabilities.
When Governor Wolf released his waiting list funding proposal back in February, The Arc of Pennsylvania was dismayed; when the House further cut this number, The Arc of Pennsylvania was angered; and now that the Senate and House passed a budget that did not even ameliorate this cut, The Arc of Pennsylvania is outraged. The final amount of funding given to take people off the emergency waiting list in the 2016-2017 budget will most likely merely be enough to support the individuals who were taken of the waiting list last year, because these individuals were only taken off the waiting list in the last two months of the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The cost to carry over their care will take up most of the waiting list funding in the 2016-2017 budget. It is an excellent metaphor for how Pennsylvania approaches disability support services – the state celebrates while in reality Pennsylvania is constantly behind on its expressed commitment to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Pennsylvanians deserve better. The families in these crisis situations are often invisible because they are too busy trying to survive. The Arc of Pennsylvania exists to make sure these families are not forgotten, ignored, or forced to segregate their loved one away from the community. As Pennsylvania celebrates having a nearly on-time budget, The Arc of Pennsylvania will continue to argue that this is not enough – Pennsylvania needs a budget that supports our most vulnerable citizens.
Editor’s Note: The Arc of Pennsylvania is a title or a phrase; it is not an acronym or abbreviation for anything else. Always refer to us as The Arc of Pennsylvania or The Arc of PA, never Arc, ARC, or The ARC.
April 3, 2016 Disabilities Awareness Walk – Sponsored by Rep. Thomas Murt
On a chilly but sunny day several hundred individuals joined Representative Thomas Murt on an awareness walk highlighting intellectual and developmental disabilities. Rep. Murt is a devoted advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities within the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. From coordinating awareness events like this walk in Horsham, to advocating and increasing funds devoted to reducing the I/DD and Autism Waiting list for individual services Rep. Murt champions the issues and concerns facing individuals and families in our community. The Arc Alliance commends and thanks Rep. Murt for all his work and support.
Scott Camilleri, Executive Director of The Arc Alliance Foundation was provided the opportunity to address the assembled group of walk participants prior to the event. “This was a great time for the hundreds of individuals and family members to assemble and show support for both Rep. Murt as well as to raise awareness of the issues individuals with disabilities face. The community was supportive as many people applauded, waved or honked thier horns as they drove pass the walkers. A special word of thanks to Rep. Murt as well as the many police and fireman and women who volunteered to aid in crossing streets safely.”
Paul Stengle the CEO of The Arc Alliance is quoted in the two articles below.
Help Students with Disabilities to Meet State Education Standards – Call Your Senators Today!
The Senate is scheduled to begin debate the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) on July 7. While the bill includes important provisions that support students with disabilities, it still does not include two critical requirements: 1) school intervention when groups of students (including students with disabilities) are not meeting state standards; and 2) full certification for teachers.
Presently, the ECAA only requires intervention and support for schools that fail to meet state performance standards overall, rather than for schools where any subgroups of students (including those with disabilities) fail to meet those standards. Language must be included that assures targeted instruction and other supports when student groups in any school do not meet reading, math or graduation goals.
The current version of the ECAA eliminated the “highly qualified” provision for teachers, requiring only that they be state certified. States have multiple levels of certification, some of which do not reflect full preparation or full qualification, such as temporary or provisional certification.
What To Say:
- I am a member of The Arc Alliance.
- I am calling to ask Senator _________ to support the amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act on student group accountability.
- We must ensure that student groups that are not meeting state-set academic and graduation goals for two years or more are provided targeted intervention and instructional support.
- I am also calling to ask that a requirement be added for teachers to be “fully” certified. Students with disabilities are disproportionately taught by teachers who are not fully prepared to be teachers.
- Students with disabilities deserve accountability and qualified teachers so that they can be prepared for work or college.
The Arc Alliance Annual Awards Dinner May 21, 2015
Last evening, The Arc Alliance hosted the Annual Awards Dinner at JP Mascaro and Sons in Audubon PA. JP Mascaro provided the location, appetizers, full bar and most significantly, hospitality. The Arc Alliance thanks Pat and Susan Lee Mascaro for their ongoing support of The Arc Alliance!
The evening was full of lively conversation and outstanding food and accommodations. Topped off by a wonderful time honoring the 2014-15 annual Award recipients and their family’s. Below are the 2014-15 Award Recipients:
Mr. Justin McNutt
Volunteer Achievement Award Recipient
Justin is a student at Spring-Ford High School and has worked with The Arc Alliance Foundation for over two years. Justin demonstrates his abilities each day he comes to the office ready and eager to go to work. Justin is not happy unless he is able to get his work done and done correctly.
Justin’s focus and commitment to each task is an encouragement to those he works with and a testament to his outstanding ability and desire to get the job done. Justin is also involved with VOICE a vocational training program offered through the school district in partnership with the local Intermediate Unit. Justin also works with the family’s business (Rita’s Water Ice) where he assists with various book-keeping duties.
From an early age, Justin has been active in school, participating in vocal and choir groups where he has traveled and preformed. This past spring Justin and his date attended the Spring-Ford Prom with a large group of fellow choir and band friends.
It is obvious that with the support of his family, Justin has both the ability and desire to make an impact in his community.
Mr. Michael Romano
Self-Advocate Award Recipient
Mike is a guy that has always strived to be included in the community and has faced many obstacles in his journey. Mike has always had the desire to have a job in the community and now has the opportunity to do so at Mercy Suburban Hospital and works there weekends and also volunteers in the kitchen there during the week.
Mike’s determination has helped him achieve his goals and he is a prime example of how those with a disability can be productive and fully included members of the community. Mike is a fun-loving guy who enjoys going out and trying new things. Mike is an avid sports enthusiast and especially enjoys basketball and plays a very competitive game. He is supported by his wonderful family; his father, Mike; Mother, Denise; and Sister, Laura.
Ms. Sandy Katz
Community Action Award Recipient
Sandy has a long tenure as a board member at The Arc Alliance where she has brought her experience as a mother and professional in the private and nonprofit arena. Sandy’s passion for children and individuals with disabilities is evident in her early work in the public sector and then in her tenure at the United Way of Berks County.
Brianna, Sandy and Mike’s daughter, who has Down syndrome has certainly heightened her passion for children with Down syndrome, which is evidenced in her support of other mothers and her time leading the Down Syndrome Interest Group of Montgomery County.
Sandy volunteers regularly in support of The Arc Alliance and a multitude of other local and regional charities. Sandy constantly seeks resources for families and takes action. A perfect example is The Learning Program she spearheaded, providing supplemental educational support to children and their families.
Sandy represents the true spirit and image of a person who cares for her community and most significantly takes action!
Mr. John Atkins
Francesco A. Mascaro Citizen Award Recipient
John was an active member of Corpus Christi Church in Lansdale, especially with helping new members of the faith in the RCIA process, and he served as the Grand Knight in the Father Doyle Council 9715 of the Knights of Columbus. During his tenure Council 9715 raised by far the most support for The Arc and in particular The Arc Alliance!
He served as an organist for St. Andrew Catholic Church in Newtown, PA for 30 years, and was very active in civic and school activities as his children grew up. He served on the Home and School Board at St. Andrew’s School and the Parents Guild at Villa Joseph Marie High School for many years.
John participated in many community programs, including coaching soccer, serving as cub scoutmaster, board member for the Newtown Little League, and district administrator for Little League District 30. He also volunteered for 14 years on the Newtown Ambulance Squad as an EMT. He enjoyed playing the role of Santa Claus at various parish functions as well as for the retired Sisters in Montgomery County.
Mr. Joseph M. Hoeffel Esq.
Vincent J. Fitzpatrick Humanitarian Award Recipient
Joe Hoeffel is a longtime champion for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Joe fought for increased support for individuals with disabilities throughout his public career at the county, state and federal levels. From his days as a volunteer mentor in the Speaking For Ourselves self-advocacy program, to countless appropriations battles for Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Drug & Alcohol programs, to his own advocacy for the rights of those with disabilities. Hoeffel believes in equal rights and equal opportunities for all Americans. Hoeffel is a former county commissioner, state representative and member of Congress. He is a published author and business consultant, and is currently practicing law with Maza, David & Hoeffel in Montgomery County.
Dr. John J. George
Rose R. Rosa Award Recipient
January 2014, while maintaining his role as executive director, he assumed the position of acting superintendent of the Reading School District, a role he undertook to turn around the school district and ensure that the district remain under local control rather than state control. Both of these goals were accomplished.
Prior, Dr. George served as superintendent and assistant superintendent of the Warwick School District, and as special education director at the Lancaster–Lebanon Intermediate Unit. His experience also includes service with the Capital Area Intermediate Unit as an administrator in the Instructional Support System of PA (the forerunner of the PaTTAN
system), and with the Washington, D.C. based National Association of State Directors of Special Education as assistant director for Governmental Relations. Dr. George began his career as a special education teacher in Morgantown, WV; Fairfax County, VA; and in the Pittsburgh area.
Dec 18, 2014 Casey-Burr ABLE Act Passes Senate, Heads to the President’s Desk to Become Law
Casey and Burr-Led Effort Passes Easily with 78 Senate Cosponsors Bill Previously Passed the House with 404-17 Margin
ABLE Has Been Called “…the broadest legislation to help the disabled in nearly a quarter-century.”
Washington, DC– Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) announced that the Senate has passed his Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The bill will allow families who have a child with a disability to save for their long-term care through 529-style savings accounts. The ABLE Act passed the House last week with a final vote of 404-17. This legislation has been called “…the broadest legislation to help the disabled in nearly a quarter-century.
“I could not be more proud of the support the ABLE Act has received from members of both parties in the House and Senate, and from all of the families who worked with us to achieve this historic goal,” said Senator Casey. “From the beginning, the power of these families who want to save for their loved ones’ long term care has propelled the ABLE Act forward. We believe that individuals across this country with disabilities have a lot of ability. I look forward to President Obama quickly signing this bill into law so that countless families and individuals can have the tools they need to live a full life and have a bright future.”
“Some have called the ABLE Act the most significant piece of legislation affecting the disabled since passage of the American Disabilities Act nearly 25 years ago. I got involved in this effort nearly 8 years ago with Senator Casey. Families of severely disabled children came to us expressing the critical need for an easy way to save for their child’s future expenses, especially since many Americans with Down Syndrome and autism are now outliving their parents,” said Senator Burr. “Most middle-class families don’t have the money to spend on lawyers and financial planners to set up sophisticated trusts to make sure that their disabled child will be OK long after they are gone. What’s worse current federal law actually discourages parents from putting any assets in the name of their disabled child in fear of disqualifying them from federal programs down the road. It’s utterly unacceptable that our current laws doom a child born with a disability to a lifetime of poverty and dependence. This is especially unfortunate when a parent or other family member has the resources and the desire to save and plan for that child’s future expenses but are advised by lawyers and planners not to. The ABLE Act will take the first critical step in ending this injustice.”
The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code to allow use of tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill, first introduced in 2006, would ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, medical, and transportation. The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, the Medicaid program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources.
What are the Key Characteristics of ABLE Accounts
The Arc Alliance 2012 Annual Report
Please take a few moments and review The Arc Alliance 2012 Annual Report. This document highlights activities for this past year. If you have additional questions, comments or would like to be more involved with The Arc Alliance please contact us.
Berks FC United and Red lions have partnered with The Arc Alliance! For the next two years these two priemer soccer clubs will be wearing The Arc Alliance Logoed Uniform Kits. Through their high level of play they will provide awarness about The Arc Alliance. In addition they are helping raise funds for the agency through donations and various fundraising events.
Both, Berks AJAX FC U13 & U14 premier boy’s soccer teams had outstanding 2012 Fall seasons:
U13 Ajax Red Lions championed their DELCO Fall 2012 league.
U14 Ajax United claimed their DELCO Fall 2012 league championship.
In addition to winning or placing in many tournaments over the years, both teams also took home the 2012 Eastern PA Youth Soccer Association Indoor Cup.
The boys from both teams play quality and competitive soccer, and they are also active with TOPSoccer, where they buddy with players who have special needs. Each Berks Ajax FC player who participates helps their buddy learn the game that has brought them so much joy.
The Arc Alliance seeks opportunities to build relationships in the community, raising awareness of the critical needs of those families we serve. If you would like to get further engaged with The Arc Alliance please contact Scott Camilleri.
2012 Summer Bash & Annual Membership Meeting
Yes, it was a hot night but actually, not that bad. Although the temp’s reached near 100 degrees, in the shade with the breeze, water and mister it was not that bad. It seemed that the children of all ages really had a great time!
Thanks to The Arc Alliance Staff for all their work in pulling yet another Summer Bash together! Everyone did a great job. Below are some pictures of award recipients from the event of Senator Bob, Mensch, JP Mascaro (accepting an award on his father Pat’s behalf), The Scarpello family and Marisa Good.
Rally on May 12th See below for details
Also check out the event page for additional information
President Obama Tells The Arc “I’ve Got Your Back”
On February 10, 150 leaders of The Arc from across the country met with a variety of senior White House officials at a Community Leaders Briefing to ask questions and discuss issues facing people with I/DD. The session, held just for The Arc, included an unannounced visit from President Barack Obama. The President spoke of his commitment to people with disabilities saying, “I’ve got your back.” His surprise appearance marks the first time a president addressed the organization since John F. Kennedy 50 years ago. Over the course of the day, leaders of chapters of The Arc were briefed on t
opics ranging from Medicaid to education to community living and employment for people with I/DD. Many of the speakers, including President Obama, referenced the impact advocates made during budget negotiations to protect Medicaid, and encouraged The Arc and others to continue these efforts.
Legislative Breakfast March 8, 2012
This morning, several of The Arc Alliance executives, board members and service providers met with Bucks County state representatives and staff members to discuss issues and challenges facing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are grateful to Senator Robert Tomlinson of the 6th District, for his hospitality and work bringing together those we met with today.
At this meeting The Arc Alliance was pleased to present Senator Tomlinson The Arc Alliance’s Vincent J. Fitzpatrick Award for his life-long achievements and contributions to significant improvements in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Senator Tomlinson was not able to be in attendance, however the Senators District Director, Albert Sutter Jr. graciously accepted the award from Paul Stengle on his behalf.
The Governor’s budget with the various and significant cuts to services for those we serve was a significant topic of concern during our meeting. Paul Stengle facilitated the time incorporating those in attendance into the discussion enabling the representatives from Bucks County to hear from a variety of voices. We also presented several other key issues of concern from reform of special education , school climate for students with disabilities to the increasing waiting list issue, increased admittance to state institutions, employment and the inequity of the due process within school related issues.
It was a full and high paced meeting covering many significant and critical issues! We thank all those in attendance!