Developmental Disability Day in Annapolis: Advocates Vital Update

by Jay and Melissa Silverman

 Self-Advocate Melissa Silverman and Delegate Shelly Hettleman (D, district 11)

Self-Advocate Melissa Silverman and Delegate Shelly Hettleman (D, district 11)

Eight hundred attended the Developmental Disability Day in Annapolis on February 22, 2018.  This was the largest group to attend DD Day and the largest coalition of any group to ascend Annapolis this year.  Included in the group were CDSPG’s Jay and Melissa Silverman.

Governor Hogan’s proposed FY19 budget includes a 1% rate increase for developmental disability services, rather than the 3.5% mandated by the Minimum Wage act of 2014.  That means that while the State minimum wage rate will increase by $0.85 on July 1, 2018, the reimbursement rate for direct support staff will actually decrease by $0.02.  Melissa explained to her senator and delegates that, “It is hard to find and keep good job coaches.”  Delegate Shelly Hettleman (D, district 11) spoke at the opening meeting before the 800 participants headed to meet their legislators.         

 Del. Hettleman along with Sen. Rich Madaleno (D, district 18 Montgomery Co) are the lead sponsors of HB664/SB543, the only minimum wage bill to address the critical need for funding for DD services.                   

Another issue we asked our representatives to support was the SB550/HB782 Death of a Designated Beneficiary for the ABLE ACT.  As of now, the remaining funds of an ABLE account will be given to the State on the death of the individual.  This bill will allow the beneficiary of the account to designate where the remaining funds should be distributed.

The governor’s budget does include funds for the 165 people on the State’s Waiting List in the Crisis Resolution category and for the 613 youth who are graduating this year for employment and day services.  We encouraged our representatives to support these budget issues.

2017 NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington

2017 NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington

The National Down Syndrome Society held its annual Buddy Walk on DC the week of April 4, 2017.  There were about 350 people from 38 states that walked the halls ofCongress, visiting their congressional leaders.  CDSPG had 2 families lobbying on behalf of our families, Justin & Kimberly Waszkiewicz, along with baby Nora from Havre de Grace and CDSPG Board member Melissa Silverman and Jay Silverman from Owings Mills.

Adults with DS Make Their Mark: A Report from the NDSC Convention

Adults with DS Make Their Mark: A Report from the NDSC Convention

This year’s National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) convention was held on July 21-24 in Orlando, Florida, and I was eager to see what new and emerging trends I would find. The disabilities world is currently experiencing a wave of public awareness, policy changes, and technology and business innovation. A forum like the NDSC convention is the perfect place to feature some of these changes.

I Pledge To Be a Face and Voice for Down Syndrome

As I’m writing this President’s Post, sitting in the comfort of my bed on this rainy Tuesday, Governor Hogan is signing Maryland’s ABLE Act before witnesses who championed the bill since its infancy. And, on the national front, hundreds of individuals with Down syndrome and their families and friends from across the country are meeting with members of Congress and their staff as part of the National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk on Washington.

DSAIA, Delivering Doughnuts, and Down Syndrome

This month, I attended the Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action (DSAIA) leadership conference in Charlotte, N.C., with fellow board member and First Call Director Anna Fulbright. It was an amazing experience of networking and learning from some of the best and brightest DS affiliate leaders in order to provide better service to Baltimore’s Down syndrome community.

Post-secondary Education: The “future” is right around the corner!

Post-secondary Education: The “future” is right around the corner!

The State of the Art Conference is a two-day conference devoted to the topic of postsecondary education (PSE) for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Recognizing the critical importance of this emerging field, CDSPG became a sponsor for this year’s conference. Yvonne Hu-Cotto and Claire Holmes, along with her son Charlie,  represented CDSPG and were able to network with professionals and advocates from across the nation.