In December, Missouri Senator Caleb Rowden visited the agency for a meeting with Executive Director Robyn Kaufman, who provided him an overview of what we do and why we do it, and shared with him our hopes and concerns moving into the future. He also met with constituents of his who are supported by the agency in a variety of ways — including support coordination and early intervention services for a child; supported employment services for a woman working competitively; and residential support services for a man living as independently as possible.
Parents Jim and Heather Koch shared with the Senator their experiences as new parents of a child with a disability, and how helpful their Support Coordinator Barb Friskey has been in navigating an unfamiliar system for critical early intervention services their son needs.
From the agency’s main office, the Senator traveled with staff to a local business. Community Employment Specialist Rachel Murphy briefed him along the way about the agency’s supported employment program. Teaghan, who is an all star clerk at Big Lots, shared with him about her work, and her appreciation of being productive.
At one of the supported living apartment programs, the Senator met with Ricky and his support staff. Ricky shared about his life, the supports he appreciates, and his job at the University Athletic Department. The staff shared generally about the supported living program and the broad variety of supports provided based on individual needs and circumstances.
As the legislative session in Missouri is soon underway (January 9—May 17), the General Assembly will face hard decisions in crafting a balanced budget. Advocates for people with developmental disabilities and their families want to be sure their support needs are given priority consideration amid limited resources. It is important that legislators are acquainted not only with individuals and families who want and need supports and services, but also with the individuals and organizations who provide supports and services such as BCFR.
Boone County Family Resources is a member of the Missouri Association of County Developmental Disability Services (MACDDS) as well as the Missouri Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (MARF). Both of these organizations have established their legislative priorities for the 2019 session, and those priorities are essentially the same. From MACDDS:
· Adequately fund services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) ;
· Ensure ALL Missourians have the opportunity to work in a competitive, integrated setting;
· Safeguard existing programs, funding and services from Managed Care entities, which have been proven to be ineffective with I/DD services in every state where they have been introduced.
In her meeting with Senator Rowden, Robyn talked about the nationwide direct support professional workforce crisis. In Missouri, adequate funding to enable adequate wages is seen as an important piece in an effort to recruit and retain direct support professionals. She discussed the importance of employment support services, as well as the importance of proceeding with caution and collaboration as the potentiality of Medicaid Managed Care looms ahead.
[In October, BCFR hosted State Representatives Martha Stevens, Chuck Basye, Cheri Toalson-Reisch, and Kip Kendrick.]