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Monday, June 22, 2015

Many automakers both domestic and foreign will help pay for hand controls to drive...

By JERRY WOLFFE


It's not supposed to be a secret but it seems that way: Many automakers will pay between $500 and $1,000 to help a person with a disability pay for hand controls or to offset the cost of a wheelchair lift if he or she buys a vehicle.
Here's a quick list of the companies and how to contact them, as posted on the Florida company Website of Harmar
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About

Mobility Reimbursement Program

Many automobile manufacturers offer mobility programs established to provide cash reimbursements for the installation of adaptive equipment in any new vehicle purchase or lease. Please call the manufacturer's or visit their websites for more information.
  • Acura Mobility Program

    Acura Mobility Program

    The Acura Mobility Program is proud to support the mobility needs of drivers and passengers with physical disabilities. For more information, contact Acura Customer Service at 1-800-382-2238
  • Chrysler Automobility Program

    Chrysler Automobility Program

    The Chrysler Automobility Program provides up to $1,000 in financial assistance toward the installation of adaptive equipment on new Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles. Please contact Automobility Program Headquarters at (800) 255-9877 or any U.S. Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep dealership for more details.
  • Ford Mobility Program

    Ford Mobility Program

    Ford Mobility Motoring offers financial assistance of $1,200 toward the cost of the installation of adaptive equipment on a new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle. The program also offers Ford Credit Mobility Financing and comprehensive Roadside Assistance. To begin the Ford Mobility Motoring process, contact the Ford Mobility Motoring Customer Care Center at 1-800-952-2248.
  • GM Mobility Program with OnStar

    GM Mobility Program with OnStar

    Get up to $1,000 reimbursement ($1,200 on Chevy Express/GMC Savana vans) PLUS 2 extra years of the OnStar safety and security service when you buy or lease an eligible new GM vehicle (except Cadillac) and install eligible adaptive equipment (e.g., hand controls, scooter hoist, wheelchair lift). Vehicle must be adapted and a claim submitted within 12 months of the vehicle purchase/lease date. To learn more, please visit our web site or call us toll-free at 1-800-323-9935 (TTY users 1-800-833-9935).
  • Honda Mobility Program

    Honda Mobility Program

    In addition to the printable format of the form on the Honda web site, forms are also available at your local Honda dealer or upon request from Automobile Customer Service at 1-800-999-1009.
  • Jaguar Mobility Program

    Jaguar Mobility Program

    The Jaguar Mobility Headquarters can assist in locating assessment centers, equipment dealers and installers, and potential resources for financial assistance. For further information on the Jaguar Mobility Program call 1-800-207-5517 or TTY 1-800-833-0312 .
  • Lexus Mobility Program

    Lexus Mobility Program

    This offer applies to all purchased or leased new 2001 and later Lexus vehicles. Leased vehicles require advance written approval from the lessor of adaptive equipment installations. Questions? Please call Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-255-3987 or 1-800-443-4999 (TDD).
  • Toyota Mobility Program

    Toyota Mobility Program

    The Toyota Mobility Program supports the mobility needs of Toyota owners and/or family members with physical disabilities. Please contact the Toyota Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-331-4331.
  • Volvo Mobility Program

    Volvo Mobility Program

    Mobility by Volvo is a logical extension of the Care by Volvo philosophy that travels from the Volvo retailer to your driveway. The goal is to assist persons who are mobility challenged or hearing impaired so their transportation needs can be met within the extraordinary comfort and safety of a specially adapted Volvo. To begin the process and learn more, you can contact the Mobility by Volvo Center at 1-800-803-5222.
  • Volkswagon Mobility Program

    Volkswagon Mobility Program

    Volkswagen will refund up to $1000 on the purchase or lease of a new Volkswagen vehicle if vehicle access or ramp equipment is installed. For more information, contact Volkswagen of America at 1-800-DRIVE VW.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Go on a “Magic Journey” with MORC Players




Box: Contact Deidre Mercer at (586) 263-8702 to purchase tickets for $10 each. People with Disabilities are admitted free.
By JERRY WOLFFE
The MORC Players, who received a $2,600 grant, will present the innovative play, “Magic Journeys: Where Imagination is King and Dreams Come True!” at 7 p.m. June 23 at the Troy Community Center.

It is the second year the 20 or so MORC Players have performed a play to showcase the creative abilities of people with cognitive and physical disabilities.

“We are hoping to get people from Oakland and Macomb counties to come in and be surprised by the level of enthusiasm and talent this program, “Magic Journeys,” will demonstrate,” said Lou Fazzini, the executive director and Founder of “All the World’s a Stage.”

The MORC Players received the $2,600 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Anton Center in Mount Clemens before the players started practicing in April, Fazzini said.

“You give them a costume and they are just so happy to be part of an acting ensemble,” Fazzini said. “They find the good in everything.”

The first play last fall was such a success, he said. “It gave them an opportunity to do something that they probably haven’t had the chance to do before in their lives.”

This is a good thing for these performers on a number of levels, said Fazzini. “It creates an environment of safety and acceptance. It’s therapeutic.”

Before practicing for the play on Tuesdays for the past few months, the individuals attended a regular class on how to manage anger. “Then they come and perform and the disruptive behavior disappears and each person learns to be part of the ensemble and it’s a give-and-take relationship,” said volunteer instructor Deirdre Mercer.

“The MORC Players are so giving and have such empathy,” said Fazzini. “They have troubles but I have never seen a group of people who are so genuinely honest and appreciative.”

The play is not scripted but is an actor’s showcase. The actors/actresses are going to present and demonstrate acting skills they’ve learned. “We worked a lot on nonverbal and pantomime skills and some of the performance will get the audience involved to try and guess what someone is trying to show or be through pantomime.

Our troupe members do something very creative, not the standard way; they think out of the box and based on last year’s pilot performance everyone has a good time and grows closer and the audience sees performers, not people with disabilities.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.

 

 

 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Document for state, local governments on ADA published by Justice Department


By JERRY WOLFFE


The Department of Justice has published a new technical assistance document, ADA Update: A Primer for State and Local Governments, to help State and local government officials understand how Title II of the ADA applies to their programs, activities, and services. This 16-page illustrated guide addresses general nondiscrimination requirements, such as provisions relating to program accessibility, service animals, communicating with people with disabilities, other power-driven mobility devices, and policies and procedures. The document also addresses how the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design apply to the built environment, including existing buildings and facilities, new construction, and alterations.

To find out more about the ADA, visit ADA.gov or call the Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A vast majority of nation's people with disabilities receive NO public financial help


By JERRY WOLFFE
MORC Writer-in-Residence, Advocate-at-large

The Madison House Autism Foundation Website via The DD News Blog reported on June 1, 2015 that “of the 3.775 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, 77 percent of them do not receive publicly funded residential supports."


"Of the 23 percent, or 1.127 million with I/DD who do not receive publicly funded supports, 56 percent live with family and 44 percent do not live with family. Of the 44 percent who do not live with family, 27 percent of those live in their own home. The other 73 percent live in group homes, foster homes, nursing facilities and less than 1,000 live in psychiatric facilities.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

MORC housing specialist wins award

Layne wins Corrie Bair award from state disability rights coalition
By JERRY WOLFFE
David Layne won the Corrie Bair Building Inclusive Communities Award from the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition for 20 years of advocacy for affordable accessible homes for people with disabilities.
"I was so honored," said Layne, the Nursing Facility Transitions specialist at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. Layne, of Rochester who has twin 19-year-old sons, Jacob and Joshua, has worked for MORC as a contract housing specialist since 2009.
"To hold such people in esteem and have them give you an award is an honor of a lifetime," said Layne referring to retiring MDRC Director Norm DeLisle and assistant director RoAnn Chaney, formerly of the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living.
He was nominated for the award by the Michigan Disability Housing Workgroup which meets every other month in Lansing.
"The goal of all of this is to build inclusive communities," said Layne, who helps transition people from nursing homes to their own places through Mi-Choice or with the assistance of the Disability Network, formerly Centers for Independent Living.
"I've worked on finding affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities since the 1990s," he said. "I used to line up group homes for MORC, the State of Michigan and Oakland and Macomb counties."
He is a licensed broker and has been a real estate agent since 1977.
"There's a huge housing shortage for those with disabilities and the elderly at a time when rents are going up," said Layne, noting an average one-bedroom apartment costs $600 to $700 a month and a person on Supplemental Security Income receives $733 a month, making it financially impossible for a person with a disability to afford to rent a home.
He said the Olmstead ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court found a person with a disability has a civil right to housing and it is not an entitlement, Layne said. "It is a civil right to live in the community and receive services when possible," he said.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said "we have an obligation to provide affordable housing," said Layne. "Inherent in the Olmsted ruling is the obligation that housing choices are made available to the elderly and those with disabilities."
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263 8950.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Caregiver Appreciation Day to feature son of Motown legend


(from left: Claudreen Jackson, her son, Pervice Jackson, Jr, and Pervice's sister, Stephanie. Pervice will perform at MORC's Caregiver Appreciation Day on Thursday.

By JERRY WOLFFE

The 33rd annual Macomb-Oakland Regional Center’s Caregiver Appreciation Day and Fashion Show will honor 800 caregivers in attendance at the Palazzo Grande Banquet in Shelby Township Thursday.
P.J. Jackson, son of the late Motown legend Pervice Jackson, Sr., of the Spinners will model and sing at the event from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The event will feature 100 caregivers and people with disabilities modeling together in what is known as Detroit’s biggest fashion show, the MORC Caregiver Fashion Show. Jackson Jr., of Oak Park, has autism. He will model and sing with his mother, Claudreen Jackson of Detroit, his sister, Stephanie Jackson of Detroit, who 0is a caregiver with a local nonprofit.
“He was always proud of P.J., said Claudreen. “ All of our people with disabilities have overcome a great deal, as have their caregivers.”
“We have thousands of proud parents,” said MORC Executive Director Gerald Provencal, who along with others was instrumental in closing 12 state institutions where 13,000 people with disabilities were housed and moved them into homes in the community with supports needed to thrive. MORC also has taught officials in 54 countries of the 196 in the world to close institutions and let those with disabilities live in the community.
In total, some 8,000 caregivers are employed by the MORC system of 100 nonprofits as well as family caregivers. They support 5,000 people with disabilities in Macomb and Oakland counties.
Models were Kohl’s clothes provided by the retailer for the runway. Kohl associate volunteers from the Rochester Hills Kohl’s store volunteer their time to support the event. Tickets are available at (248) 276-8109 and cost $35. MORC is raising funds to cover the costs for caregivers, who earn an average of $9.06 an hour, to attend.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at MORC. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Voices of Disabilities: Feds announce new rule to improve public transit f...

Voices of Disabilities: Feds announce new rule to improve public transit f...: By JERRY WOLFFE WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today the publication of a Final Rule clarifying that publ...

Feds announce new rule to improve public transit for those with disabilities

By JERRY WOLFFE

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today the publication of a Final Rule clarifying that public transportation providers are required to make reasonable modifications to their polices, practices and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure programs and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
“Ensuring equal access to public transportation enables individuals with disabilities to have access to jobs, school, medical care and a better quality of life,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Making reasonable modifications to transit services helps bring everyone on the path to access the ladders of opportunities that all Americans strive for.”
The Final Rule applies to public entities providing fixed route, dial-a-ride and complementary paratransit services. It establishes that an individual’s disability cannot preclude a public transportation entity from providing full access to its service except where doing so would fundamentally alter the service. It also provides 27 examples of what a reasonable modification is and is not, and clarifies the definition of origin-to-destination service.
“Today’s rule simply codifies and clarifies what many in the transit community are already doing to accommodate their riders who have disabilities,” said Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan. “We are making sure that reasonable modifications are part of transit provider policies and more uniformly applied while keeping decision-making in their hands.”
Further, the Final Rule brings clarity to the issue of origin-to-destination policy which has had varied interpretations and was unevenly applied throughout the Nation. The new rule requires paratransit providers that primarily operate curb-to-curb service make reasonable modifications for those passengers who need assistance beyond the curb so that they can use the service. A significant number of paratransit operators already follow such an origin-to-destination policy.
Public transportation entities receiving Federal financial assistance have long had the obligation to provide reasonable modifications under various laws and regulations. This Final Rule revises and fills identified gaps in the DOT’s regulations. It becomes effective on July 13, 2015.
- See more at: http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/us-dot-announces-reasonable-modification-rule-improve-access-public-transportation#sthash.dgeHxGvy.dpuf

Friday, May 1, 2015

Law enforcement officers to receive crisis intervention training



By JERRY WOLFFE
The first of two, five-day Crisis Intervention Team trainings for Oakland County Sheriff Deputies, and other local law enforcement begins on Monday (May 4) at 1690 Brown Road in Auburn Hills.

A second training was scheduled for the week of May 18 under a $275,000 Jail Diversion grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health. CIT is strategically designed to promote positive outcomes during crisis situations that require police assistance.  

“We are especially thankful for the State’s vision in supporting this valuable initiative, as well as the opportunity to provide local law enforcement officers with the necessary resources to help ensure their success in assisting people in crisis,” said Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority Executive Director and CEO Willie Brooks.

Deputies who participate in CIT will receive 40 hours of comprehensive mental health training, which includes information about mental illness and developmental disabilities, opportunities to speak with advocates, individuals with mental illness and their families, and participation in role-playing scenarios.

“It is well worth mentioning that each of the deputies receiving CIT training at both sessions in May is doing so on a volunteer basis,” said Oakland County Sheriff, Michael Bouchard. “Their dedication to be better prepared when responding to individuals in crisis, especially those who have a mental health disorder, is an accurate reflection of the level of commitment to community safety adhered to by the entire Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.”  

Law enforcement agencies throughout the country that utilize CIT have experienced significant reductions in the number of officer and personal injuries, as well as a decrease in arrest rates.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large of the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Walkers raise $25,000 for Autism Society of Oakland County

By JERRY WOLFFE

TROY -- Some 659 people walked around the Somerset Collection in Troy to raise $25,000 for the Autism Society of Oakland County, said the society's president, Barbara Brennan.
The walk took place on the first floor of the posh shopping center off of Big Beaver Road on Sunday.
The money will go for "resources and programs in Oakland County for those with autism," said Brennan, who has two sons, aged 22 and 10 with autism.
"We are focusing on helping adults 18 and over which is an under served population," she said.
The society began in 1985 and Brennan has worked there for some 16 years. It provides no direct care but it "collaborates and helps create programs to improve the lives of those with autism," she said.
One-in-68 children being born in the United States is diagnosed with autism, a complex developmental disability that affects the individual's ability to communicate and interact with others.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Voices of Disabilities: New law goes into effect soon to help disabled fin...

Voices of Disabilities: New law goes into effect soon to help disabled fin...: By JERRY WOLFFE The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act became law last July 22 and goes into effect in the nation's 50 states th...

New law goes into effect soon to help disabled find jobs

By JERRY WOLFFE

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act became law last July 22 and goes into effect in the nation's 50 states this July 1 with the goal of increasing the number of people with disabilities find meaningful jobs.
Mary Costillo of the Vocational Rehabilitation Department in Texas said only "one in five" people with a disability in this nation is employed, an astoundingly horrific economic and social situation for the estimated 58 million people in the United States who have a disability.
She criticized employers in her state saying Tuesday (4.28.2015) that employers are hiring "not based on a person's need." Thus, an environment of failure is being created. Apparently, employers have not been implementing reasonable accommodation in hiring people with disabilities as required by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, she noted.
"We hope to change this," she said.
A Facebook page, Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act, has been created to get the word out about the new law.
The LEAD Center, funded by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Policy, is hosting a four-part webinar series titled "WIOA From a Disability Perspective."
To participate in this webinar Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST), go to https://leadcenter.webex.com/mw0401lsp13/mywebex/default.do?nomenu=true&siteurl=leadcenter&service=6&rnd=0.8158714542156543&main_url=https%3A%2F%2Fleadcenter.webex.com%2Fec0701lsp13%2Feventcenter%2Fevent%2FeventAction.do%3FtheAction%3Ddetail%26confViewID%3D1751339289%26%26EMK%3D4832534b0000000241b0ae009847272940ae84496a0476c54b1bad4870160e2b5142ea13f034d88a%26%26%26siteurl%3Dleadcenter
to participate in the webinar.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.
Congress passed the Act by a wide bipartisan majority; it is the first legislative reform in 15 years of the public workforce system.
Every year the key programs that form the pillars of WIOA help tens of millions of job seekers and workers to connect to good jobs and acquire the skills and credentials needed to obtain them. The enactment of WIOA provides opportunity for reforms to ensure the American Job Center system is job-driven—responding to the needs of employers and preparing workers for jobs that are available now and in the future, according to a press release.
WIOA supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In general, the Act takes effect on July 1, 2015, the first full program year after enactment, unless otherwise noted. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will issue further guidance on the timeframes for implementation of these changes and proposed regulations reflecting the changes in WIOA soon after enactment.
At a state and local level, Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) must engage in a unified strategic planning process that will enhance their focus on cross-system collaboration (Title I Adult and Youth programs and services with Wagner-Peyser Employment Services and Title I of the Rehabilitation Act programs).
WIOA represents new opportunities for support for job seekers with disabilities that increases responsibility of WIBs and American Job Centers to be fully accessible and offer necessary accommodations to provide job seekers with disabilities effective and meaningful participation in the use of skills training and career pathways for 21st century jobs.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hundreds to run in ‘Miles for Smiles 5K’ to raise funds to help those with disabilities



Registration deadline for the 5k May 2nd event at Independence Oaks Park is April 29. The fee to run or walk is $30. Sign up at www.morcinc.org/events/morc-miles-for-smiles or contact Jennifer Lasceski at (586) 416-2075

By JERRY WOLFFE

A 5K run/walk at the Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston on May 2 is expected to have about 300 participants with the goal of raising at least $10,000 to provide for dental care for people with disabilities that the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Inc. serves.
It is the fourth year for the event and about 200 people ran or walked last year along the paved path in the park.
“It’s very hard to find dentists because a lot of our individuals need to be sedated to get dental work and that’s not covered by any insurance or Medicaid,” said Kerri Pfaffenberger, a speech pathologist at MORC, based in Clinton Township.
She said it can cost $1,000 alone just to sedate someone with a severe disability so a dentist can work on their teeth.
Too many times people with disabilities do not receive proper dental care and hygiene and end up in hospitals with systemic infections that result from an abscessed tooth, costing as much as $100,000, when early treatment could have prevented hospitalization.
The deadline to register for the event is April 29. Check-in for participants will be at Twin Chimneys Shelter beginning at 8:30 a.m. The 5k, or 3.1 mile race, begins at 10 a.m. There also is a one-quarter mile walk that begins shortly after the runners take off.
“We walk the course a couple of days ahead of time,” Pfaffenberger said, noting it is wheelchair accessible. “This year we are having the MORC Choir sing the National Anthem before the 10 a.m. start.”
“We were looking for alternative ways to raise money but the 5K seemed to be a very good fund-raising event,” said Pfaffenberger. “There are a lot of people in the community who participate because they enjoy the park, the cause and they know about MORC helping those with disabilities,” she said.
Awards will be presented to the top three male and female 5K run finishers overall and top three in each division: 14 & under, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 and over. Separate awards will be given for top three 5k overall walkers, Pfaffenberger said.
Prizes also include medals and gift certificates to different running stores. A “tin can” raffle will be on-site too that day.
“Response from the public has been wonderful,” said Pfaffenberger.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Oakland County CMH says more cuts to be laid on providers

By JOHN TURK
Of The Oakland Press
A projected $11 million deficit at the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority has officials admitting that cuts to service providers, programs and layoffs are distinct possibilities to mitigate the shortfall.
After recently releasing some budget numbers on the projected deficit, Oakland’s authority said it is working with its provider agencies to look at reductions that could be necessary before Oct. 1, which is the beginning of the entity’s 2015-16 fiscal year.
Executive Director and CEO Willie Brooks said since 2013, a $14 million reduction in Medicaid dollars from the state, combined with an $8 million decrease in the general fund and a $7 million increase in service demand, left the agency with a $29 million budget shortfall.
After reserve money was used to reduce the deficit to $11 million, in 2015 “what happens is that the budget does not go away — it carries over into the next year. We still have that $11 million that we have to make up,” said Brooks.
Layoffs, the consolidation of providers and reductions to improve efficiency could all be on the table, Brooks said, adding he’s meeting with providers later this week to discuss the impact to those the entity serves. Some providers could potentially go out of business, he added.
Effects to residents
Tom Kendziorski, executive director at mental health advocacy group The Arc of Oakland County, said the deficit is “yet another low point” for people with mental health care issues, and for those who serve them.
The Arc, which has hosted three packed town hall meetings on the issue and has reached out to the community for action in other ways, has more than 1,000 dues paying members whose family members have some type of disability.
“With another decrease in funds, it’s going to mean less services for people with disabilities ... staff people for these service providers are essentially at minimum wage, maybe a little higher, with very little benefits,” said Kendziorski.
“If cuts continue, who wants to work for close to $8 an hour? They could make more working at their local WalMart or McDonald’s.”
Kendziorski added that the state’s Medicaid cuts are not proportional to the number of people served — and benefits provided — in Oakland County, which is about 27,000, by the mental health authority’s count. Less and less are individuals seeing community living support services, vocational training programs, transportation to those programs and residential services, he explained.
“Parents may have to shoulder more responsibility for caring for their adult children. But parents do get older, too, you know. They become 60 and 70 and can’t do what they used to do in their 30s and 40s.”
Jerry Wolffe, writer in residence and advocate at large at the Macomb Oakland Regional Center (MORC) in Clinton Township, said although he isn’t speaking on behalf of MORC, he personally believes society will regress if adequate funds aren’t seen for mental health statewide.
“You can’t cut millions of dollars and expect to provide services where the person has an optimal life,” said Wolffe.
“In these last 10 years, the rate of inflation has increased 30 percent, and funding had been chopped by millions of dollars. It leaves providers with the only option of cutting the salaries of the caregivers, who make an average of $9.06 an hour. There’s no more room to cut.”
Kendziorski agrees.
“We’re leading toward a collapse,” Kendziorski said.
“If we don’t have enough money to maintain the level of services that this generation expects ... it could mean that only the most severely disabled could be served, and the moderately impaired wouldn’t see much help, if any. That’s not a good situation.”
Kendziorski added that there is no cap on how much in reserve money the Community Mental Health Authority can use to stave off the deficit.
But Brooks said: “We can’t continue to use reserves — we’ll be out of Medicaid reserves next year at this time, at this rate.
We have to balance what’s going out to what’s coming in.”
More state cuts?
Last year, Medicaid cuts came to Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties mental health authorities to the tune of $48 million. The three regional mental health authorities cover more than 60 percent of the state’s Medicaid recipients.
The cuts came after years of assessment from the state’s Department of Community Health to reshuffle, or rebase, a new Medicaid rate across Michigan.
On top of the $14 million Medicaid dollars cut in Oakland alone, a worst-case scenario would be more cuts handed down from the state in 2016, Brooks said.
The county’s mental health authority has been working with legislators and the Department of Community Health to help the statewide division “develop a statewide solution, and understand their goal,” Brooks said.
“But at the same time, we want to maintain the infrastructure that we have here.”
Vicki Suder, the mental health authority’s director of rights and advocacy, said in 2010, the state closed the last institution for people with developmental disabilities. She said state funding is needed “to show people that they are valued members of the community, and we need to be able to support them.
“They are getting some of the basic care, not way above and beyond.”
In Macomb and Wayne, budgets seem to be balanced, barring any more state cuts, directors of each regional mental health authority recently told Crain’s Detroit.
The Detroit Wayne County Community Health Authority serves about 75,000 people, and has made reductions that have led to no projected cuts in services necessary in fiscal year 2015-16 fiscal.
The Macomb County Community Mental Health Authority said although it saw $23 million in cuts the past two years, it doesn’t expect reductions in 2016, either. It serves about 30,000 people.

DOJ: Girl can bring service dog to school



The U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a Letter of Findings regarding civil rights violations by the Gates-Chili Central School District in Rochester, N.Y. The DOJ found the District has violated title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by its refusal to permit a student to bring her service dog to school unless the student's mother also provides a full-time handler. The Letter of Findings is available on DOJ's ADA website.

 For more general information on the ADA visit www.ADA.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800)-514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY). 
-- By JERRY WOLFFE