Thursday, February 12, 2015

MORC reaches out to help those with disabilities of Middle Eastern heritage


Group focuses on helping Dearborn's Muslim population with disabilities

The Macomb-Oakland Regional Center wants to build on inroads made with members of the Muslim community in southeastern Michigan to let those of Middle Eastern heritage know it wants to do more to help them care for family members with disabilities.

“We want them to live out their dreams and goals,” said Patricia Tate, Livonia site manager for MORC’s Human Services of Wayne County.

The main focus is the Dearborn area, which has the largest Muslim population of any region in the nation.

Those from Middle Eastern countries in the Dearborn area are not always “aware of the services available for those with disabilities from MORC, the Wayne County Community Mental Health Authority or state and federal governments,” Tate said.

“Our first task is to let them know we are in their community to help them,” she noted.

To be eligible for MORC services, a person with a disability must be a recipient of Medicaid, Healthy Michigan, or Mi-Child.

“There is usually no cost for service to the family,” Tate said. “It is real important that we offer services to those of the Islamic faith in the area,” said MORC Executive Director Gerald Provencal. “We have great respect for their culture and we want to expand our services to them.”

“When we (MORC) came to Wayne County in October of 2012, we wanted the people to know we were here to help them,” Tate said.

The process has included creating contacts with school teachers, counselors, and Muslim community organizations to let them know MORC is available to provide services for those with disabilities.

The goal is to “build a trusting relationship with our office so we can create bridges to the Muslim community,” Tate said. 

“Right now, we have about 40 to 50 Islamic people who are active with us,” said Tate. “We’ve had more than 100 inquiries from parents through the Dearborn schools about what we can offer families. We also are seeing parents who receive our services encourage others in their community to call MORC.

“We’ve had success with reaching those in need with help from counselors and teachers in the Dearborn School District,” Tate said. “We are trying to build bridges to the Dearborn (Islamic) community and especially to those who have children with disabilities.”

Schools involved in MORC’s expansion program to those of the Islamic faith include Dearborn’s Howe Special Ed, Snow Elementary and Edsel Ford High School, among others, Tate said.

“Once we determine a family’s needs, we work with them and connect them with services,” said Tate.

MORC’s Wayne County intake worker Ruth Sullivan makes sure each family is properly evaluated so appropriate services are provided.

Services may include an evaluation to determine need, respite, help with caregiving, positive behavior supports, psychiatry as well as physical, occupational and speech therapy for someone with a disability, as needed.

“They want someone who understands their culture, their language and respect their privacy,” Tate said, adding MORC makes sure these desires are obeyed.

After one becomes a MORC client, a support coordinator is assigned to make sure the family and individual’s needs are addressed. An Individual Plan of Service also is created so someone with a disability receives the type of help they need to grow “to their maximum potential,” Tate said.

Interpreters who speak Arabic or other Middle Eastern languages accompany a MORC worker (if needed) when they are meeting with a family to determine how MORC can help.

“We want the individuals with disabilities who are of the Islamic faith to live as full a life as possible and MORC is here to help them achieve these goals,” Tate said.

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