iCircle Services - Supporting Individual Choice and Empowerment
September 2013

iCircle's
Community Connection

Issue #33

Message from the Board

iCircle held a couple more focus groups this past week, and we are looking forward to sharing the feedback with you once we have completed all of the remaining sessions. Thank you to everyone who has participated in one of these sessions. We appreciate your feedback!

For those of you who may be looking for some additional information on iCircle, or the providers in our network, please visit the Resources section on our website. Here you will find a list of iCircle providers by county, an FAQ document, and other downloadable information. We are proud of our extensive network, which covers a 22-county region in the Central New York, and we hope you will take some time to become familiar with our providers and the variety of services that they have to offer.

A Look at CSS

Consolidated Supports and Services (CSS) is an OPWDD Home and Community Based Services waiver self-directed service option that empowers people with developmental disabilities, and their families, to design and manage services through a plan based on their individual needs and goals. Traditional services don’t work for everyone and this option tends to be more cost-effective and allows for more flexibility in a person’s plan. However it also puts more responsibility on the individual and their family. For CSS to work successfully, the individual needs to have a family member who can assist if they are unable to advocate for themselves. Those who enroll in CSS control their own CSS budgets with assistance from a Financial Management Services Agency (FMS). Individuals and their families may choose to hire and manage their own staff supports as an option.

Jon

 

Lori Piccirilli, from Greene, NY, shared with us about her family’s experience with CSS:

Our family began with interpretation that we would lose services we needed so desperately and had just received. However, with the trust and guidance of our Medicaid Service Coordinator, we took the plunge into CSS, and in hindsight, we have no regrets. We were reassured, since our children were very young, that we didn't need a large circle of support, and extended family was a good start. Through our efforts to discover what person centered planning and self advocacy looked like for pre-teens, we elected to start with letting our sons, Jon (right) and Ryan (below), choose how the meetings would be run. They decided to center them around a meal - their favorite of course! Needless to say, I believe everyone enjoyed those first year meetings, with lots of pizza and brownies.

 

Now, over 5 years later, our sons are often polling their circle for meal preferences, preparing the food, setting the table and helping with the agenda. The services they receive are determined by their direct input. They freely discuss their needs, wants and fears. Staff interviews, originally conducted mainly by mom and dad, are now mainly determined by the boys, including staff reviews. The boys are even good at giving fair and accurate reports of their staff's strengths and alerting us to those that need immediate evaluations. As they are both teenagers now, we are discussing with them each about selecting a peer to become part of their circle of support. It is a goal that there will be more similar-aged circle of support members to share both the burden and joys of navigating their rare medical condition and developmental disabilities. 

For us as a family, it has allowed the skills and supports we provide as parents, to also be given through trained, consistent 1:1 staff supports who are familiar with our sons. For the boys, it has allowed them to participate alongside school and community peers with support from fun, familiar, trained staff without appearing different.

We have had the joy of working with college students, sharing our sons’ medical and developmental challenges, while they learn and go on to become doctors, teachers, and therapists. We have also worked with community members, who have bridged areas of empathy and understanding that were not present before their involvement. Our sons work hard on achieving skills for their independence, while learning to take care of their challenges too. I believe CSS provided this opportunity through the self-hiring initiatives.

I believe my sons will find some level of graduation from the intensity of services and supports because of the opportunities their CSS plans afford them. Regardless of this, I feel assured we received the benefits they needed, which means to us that others can be helped through unused funds too.

Achieving Community Employment

In this changing environment, we know that seeking out opportunities for community employment is more important than ever before. We hope that this story about Terrell P. and his employer, will serve as an example of how employers in the local community can make an impact by providing work opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

Terrell P. received vocational training while working at Flutters Cafe, a restaurant at CDS Monarch’s Wolf Life Transitions Center in Webster, NY. It was there that he learned to prepare a wide variety of foods and maintain good kitchen safety. Terrell took the Level II Food Service Certification exam through the Monroe County Department of Health. He studied hard for the coursework and test, making time in his very busy work day to familiarize himself with the New York State food safety guidelines. He was required to memorize very specific facts, like the temperature at which different types of meat must be cooked, and the strict requirements for proper sanitation and disinfection in order to maintain a safe and healthy kitchen. The exam was not easy, but Terrell passed with flying colors!

When Terrell applied for the Porter position at Rochester General Hospital (RGH) he was well-trained and qualified as a result of the vocational training and employment support he had received. He was hired on part-time in October 2011 and due to his incredible work performance, Terrell was offered a full-time position with benefits in November 2012.

It is clear that Terrell takes pride in his work and gets a great deal of satisfaction from it. This opportunity has given him more independence, both at work and in his personal life.

His manager at RGH, Jim Creighton, shared that “Terrell is a pleasure to work with. He is highly motivated, gets along well with everyone and is always willing to try new things. His dedication to learning and positive attitude have helped him to be successful.”

Terrell and RGH are a perfect fit for each other, and a true embodiment of what everyone hopes for when seeking employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Terrell is doing work that he loves, with a team that respects him and his abilities, and he is earning a living wage with full benefits in a place where there is enormous potential for growth and promotion.

 

In July 2013, Terrell and RGH were chosen as the recipients of the New York State OPWDD “Works for Me” Award – which will be presented at a ceremony in Albany on October 16th. Congratulations to Terrell and RGH on this accomplishment!

Join the Conversation

Stay connected to what's going on at iCircle as we continue to grow our network and develop our DISCO. We want to hear from you! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: @iCircleServices

Thank you for your Support!

Sincerely,
iCircle Services

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Mission: iCircle Services is a service portal where individuals with developmental disabilities and their families can self-direct, advocate, and secure the supports and services that best fit their needs. We are guided by individual choice, inclusion, diversity, cultural competence, respect, community, learning and empowerment for those we serve.

Vision: iCircle Services will establish a comprehensive, sustainable, trusted, and compassionate system of supports and services that will help empower families and individuals with developmental disabilities to promote their happiness, independence and inclusion as productive members of our community.

Contact Us:
Phone: 1-855-775-3778
Email: info@icirclecny.org
Website: www.icirclecny.org


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