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Today's Family Magazine

Lake County Taking a Leadership Role with State Issues

Mar 07, 2019 01:51PM

LCBDD Leadership Group

At the Ohio Association of County Board (OACB) 35th Annual Convention held recently in Columbus, Ohio, hundreds of professionals from across Ohio's county board of developmental disabilities (DD) system gathered for professional development, networking and continuing education.

The Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Deepwood (LCBDD) was an integral part of the agenda to share strategies and insights relative to meeting the needs of individuals with DD now, as well as into the future. Conference sessions were designed to help county leaders rethink long-standing assumptions and reimagine what is possible.

County boards reflected on how needs for individuals they serve were once met in the basement of churches and state-run institutions, and now they are exploring ways to create movement forward, such as revamping Ohio’s waiver wait list, re-examining community employment initiatives and collaborating to improve educational processes.

“Lake County was one of the first counties in Ohio to develop local programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities so that loved ones were not excluded from public life, nor relegated to access services in distant locations segregated from their families and communities,” said Eflie Roman, LCBDD’s superintendent. “Through the ensuing decades, LCBDD/Deepwood has remained an innovative leader in Ohio, empowering individuals to engage in their communities and live full, meaningful lives.”

Over the years, people with DD and their families had voiced that Ohio's waiting list for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers was overly complex and in need of simplification. To better serve Ohioans with DD, organizations collaborated the past two years to modernize Ohio’s Medicaid Waiver waiting list, with the goal to replace the current system and improve the way Ohio’s waiting list for HCBS waivers operates to identify people who have a current need for services and match those people to resources that will meet their unique assessed needs.

“County boards have a variety of ways to meet people’s needs – a waiver is just one of them,” said Jodi Travers, LCBDD’s Community Outreach Director. “The coalition’s work is vital so that county boards can effectively plan to meet current and future needs. We’ve made a great deal of progress, but our work is not done yet.”

At the conference, Jodi Travers, alongside Amber Gibbs of the Cuyahoga County Board of DD, Karin Crabbe of the Franklin County Board of DD and Latrice Smith of the Hamilton County Board of DD, were the recipients of OACB's 2018 “Partners in Excellence Awards” for their role in the Fix The List campaign.

Lake County is also at the forefront of promoting integrated competitive employment for individuals with DD. LCBDD’s Community Employment Services Director, Bob Fratino and Career Development Manager Chris Trombley shared their successes in a presentation at the OACB conference that highlighted their work in creating, expanding and sustaining a collaborative provider network, known as the Lake County Employment Network, which not only supports the goals of jobseekers with developmental disabilities, but those of employers as well.  

To continue to enhance business relationships with employers, as well as prospective employers, Trombley provides Diversity Training to all employers and their employees.

“The training is geared toward work interactions and how that may look with individuals who have disabilities,” said Trombley. “The focus of the training is to dispel myths as well as field relevant questions from employees of those businesses.”   

Looking forward, CES intends to expand its relationships through the Lake County Employment Network to include organizations/providers that work with non-disabled individuals. CES will continue to utilize its strong networking relationships to meet the needs of Lake County businesses by providing qualified employees.

Lake County is also a leader relative to the DD educational system. The LCBDD’s Broadmoor School completed an Ohio Department of Education – Office for Exceptional Children Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) Progress Monitoring Review, which brought its programs and services to the forefront as one of the first county board programs to undergo this review process statewide.  

Sheryl Kline, director of the Children Services Division and principal of Broadmoor School, presented at the OACB Conference about their experiences as a county board who had gone through the review.

“Broadmoor achieved statewide recognition from this review and was able to provide assistance to our fellow colleagues who had not yet to gone through the process,” said Kline. “It was a very positive and productive learning experience which furthered our close collaboration with our state support team and local public school special education administrators.”

Kline added, “ODE was very pleased with our educational instruction and student progress, our thorough Individual Education Plans (IEP) with strong classroom implementation and our utilization of accommodation, modification and assistive technology.”

 “We’re proud of Ohio’s advancements and commitment to serving individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Roman. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the role the Lake County Board of DD has taken to reimagine the possibilities for both those we serve and our communities.”

Those interested in learning more about the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Deepwood’s programs and services can visit www.lakebdd.org/ or visit them on social media. 

The mission of the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Deepwood is to EMPOWER people with developmental disabilities to ENGAGE in activities that ENRICH their lives and contribute to their community.