Time to Give Thanks

By Director Barbara Palmer

As the cooler weather is making its way back into Florida, most of us are beginning to think about the upcoming Holidays. November is the perfect time of year to give thanks and remember how much has been accomplished at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), while also knowing there is always more to do.

Here at APD, we had a very successful October celebrating Disability Employment Awareness Month. We had a great event recognizing eight outstanding businesses that are committed to hiring people with disabilities (see story below). There were information fairs and mentoring activities around the state, too. I enjoyed talking with our APD customers and reading about their employment successes in several newspapers. I love to see people recognized for their achievements.

I am extremely thankful to Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature for supporting $40 million in additional money this fiscal year so we may enroll 2,000 new individuals into the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waiver.  Added to the $56 million the agency received the past two years, APD has receive $96 million to offer services to 4,800 people. This is wonderful news for the people we serve. 

Some ask why APD still has 20,000 on the waiting list when people are being enrolled, and the reason is babies are born every day with developmental disabilities. There will always be demand for waiver services and we want to help those in need. APD is in a much better position now to offer services to those who truly need state help, while also continuing to plan for the future needs of others.

With the Legislative Session coming in January, APD is preparing to respond to questions and inquiries from lawmakers. We are hoping for another productive and positive session for our agency and the people who are served by it, along with those that provide vital services to APD customers.

I want to thank APD customers, families, waiver support coordinators, providers, Family Care Council members, APD employees, and all stakeholders for a fabulous year.  I appreciate everyone’s contributions to our mission. We couldn’t do it without you for your caring hearts, hard work, and dedication, I am truly thankful!

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!