Contact: Debra Walker, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs, 573-751-1647 or debra.walker@dmh.mo.gov

Missouri is becoming a Technology First state for individuals with disabilities

The Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities hosts a “Tech Fest” in Springfield

[March 19, 2019, JEFFERSON CITY, MO] — Today, the Department of Mental Health (DMH), Division of Developmental Disabilities is hosting a “Tech Fest” to showcase the announcement of Missouri becoming a Technology First state. Event is from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at The Library Center Auditorium, 4653 S. Campbell Ave, Springfield. This initiative encourages the understanding and use of technology in lieu of direct support staffing, which improves the quality of life for some individuals needing services. It also increases an individual’s safety and health and promotes independence.

The purpose of the “Tech Fest” is to provide individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, local service providers and community members the chance to explore assistive technology and remote support options that are available. Demonstrations of the technology and supports were presented by several vendors as well as video testimonials from individuals who are benefitting from the use of remote supports.

“Assistive technology increases the opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve greater independence in their daily lives,” said Valerie Huhn, director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. “These supports help protect the health and safety of people who really don’t need a caregiver for extended periods of the day.” Director Huhn shares more in a recent podcast.

Assistive technology refers to any item, device or equipment or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. This technology can be personal emergency response systems, medication reminders and dispensers, weight sensors, video and web cameras as well as other equipment.

Technology support exhibitors included Missouri Housing, StarResources, empower:abilities, 2GetherTech, and Hearo Technologies, Electronic Caregiver, Wolfner Library, Night Owl, SmartCare, Rest Assured, Missouri Assistive Technology, On My Own, and Numotion.

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Law Enforcement Officers from across Missouri gather to focus on Mental Health

5th Annual Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Conference in Columbia

[March, 18, 2019, COLUMBIA, MO] —The 5th Annual Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) conference was held today and continues tomorrow, Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at the Holiday Inn Expo Center in Columbia, MO. More than 600 law enforcement officers, first responders and behavioral health professional are at the event this year! Specific agenda information can be found here. The purpose of CIT is to address the challenges that often arise when law enforcement officers encounter individuals with behavioral health conditions in crisis situations.

“This conference brings law enforcement and behavioral health professionals together to determine better ways of serving those with serious mental illness or substance use disorders who come in contact with the criminal justice system,” said Det. Jason Klaus, CIT Council Coordinator. “It results in safer communities and better outcomes for our citizens and our law enforcement officers.”

The CIT program trains law enforcement to guide individuals to appropriate mental health services and offer support, instead of sending them directly to the criminal justice system. The 40-hour training covers mental illness, crisis response, active listening, tactical communication/de-escalation, and mental health law. CIT officers learn basic assessment skills for handling situations and are provided with knowledge of local behavioral health services. CIT training serves as both a jail diversion as well as a means to mental health assistance.

This annual conference is hosted by the Missouri Crisis Intervention Team (MO CIT) Council. CIT is most effective when everyone works together for the best outcome; law enforcement, behavioral health providers, community leaders and individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders and their families.

For more information about Missouri CIT contact Det. Jason Klaus at 573-768-6179 or e-mail JKlaus@mocoalition.org.

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Adair County Continues to Expand Opportunities to Citizens with Developmental Disabilities

DMH Purple Ribbon Award recognizes connecting individuals with disabilities to employment services.

[March 1, 2019, JEFFERSON CITY, MO] – The Adair County SB40 Developmental Disability Board received the Purple Ribbon Award today from leaders of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) for connecting more than 35 percent of the individuals it serves to employment services. Adair County SB40 supports individuals with developmental disabilities in Adair, Putnam, Schuyler, Scotland and Sullivan Counties.

The Purple Ribbon Award for Empowering Individuals through Employment is given by the DMH Division of Developmental Disabilities. Employment services, which includes career planning, job placement and workplace supports, enables Missourians with developmental disabilities to accomplish their career goals and meet the workforce needs within their communities. The Adair County SB40 Board received the Blue Ribbon Award in 2016, and is now the first organization in Missouri to achieve the Purple Ribbon status.

“Individuals with disabilities want jobs where their skills and strengths are recognized and valued,” said Division Director, Valerie Huhn. “Through partnerships with local Senate Bill 40 Boards, Targeted Case Management organizations, community providers, and area businesses, the state has built a committed team to help individuals gain the skills they need to work, earn money and connect with others to build a better life.”

Gaining access to employment services is often the first step to increased independence. Many times, services are only needed for a brief period of transition as the individual learns the duties of a job. Employment not only provides increased financial resources; it also helps build community connections and expands an individual’s social relationships. In the Kirksville area, businesses like Sodexo and the First Christian Church of Kirksville see the talents and benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities, making competitive employment an achievable goal.

Missouri is an Employment First state, meaning that all individuals who want to work can work, when given the opportunity to build upon their unique talents, skills and abilities.

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Missouri to become a Technology First State for individuals with disabilities

The Department of Mental Health initiative encourages the use of technology to help individuals with developmental disabilities be more independent.

[February 14, 2019, JEFFERSON CITY, MO] — Today, Mark Stringer, director of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) announced that Missouri is becoming a Technology First state. The DMH Division of Developmental Disabilities is moving forward with an initiative that encourages the understanding and use of technology in lieu of direct support staffing, which improves the quality of life for some individuals needing services. This initiative increases an individual’s safety and health and promotes independence.

A discussion and demonstration of the Technology First supports was presented during the monthly Mental Health Commission meeting. DMH staff, Commissioners and other meeting attendees heard from vendors of technology products as well as testimonials from individuals and families benefitting from remote supports.

“This assistive technology increases the opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve greater independence in their daily lives,” said Valerie Huhn, director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. “These supports help protect the health and safety of people who really don’t need a caregiver for extended periods of the day.”

Assistive technology refers to any item, device or equipment or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. This technology can be personal emergency response systems, medication reminders and dispensers, weight sensors, video and web cameras as well as other equipment.

Technology support exhibitors at the announcement included 2GetherTech, Smart Care, Hearo Technologies, Wolfner Library, ACT with University of Missouri, and Missouri Inclusive Housing Development Corporation.

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Missouri Ranks 4th in the Nation in Efforts to Serve Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The annual Care for Inclusion 2019 report ranks states on employment and community living.

[February 1, 2019, JEFFERSON CITY, MO] – Missouri has made significant strides to improve policies that help individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead more independent and productive lives. This determination propels the state to a 4th place ranking in a report compiled by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP).

“Making services for individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities a priority helps contribute to Missouri’s workforce development,” said Governor Parson. “Every Missourian should have the opportunity to live a full, productive life by participating in and contributing to their communities.”

The Case for Inclusion 2019 ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on how well state programs, primarily Medicaid, serve those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The states are ranked in five key areas critical to the inclusion, support, and empowerment of individuals with I/DD and their families: Promoting Independence; Promoting Productivity; Keeping Families Together; Serving Those in Need; and Tracking Health, Safety & Quality of Life.

Mark Stringer, Director of DMH said, “This national ranking is a great testament to the efforts of our department employees, our provider agencies, and local Senate Bill 40 boards, which continue to make a real, life-changing difference for thousands of Missourians and their families.”

While Missouri did make important improvements, Missouri, like other states, is still challenged with the number of people living in large, congregate settings and the number of individuals working in competitive employment, meaning they work alongside others without disabilities at a market-driven wage.

The full Case for Inclusion 2019 report, along with scorecards for each state and additional resources, can be downloaded at caseforinclusion.org.

About the ANCOR Foundation

The ANCOR Foundation exists to expand the commitment and capacity of providers and communities dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Foundation works to amplify the impact of service providers whose programs and resources empower people of all abilities to live independently, enjoy greater accessibility, and experience the self-confidence and self-satisfaction that comes with being an included and valued part of the community.

About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with 64 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For 70 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with its member affiliates, parents, and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal, and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 70 years and beyond.

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Missouri on Track to Become a Model Employer

Governor Parson announces Missouri’s selection for a federal program aimed at expanding employment and training opportunities for individuals with disabilities

[January, 31, 2019, JEFFERSON CITY, MO] – Governor Parson announced today that Missouri is on track to become a Model Employer state for individuals living with disabilities and has been selected for a mentorship program through the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to help achieve this goal. The Governor made the announcement during his visit to Paraquad, the leading disability services provider in the St. Louis region.

Paraquad is a nonprofit organization who works to empower people with disabilities to increase their independence through choice and opportunity. In 2017, Paraquad provided services to 2,323 individuals, including assisting over 500 individuals in obtaining a job or receiving the necessary support to succeed at a job.

“Paraquad has a long history of serving Missourians living with disabilities, and I’m thankful for their assistance in helping Missouri become a Model Employer,” said Governor Parson.

Missouri is on track to become a Model Employer later in 2019. This classification is an emerging trend developed by the National Governors Association to help more people with disabilities obtain competitive, integrated employment. State governments can commit to hiring more people with disabilities, and thereby become a “model employer” for private businesses and non-profits.

Missouri was recently selected as one of 11 states to participate in the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP). EFSLMP will support the development and implementation of Missouri as a Model Employer. This technical assistance program is run through the USDOL, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and is a cross-disability, cross-systems change initiative with a focus on developing a framework of aligning practices, policies, and structures, which promote increased employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

“Becoming a Model Employer is crucial to ensuring Missouri is doing everything possible to fully integrate Missourians living with disabilities into the workforce,” said Governor Parson. “I am pleased to hear that Missouri has been selected for this innovative program to make certain we are implementing all the best policies and practice to become a Model Employer.”

As part of the EFSLMP program, Missouri was chosen as a Vision Quest and Core state. As a Vision Quest state, Missouri will engage in a series of small working groups, consisting of three to four states per team, to focus on analyzing, developing and implementing policy recommendations related to implementation of Missouri as a Model Employer for individuals with disabilities. As a Core state, department representatives will work with national experts to build capacity to improve employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities.

Missouri’s teams consist of representatives from the Governor’s Office, Paraquad, Office of Administration, Department of Mental Health - Divisions of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Department of Social Services, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Economic Development – Workforce Development, Governor’s Council on Disability, Missouri DD Council, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

ODEP chose the following 11 states:

Vision Quest States: Missouri (State as a Model Employer). Additional states: Alabama (Mental Health and Employment); Colorado (Strategic Planning); District of Columbia (Mental Health and Employment); Kentucky (Strategic Planning); Louisiana (Mental Health and Employment); Michigan (Strategic Planning); Tennessee (Mental Health and Employment); and Utah (State as a Model Employer).

Core States: Missouri (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation). Additional states: Arkansas (Capacity Building); Iowa (Capacity Building); Louisiana (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation); Michigan (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation); Tennessee (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation); and Utah (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation)

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