Saturday, May 18, 2024
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Services are Available for those with Special Needs

by KAREN LAGRANGE COX

Last evening, Louisiana State Representative Rhonda Butler of District 38 held the first Special Needs Advocacy Community Group meeting in Evangeline Parish. The meeting was held at her office outside Ville Platte, Louisiana, for parents of children and adults with special needs.

Parents gathered to hear from Troy Abshire of the Acadiana Area Human Services District (AAHSD) about services available to help individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in Region IV. Region IV includes the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, and Vermillion.

AAHSD, once called Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD), is the single point of entry for receiving services.

Services for those with developmental disabilities include special waivers for community-home-based services and residency in out-of-home facilities, such as an Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally Disabled (ICFs/DD).

To learn more about AAHSD’s services, call (337) 262-5610.

Kim Lanclos-Smith stated those with disabilities may be at greater risk of being abused and/or neglected by their caregivers. She was at the meeting to advise a task force will be set up to focus on preventing persons with developmental disabilities from being abused or neglected by their caregivers.

Butler, who herself has an adult child with special needs receiving services as a resident of an out-of-home facility, was instrumental in sponsoring House Resolution 173 during the 2023 Louisiana Legislature Regular Session, directing the Louisiana Department of Health to collect statistics and information on reported abuse and neglect cases in specific Medicaid programs. The data will be used to plan a strategy for tackling abuse and neglect to prevent suffering from happening to our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

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Included in HR 173, “The existing rules promulgated to address the reporting of claims of abuse and neglect for the state’s Medicaid program of residents and clients of Medicaid providers of HCBS (Home and Community-Based Services), ICF-DD (Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmental Disabled), and ADHC (Adult Day Health Care).”

Also discussed at the meeting were a Resource Center and a Respite, Entertainment, Care (REC) center to be built on donated land in Mamou, Louisiana. In addition to providing care, the REC center will help bring in jobs.

Services through AAHSD include:

The information below is from AAHSD:

FLEXIBLE FAMILY FUND: Flexible Family Fund provides a monthly stipend to families of eligible children with severe or profound developmental disabilities from birth to age 18. Funds are intended to help families meet the extraordinary costs associated with maintaining their child in the home. Stipends are awarded to eligible children on a first come, first serve basis.

INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY SUPPORT:
 This program provides resources to people with developmental disabilities to allow them to live in their own homes or with their families in their own communities. Requests are prioritized based upon level and immediacy of need. Individual and Family Support services include, but are not limited: respite care, personal assistance services, specialized clothing, dental and medical services not covered by other sources, specialized equipment and services such as communications services, crisis intervention, and family education. AAHSD administers the program through state general funds to provide supports that are not available from any other sources. The availability of funding for supports is contingent on the availability of funding from state general funds.

SUPPORT COORDINATION: AAHSD Community Support Professionals may provide support coordination services to individuals and their families by:

  • Providing information about supports and services available, through AAHSD and other community services;
  • Making applicable referrals to other community services;
  • Assessing the need for supports and services and developing an individualized Plan of Support which identifies formal and natural supports
  • Providing ongoing coordination and monitoring of the person’s support plan.

SUPPORTED LIVING: Supported Living services are intended to assist a person in the performance of daily living skills. The person’s needs are identified through the Person-Centered Planning Process and include, but are not limited to, training/assistance in the performance of daily living skills.

SCHOOL TRANSITION SERVICES: Information and referral for individuals who are transitioning from school to work.

RESIDENTIAL:
 Intermediate Care Facilities for people with Developmental Disabilities (ICF/DD) provide a broad range of residential services such as community homes, group homes, small or large institutions. AAHSD is the Single Point of Entry for all requests for ICF/DD placement (public and private) in the region. (OCDD operates one public supports and services center which is a large facility).

EARLY STEPS: Provides services to families with infants and toddlers aged birth to three years (36 months) who have a medical condition likely to result in a developmental delay, or who have developmental delays. Children with delays in cognitive, motor, vision, hearing, communication, social-emotional or adaptive development may be eligible for services. These services are designed to improve the family’s capacity to enhance their child’s development and improve the natural environment such as the child’s home, child care or any other community setting typical for children aged birth to 3 years (36 months). Anyone can make an Early Steps referral by contacting the System Point of Entry, which for the Region 4 service area is 1-866-494-8900, or, 337-359-8748. Referrals are also processed via email at referral@firststeps3.com or faxed to 337-359-8747.

ENTRY: AAHSD serves as the Single Point of Entry for people with developmental disabilities who are seeking supports or services through Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals. It is our intention to make the application process friendly, informative, and focused on meeting your needs and desires. To apply for entry into the system or to get additional information regarding developmental disabilities services, please contact AAHSD.

WAIVER SERVICES: Medicaid home and community-based waiver programs allow people greater flexibility to choose where they want to live and to use services and supports that best suit their needs. Services represent a least-restrictive treatment alternative. Each home and community-based waiver has specific service packages and eligibility requirements. Waiver opportunities are dependent upon funding, and are also offered based on the individual’s need and priority level from their Screening for Urgency of Need (SUN) through the Request for Services Registry.

Tiered Waiver: Through an innovative approach to providing services to people with developmental disabilities, the Louisiana Department of Health is effectively ending the 25-year-old waiting list for specialized home and community-based services. This new plan prioritizes the needs of people instead of the date they applied for services.

The new plan, or Tiered Waiver, means that individuals with a greater urgency of need will now be prioritized for receiving the most appropriate home and community-based services. Over two years ago, LDH’s Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities began a screening process to evaluate the needs of the more than 10,000 individuals who were on a waiting list for services. As of today, all of the people on this waiting list who have an urgent or emergent need for waiver services have received a waiver opportunity.

The Following Waiver Services are offered:

  • Children’s Choice Waiver offers supplemental support to children through age 18 who currently live at home with their families or with a foster family.
  • New Opportunities Waiver offers people age 3 and older who otherwise would require the level of care of an Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally Disabled (ICFs/DD) services that allow them to remain in their communities. Services are based on the need of the recipient and are developed using a person-centered process to formulate an individualized plan.
  • Residential Options Waiver offers people of all ages services designed to support them to move from ICFs/DD and nursing facilities to community-based settings, and to serve as an alternative to institutionalization.
  • Supports Waiver offers focused, individualized vocational services to people age 18 and older who otherwise would require the level of care of an Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally Disabled (ICFs/DD).

Contact AAHSD at (337) 262-5610 to apply or learn more about these services.

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