Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Fund ALL students who require special education – not 97%

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Click here for alert to legislators:
Investing in Student Potential action alert
  • Washington arbitrarily caps special education costs. If too many students in a community are enrolled, funding is cut off.
  • This short-changes students with disabilities who require individualized instruction and supports to access general education.
  • It also puts school districts in a bind: Federal law requires them to find and serve all children with disabilities. State budgeting practices pressure them to limit who is served.
  • 100% of qualifying students need their IEPs funded. 

What you can do:

  1. Contact your legislators. You can call the legislative hotline, 1-800-562-6000, or email them. You can find your legislators and their contact information here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/
  2. Ask them to end the cap on special education funding. They can do this by passing HB 2581 - Removing the special education enrollment limit for funding. Or by amending HB 2258 / SB 6117 – Special Education OSPI request
  3. Let them know that statewide enrollment in special education is only 12.56 percent of all students. We don’t have huge numbers, it’s just that our budgeting practices penalize small and rural communities and larger districts with more complex students. It’s not equitable and it’s not good for kids.

BACKGROUND: Special education helps children with disabilities overcome obstacles that keep them from learning, so they have a fair chance to succeed in school and thrive in adulthood. The individualized education and supports are required by federal law for all qualifying students with disabilities.

Each child’s individual education program (IEP) varies depending on what the student requires. Their IEP might include specialized instruction to improve reading and writing or other skills. Or it could include services like speech or occupational therapy, or a 1:1 aide

Depending on the child, and their unique needs, their special education program could be modest, or very expensive. Costs are dictated by what is required for students to access the general education provided all students.

SPECIAL EDUCATION IS BASIC EDUCATION: Under state law, special education is part of the state’s program of basic education, and costs must be covered by state and federal funds. In fact, schools are prohibited from using local or private funds to pay for any part of basic education.

The state allocates special education funds per qualifying student to school districts and other local education agencies; schools then draw from a local pool of funds to pay for all IEP services.

But to control costs, the state cuts off funding if a local education agency has too many students with disabilities. If local communities have more than 13.5 percent of students requiring special education, they get a smaller pool of funds to serve a more complex mix of students. Schools are forced to stretch dollars, or risk breaking the law by delaying or denying services. It also puts pressure on school districts not to identify all students with disabilities.

According the 2019-20 1220 Reports, even though special education enrollment is 137,295.04 FTE students, or 12.56% percent of all K-12 full-time student enrollment, the state only allocates for 133,081.15 students.

CALL TO ACTION: The state knows how many students need and qualify for special education but chooses to fund only some. This affects about 4,200 students, more than 130 local education agencies, and about $36 million* in lost funding. It is time to fully fund special education for all children who qualify for it.

The state needs to eliminate the funding cap and give all students with disabilities an equal opportunity to access education – no matter where they live or choose to enroll.

 

- Ramona Hattendorf, Director of Advocacy, The Arc of King County

*Funding loss is calculated based on an average special education allocation of $8,733 for the affected schools, the student count pulled from December 2019's 1220 Reports, and assumes a most inclusive setting. Actual allocations will vary by each LEA’s basic education allocation and whether students spend more or less than 80 percent of their school day in a regular classroom.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Support inclusion! We're hiring

We are looking for short-term help with child care, and we are recruiting for a full-time communications and advocacy support position.

If you care about inclusive communities, civil rights, and access to education, housing, and health care consider joining the advocacy team at The Arc of King County.

Child Care Support, Inclusion Academy


We are looking for three providers – a lead organizer and two assistants – to provide child-care to a group of children ages 2 and up while their parents are taking a class nearby; our targeted child to adult ratio is 5 to 1.

  • Must be great with kids
  • Have basic first-aid knowledge
  • Be willing to problem solve
  • Be willing to clean up small messes associated with group child-care
  • Must be able to commit to Inclusion Academy class dates (see job posting)
Interest in learning the curriculum for Special Olympics Young Athletes is a huge plus! Experience working with children with developmental delays or behavior supports is preferred.

This is a great opportunity to supplement your income with a short-term commitment. Work dates are Saturday mornings, February into early April.

Please see full child care job description for application details, work dates, and requirements.

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Advocacy and Communications Specialist



This is a great opportunity for someone with at least 2 to 5 years of experience in digital or print communications and/or event management who is interested in social change and disability equity. We work on issues ranging from early learning and education, to human services, Medicaid long-term supports, health care, civil rights, and housing stability.

The Advocacy and Communications Specialist helps people engage in public policy and provides administrative support for The Arc’s outreach department.

Duties include e-newsletters and social media management, data entry, and logistical support for advocacy events and initiatives. We welcome ideas for ways to engage with policy makers and advance disability and racial equity.

For consideration, applicants must submit a cover letter explaining their relationship to and interest in disability equity, along with 3 writing or design samples. Digital links to work are acceptable. Applications without cover letter and work samples will not be considered.

We welcome and value volunteer/unpaid experience. Individuals with disabilities, or parents and family members of people with I/DD are encouraged to apply.

Please see full advocacy and communications job description for application details and list of duties.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Advocacy Days 2020


The state legislative session starts January 13. Join us and participate in the public policy-making process.!

While most organizations go down once during a legislative session, The Arcs go down weekly to keep up a steady presence. The Arc of King County also participates in several coalitions and will be attending those advocacy days, as well. Below is a list of advocacy days that we will be supporting people at.
But first ...

Transportation:

If you need help getting down, please let us know.

We are offering shuttle service on February 5 and February 19. Registration is required.

  • Departing from Seattle (233 6th Avenue N) with additional pickup/drop off in Federal Way (across from the transit center). 
  • Shuttle leaves Seattle by 8:15 am; pick up in Federal Way around 9:00 am. 
  • Shuttle departs Olympia for a return trip at 2 pm, with a drop off in Federal Way around 3 pm and return to Seattle around 3:30 pm, depending on traffic. 
Please note: If a special event is happening (like a hearing on important legislation or a rally) we may alter the return time so people can participate in the event. Any change in schedule will be made and communicated before the departure date.

We can help arrange car pools on other days. If there is enough interest we may be able arrange for additional shuttles or van pools. We need a minimum of 5 riders for a van pool, and a minimum of 10 riders to book a shuttle; recruit your friends!

A friendly guide can make all the difference:

If you are getting yourself down to Olympia, we will meet you there! We can explain what is happening; help you learn about proposed legislation; help you draft a note for your legislators; and help you find their offices. If you want us to try to schedule an appointment, please note that when you register.

Food:

Remember to pack a lunch; there are also restaurants on the campus and nearby.

Appointments:

Don't go down to Olympia and not let your legislators know you were there!

This is a short session and appointments are already booking up. Plan to make your appointments at least 2 weeks ahead of time. If you need help setting up an appointment, let us know when you register for an advocacy day.

On the day of, if you don't have an appointment scheduled, be sure to at least drop off a note with each of your representatives and your senator.


ADVOCACY DAYS 2020

Times noted are for events in Olympia; they do not include travel time from the Seattle area.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Legislative Briefing and Reception, 2 pm to 7 pm.
Legislative briefing 2 pm to 4 pm at The United Churches, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501 (across from the state Capitol). Reception at 5:30 pm to 7 pm in the Columbia Room on the first floor in the Capitol building. Dinner on your own.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Investing in Student Potential Advocacy Day, 10 am to 3 pm.
If you prioritize special education, inclusive education, or K-12 funding this is the day for you! Please RSVP directly on the Investing in Student Potential web site: https://studentpotential.org/events/  They are automatically scheduling appointments for people who register.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Equity for Provider Wages & Community Residential Advocacy Day, coordinated by The Arc of Washington.
The days starts with a briefing at 10 am at The United Churches, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501. The rest of the day is open. We suggest you visit EACH of your representatives and your state senator. You may also want to sit in on a hearing, or tour the Capitol.

Monday, February 3, 2020
Washington Low Income Housing Alliance's Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day.  
The day starts at 8 am at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts at 512 Washington St SE, Olympia, WA 98501. Please register directly with the WLIHA: https://www.wliha.org/housing-and-homelessness-advocacy-day#Registration.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Good Paying Jobs for Self-Advocates, coordinated by The Arc of Washington.
ARC OF KING COUNTY SHUTTLE DAY - registration required if you want to ride the shuttle
The days starts with a briefing at 10 am at The United Churches, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501. The rest of the day is open. We suggest you visit EACH of your representatives and your state senator. You may also want to sit in on a hearing, or tour the Capitol.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Families in Crisis, coordinated by The Arc of Washington, with participation from Parent to Parent groups and the Washington Statewide Parent and Family Coalitions.
The days starts with a briefing at 10 am at The United Churches, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501. The rest of the day is open. We suggest you visit EACH of your representatives and your state senator. You may also want to sit in on a hearing, or tour the Capitol.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Caseload Forecasting for DDA Services, coordinated by The Arc of Washington.
ARC OF KING COUNTY SHUTTLE DAY - registration required if you want to ride the shuttle
The days starts with a briefing at 10 am at The United Churches, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501. The rest of the day is open. We suggest you visit EACH of your representatives and your state senator. You may also want to sit in on a hearing, or tour the Capitol.

Thursday, February 20, 2020
Early Learning Action Alliance Advocacy Day. 
Detailed information is not yet available (as of 12/13/2019)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Need More Money, coordinated by The Arc of Washington.
The days starts with a briefing at 10 am at The United Churches, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501. The rest of the day is open. We suggest you visit EACH of your representatives and your state senator. You may also want to sit in on a hearing, or tour the Capitol.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Workforce Shortage, coordinated by The Arc of Washington.
The days starts with a briefing at 10 am at The United Churches, 110 11th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501. The rest of the day is open. We suggest you visit EACH of your representatives and your state senator. You may also want to sit in on a hearing, or tour the Capitol.

More information:


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Ready, set ... legislative session!

3 things you can do to be present and speak up


Are you satisfied with services for people with developmental disabilities? With educational outcomes? With housing challenges?

One of the biggest barriers - maybe the biggest - with public services is that people without disabilities do not give a lot of thought to the needs of people with disabilities when it comes to policy and investments. So we end up with services that at best are challenging to access (DDA's No Paid Services list), and that all too often segregate out people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (public education) and so limit access. Or, they just don't align well with community need (Adult Family Homes, segregated developmental preschools).

One key thing disability advocates can do is introduce themselves to elected representatives. Tell your story. Help them understand that decisions they are making on the public's behalf are leaving people with disabilities behind.

Another is to review and assess proposed policy with a disability lens. Is it universally designed? Does it comply with civil rights? Will it help you, or hurt you?

Advocacy can be as simple as being present and giving feedback.

The state legislative session starts January 13. It is a short one (60 days), and there are already bills being drafted or proposed that affect people with disabilities. For instance, a big one from Senator Randall would forecast and fund long-term Medicaid services for people with I/DD as entitlement. That means if you qualify, you would get services. There are House and Senate bills in the works to expand early learning; at least one calls out the need to ensure any preschool expansion MUST include children with disabilities and factor in their support and access needs. (And, no, unfortunately that sort of thinking is not automatic).

If you want public policy to reflect and address your needs, you need to get into the mix.

There are lots of ways to engage, but to keep it simple, we're flagging three.

1. Attend an Engage! training. We have two set for January 11: Public Policy Basics, and Advocacy Tips and Tools. You can attend one, or both.

2. Attend our legislative overview, January 14, part of our ongoing education and outreach for the King County Parent and Family Coalition.

3. Go to Olympia. Attend a hearing; watch from the gallery. Stop by your elected leaders' offices. Leave messages. Let them know you are present. We are coordinating support for 10 advocacy days - seven I/DD-specific with The Arc of Washington, plus ones for early learning, K-12 education, and housing.
Using social media to learn and share is great. But change happens when people take action in the community.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Apply now! Inclusion Academy for preschool parents (and allies) is recruiting


How do we make early learning more inclusive?

Are you interested in promoting inclusive early learning and disability equity? Are you a parent (or ally) of children ages 2 to 5? Consider applying to The Inclusion Academy, a program of The Arc of King County, funded by Best Starts for Kids. Classes start in early February and conclude in April.

Our philosophy? Disability is a type of diversity, and whether children with disabilities or developmental delay reach their potential is linked to how society responds to and nurtures them. ... So let's change society.

ABOUT THE ACADEMY

The Arc of King County's Inclusion Academy is designed for parents (and allies!) of young children ages 2 to 5 navigating early learning. It is a Best Starts for Kids Innovation Fund pilot and a portfolio project of Frontiers of Innovation, the research and development arm of Harvard's Center on the Developing Child. The academy is grounded in the science of early childhood development and the research and legal basis for inclusive learning opportunities.

OUR GOAL: Give you the information you need to support and advocate for your child and the skills to pursue disability activism.

CLASS TOPICS:
  • Thriving: The developing brain and the role of stress, membership and belonging
  • Disability is diversity (longer class)
  • The legal and research basis for inclusion
  • The early learning landscape and your child's rights
  • Common barriers to inclusion
  • Family strategies: Setting a vision and mission (potluck lunch!)
  • School strategies: Differentiation, accommodations, and Universal Design for Learning
  • How change happens
  • Communication and negotiation (longer class)
  • Plus optional workshops on IEPs, collaborative problem solving, or other topics the class identifies
WHAT TO EXPECT: 
  • Phase 1 - Nine classes taken with fellow parents (and allies!) of young children who have disabilities or developmental delays.
  • Phase 2 - Projects to promote inclusion. You will be paired with a mentor and given a small stipend to apply what you learned by designing and implementing a project to promote inclusive early learning or disability equity.
  • Ongoing learning - At least 2 optional workshops to dive deeper into IEPs and collaborative problem solving, or other topics the cohort identifies

TIME COMMITMENT: Five to 8 months, depending on how long it takes to complete your project. Nine weeks will be spent in classes; the rest will be independent work.

COST: This class is free, thanks to a grant from King County's Best Starts for Kids. All participants will also get a small stipend to help offset costs for materials or travel related to their community projects.

Classes will launch in early February and wrap up in April. Three classes will run 9 am to 2:30 pm; the other six will run 9 am to noon. Child care will be available. Interpretation support available.

Classes for the winter cohort will be held at Ryther,


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A key Medicaid protection is at stake

Washington needs adequate reimbursement rates for direct support professionals. A proposed federal change could worsen access to the community

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RELATED: Fred and other patients with developmental disabilities languish in local hospitals
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The following was shared from The Arc of the United States:


Every day, Medicaid supports millions of people with disabilities to live independently in their community.

However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing to significantly weaken a rule that makes sure that Medicaid reimbursement rates are enough to allow people to access services and supports that they need.

Background:

If reimbursement rates are below costs, providers will not want to participate or will not be able to provide high quality services. This means that people will not be served or will be put on waiting lists. Inadequate reimbursement rates can also mean low wages and high turnover rates for direct support professionals (DSPs). The work of DSPs is invaluable to the disability community and the service system that relies on their abilities to keep people out of institutions.


We must tell CMS that it should expand and improve - not weaken - the current rule, so that no one will have to go without services and supports. CMS needs to hear from individuals with disabilities, parents, family members, advocates, and service providers that this is a critical issue!

There is still time to send a message to CMS. They will be accepting comments until September 13. That means we only have two days to send in as many comments as possible to stop the rule from being implemented and ask CMS to strengthen the existing rule.

Fill in your information here and you will be brought to a page with draft comments that you can personalize and submit directly to CMS.

Thank you for your advocacy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Parents (and allies!) of children 2 to 5: This course is for you

How do we make early learning more inclusive?

Are you interested in promoting inclusive early learning and disability equity? Are you a parent (or ally) of children ages 2 to 5? Consider applying to The Inclusion Academy, a program of The Arc of King County, funded by Best Starts for Kids. Classes start September 14 and run 9 weeks.

Our philosophy? Disability is a type of diversity, and whether children with disabilities or developmental delay reach their potential is linked to how society responds to and nurtures them. So let's change society.

 

ABOUT THE ACADEMY

The Arc of King County's Inclusion Academy is designed for parents (and allies!) of young children ages 2 to 5 navigating early learning. It is a Best Starts for Kids Innovation Fund pilot and a portfolio project of Frontiers of Innovation, the research and development arm of Harvard's Center on the Developing Child. The academy is grounded in the science of early childhood development and the research and legal basis for inclusive learning opportunities.

OUR GOAL: Give you the information you need to support and advocate for your child AND the skills to pursue disability activism.

CLASS TOPICS:
  • The developing brain & the early learning landscape
  • Disability is diversity
  • Inclusion 101
  • Setting a vision and mission
  • Behavior is communication, and social and emotional learning
  • Universal Design for Learning
  • Your child’s rights
  • How change happens
  • Tactics to implement your vision
WHAT TO EXPECT: Nine classes taken with fellow parents (and allies!) of young children who have disabilities or developmental delays. Once you have the foundational knowledge you will be paired with a mentor to apply what you learned by designing and implementing a project to promote inclusive early learning or disability equity.

TIME COMMITMENT: Five to 8 months, depending on how long it takes to complete your project. Nine weeks will be spent in classes, the rest will be independent work.

COST: This class is free, thanks to a grant from King County's Best Starts for Kids. All participants will also get a small stipend to help offset costs for materials or travel related to their community projects.

Classes will launch September 14, 2019, and run weekly to November 9, 2019. The first and last classes are tentatively set to run 9 am to 2:30 pm; the other seven will run 9 am to noon. Child care will be available.

The location is not yet final but we are hoping to launch in Seattle.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

We're hiring! Early Learning Project Coordinator

Project Coordinator/ Early Learning Initiatives 

Wanted: Individual passionate about inclusive early learning, disability equity, and working with parents and allies to develop their leadership potential. If you want to spark passion to help young children with disabilities thrive, please send resume and cover letter to Ramona Hattendorf, Director of Advocacy, The Arc of King County, at rhattendorf@arcofkingcounty.org  

This position will primarily support The Inclusion Academy, a leadership program that empowers parents and allies to expand and create inclusive early learning opportunities and promote disability equity.
SKILLS REQUIRED: Must be good with logistics and communications and have strong facilitation skills; these include:
  • Be welcoming and able to encourage open communication
  • Ask questions that prompt critical thinking
  • Build rapport among participants
  • Record and organize comments to help participants reflect and assess what has been shared
The Inclusion Academy is a Best Starts for Kids (BSK) Innovation Fund pilot and is supported by Frontiers of Innovation, the research and development arm of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. The academy includes 9 classes, 2 supplemental events, and a mentored community project, per cohort.

Class topics include:
  • The developing brain & the early learning landscape
  • Disability is diversity
  • Inclusion 101
  • Setting a vision and mission
  • Behavior is communication, and social and emotional learning
  • Universal Design for Learning
  • Your child’s rights
  • How change happens
  • Tactics to implement your vision.
Each class will have at least 2 facilitators. Built-in technical support is available. The project coordinator is not expected to have subject expertise, but should have relevant life experience. Being a parent counts! 




Friday, July 26, 2019

Free! Mental health referral service for children and teens


Washington’s Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens connects families with mental health providers who have openings in their schedule and can meet your child’s needs. We link you to providers in your local area who fit your child’s specialty needs and insurance coverage. Washington state funds the free referral service and Seattle Children’s operates it.

Any Washington family can use this free service. We make referrals for children and teens 17 and younger from across Washington. We connect families with evidence-supported outpatient mental health services in their community.

How to Use the Mental Health Referral Service

  • Have your insurance card handy and helpful information about your child’s diagnosis.
  • Call 833-303-5437 Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm.
  • Or, complete an online request and a referral specialist will call you.
  • We will ask about your child’s mental health needs, health insurance plan and where you live.
  • Then, we will research mental health providers in your area to find 1 or 2 that meet your family’s need and have openings. This process can take longer than a week. We will give you details on how to contact the providers we recommend.
  • We will also send the referral suggestions to your primary care provider.
  • A few weeks after that, we’ll follow up to make sure your child is getting the care they need. If you do not have an appointment yet, we will talk about any problems you are having. If needed, we will link you with another provider.
  • Providers, learn more about the service.
Learn about mental health resources such as useful links, videos and recommended reading for you and your family.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Drop-in forum for affordable housing in King County


Do you care about affordable housing and homelessness prevention?

King County is setting priorities for how to spend approximately $9 million in Community Planning Development federal funds from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Funds may be used for a wide range of activities in support of low and moderate-income people in King County and living outside of Seattle.

The King County will be hosting a community forum Saturday, June 29, to speak with residents about their priorities, gather input and take public comment on the draft plan. King County and city partner representatives will be onsite for conversations during the stated times; there is no formal program planned.

Everyone is welcome!
Tukwila Library, June 29, 2019, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, 14380 Tukwila International Blvd, Tukwila.

You can find more information here.

Questions? Contact:

Madeline Cavazos, Policy Analyst and Community Liaison, King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. 206-477-7774, Madeline.cavazos@kingcounty.gov