Meeting Minutes - September 21, 2015 |

Charles County, Maryland

Meeting Minutes - September 21, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015




Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m. by Emily Ferren, Chair.

  • In attendance:  Emily Ferren, Jeff Barnett, Nicky Pires, John Lewis, Brasilia Lowe, Jeff Mathews, and Joane Gulvas
  • Guests: Carol Beatty, Amy Blandford, Dwayne Ross, Camellia Woodea, Chaplain Graham
  • Excused: Jim Howard, Sandra Dent, Tonya-Kay Speers, Michelle Fowler, Charlie Patterson

     Commissioner President Peter Murphy welcomed our guest Carol Beatty, Secretary of Disabilities for the State of Maryland. Introductions were made for those present.

     Carol gave us a brief background prior to becoming Secretary of Disabilities. Her experience is with individuals that have intellectual and developmental disabilities and served as a house parent. Her background includes journalism, film, and history.

Carol has worked at the ARC in Baltimore and also at the ARC in Howard County. She has been in her new position as Secretary of Disabilities for 6 months. The position is a cabinet level agency that began in 2004 to set public policy issues and work with other

state agencies. The agency serves as a conduit for best practices and develops a three year state disability plan. There are 34 staff members in 2 locations (in Baltimore City on Redwood St. and at the Technology Assistance Program on Argonne Drive in Baltimore).

Two important pieces of legislation are impacting the lives of people with disabilities. The first is the ABLE Act or Achieving a Better Life Experience. The Act focuses on Down's syndrome, Autism, and ARC participants. The concept is to establish a special

needs trust without needing a lawyer. If you are receiving SSI or SDI, you are automatically eligible. The savings plan allows individuals to put away money to use on qualified disability expenses. The 503 program is similar to a college savings plan.

A Task Force is planning the ABLE program. The Task Force in Maryland started in June 2015 and will have a report by December 2015. Two sponsors for the legislation serve on the 12 member Task Force. Tonight (September 21, 2015) is the 5th meeting

of the Task Force. Minutes are available on the website of  Parents of school age children are very interested in the outcomes of the Task Force.

     The Ethan Saylor Alliance for Self-Educators formed after a death in Frederick, Maryland in the winter of 2013. It involved the death of a disabled adult in a theater. Training guidelines are now provided for new police cadets by self-advocates at each training.

An RFP came from the Steering Committee 2 weeks ago to provide additional trainers throughout the State of Maryland.

     The Technology Assistance Program located on Argonne Drive in Baltimore provides statewide technical assistance for individuals with disabilities at their job or in their home. The program also provides training workshops and seminars for competitive,

integrated employment.

     Public education is a key piece for each Commission on Individuals with Disabilities. A statewide Alliance of all Commissions in Maryland meets on a quarterly basis to provide resources and support.

     Carol announced a Transportation Summit to be held at the National Federation of the Blind at the end of October. Other initiatives include the Maryland Partnership for affordable housing with affordable, accessible housing. A program in Salisbury, Maryland

is supported by the Harry and Janet Weinberg Foundation. The State Disability Plan, completed in 2004, covers 9 different areas. The major areas are employment, housing, transportation and technology. Other areas include reaching out to businesses. The state has produced a video to include inclusiveness for employers. Another concern is recreational options after work hours--arts, sports, and socialization.

     With transportation being a major area, 55% of the trips in Charles County are to a dialysis center.

     The Department of Disabilities has a contingency office team to respond to concerns and questions. Promise grants have been developed to provide internships for 14-16 year olds for 2,000 students. A research study demonstrates that when enhanced services are provided, there are better educational outcomes. Examples of enhanced services are case management for youth and their families, benefits counseling, and a holistic approach to working with families. A Promise Day is being held on October 3rd to recognize employers.

     Training at each Commission meeting was suggested, along with invitations to other agencies such as Parks and Recreation.

     Carol thanked the group for their participation in today's discussion and encouraged us to get updates on the state website:

     A motion was made by Jeff Mathews and seconded by Brasilia Lowe to approved the August 17, 2015 meeting minutes. The motion passed unanimously.

     Nominations were made for the following Officer positions:

          Chair: Emily Ferren

          Vice Chair: John Lewis

          Secretary: Jeff Mathews

The vote was unanimous. The elected positions serve for one year. The terms begin on October 1, 2015.

The remaining dates for year 2015 CIWD meetings were presented as follows:

October 19, November 16 and December 21

Meeting adjourned: 4:10 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,


Emily Ferren, Acting Secretary