In order to comply with the Olmstead Act, which requires states to eliminate unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities and ensure people with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting possible, New York State's Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) released a goal in 2013 of eliminating sheltered workshops in the next 10 years.
This means that many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including those who work in the Arc of Steuben's workshop, would be forced either to retire or find employment in the community. While the goals of integration and inclusion are supported by the Arc of Steuben, it seems counterproductive and cruel to tell people in the workshops across the state that they must leave the jobs they've worked for years and abandon the routines they're comfortable with and the friends they've made on the job.
Fortunately, State Senator Catharine Young agrees. Senator Young recently introduced the Employment First Choice Act. This would give people working in sheltered workshops the choice of whether to stay in the workshops or work toward community employment.
A big part of the Arc of Steuben's mission is giving people who receive services from us the ability to make choices about their own lives. If you support Senator Young's bill, please contact your local legislator and ask them to stand behind the Employment First Choice Act.
To contact State Senator Tom O'Mara, visit http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/thoms-f-omara. For Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, contact http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Phillip-A-Palmesano. Assemblyman Bill Nojay can be contaced at http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Bill-Nojay.
NYSARC, the statewide organization that the Arc of Steuben and other Arcs are members, has instituted a lobbying effort aimed at increasing funding for residential and day services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New York's Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget. Called "Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever", this initiative has received a great deal of support across the state.
It's not too late to tell your legislators and Gov. Cuomo to support this important initiatve. For more information about "Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever", visit www.nysarc.org and click on the "Families Cannot Be Caregivers Forever" icon on the left side of the site.
Mark Failing and Corey Krisher were named the Arc of Steuben's Instructors of the Month for February. Mark, a support specialist in Community Supports, and Corey, a production supervisor in the workshop, organized a Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention (SCIP) training after hours in order to accomomodate staff.
The Facilities-Based Vocational Team nominated the pair.
"Mark and Corey agreed to stay late to teach our class," the nomination letter said. "This meant that they could have to take on an additional training."
Mark and Corey made the extra effort to ensure the team got the training they needed while still fulfilling the team's other obligations.
"We really appreciate their exta effort because it was so beneficial to us to take this training as a team," the nomination letter said.
Also nominated for Instructor of the Month was Deb Burnham. Deb works as the Director of the Vocational and Transportation departments. She was nominated for her ability to organize and motivate others in training sessions.
Jodie Pierce was named the Arc of Steuben's Associate of the Month for February
Jodie, who works as the associate director of service coordination, was nominated for her assistance in a medical emergency at the home of an individual the Arc of Steuben serves.
During a home visit, the person did not answer his door. The same individual also refused services that day because he was not feeling well. This was the second consecutive day he had refused services.
"Upon talking with the individual, Jodie could tell that there was something wrong because of how well she knew him," said Holly Tucker in Jodie's nomination letter.
Jodie talked with the person and they decided he should go to the hospital. Holly stated that Jodie arranged for a staff member to take him and that after the individual went through many tests the doctor informed them that he would not have survived another week if he had not come for testing.
"Jodie helped save the life of an individual because of her dedication to knowing the people we serve," Holly said.
Also nominated for Associate of the Month was Rosemary Bennett, who wors as a vocational counselor. Rosemary was nominated for her ability to remain calm and keep a positive attitude in every situation.
The Arc of Steuben recognized the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) Taskforce as the Team of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of 2014. Taskforce members included Bernie Burns, Matt Mehlenbacher, Beckie Austin, Kriggy Porter, Lena Smith, Eric Buisch, Cindy Brown and Kayla Heisey.
The taskforce, which was established in September 2013, had been researching CQL accreditation and implementing strategies in order to reach various goals, said Jean Jensen, who nominated her fellow taskforce members for the award. The taskforce met twice a month and each member had to complete assignments for each meeting.
"There were nine teams comprised of more than 50 associates and self-advocates in total," Jean said.
Each taskforce member was responsible for a team. The taskforce developed the process for completing various goals and helped other team members with the completion of these tasks.
"This involved policy and procedure review, observation, interviews and the compiling of all information into a final report for accreditation," Jean's nomination letter said.
In the accreditation report, CQL representatives complimented the taskforce and the agency as a whole for not only its thoroughness but also the positive attitude with which associates approached the review.
"The organization saw this process not as a task but as a way not only to educate the organization, but also as a method of identifying areas for improvement," the final report from CQL said. "The organization did a remarkable job in completing this task and presenting the information to the CQL team."
Other teams nominated for Team of the Quarter were the StArcky U Relocation Team, the StArcky U Day Hab Team, the West Street Team and the Cafe Catering Team.
Matt Mehlenbacher has been named the Chief Operations Officer at the Arc of Steuben. He assumed this position after the retirement of Donna Pollard-White.
Matt has been with the agency since 1993, starting as a relief Direct Support Professional. Most recently, Matt has served as the agency's Quality Enhancement Director/Corporate Compliance Officer, a position he's held since 2006.
As Chief Operations Officer, Matt will ensure the agency is in compliance with federal, state and corporate regulations. He will also oversee the agency's Residential, Vocational, Transportation, Service Coordination/Industrial Supports and Community Supports Services departments.
"I look forward to the opportunity to work more closely with the various operation departments within the organization, as well as the chance to navigate through the many changes that are currently happening in our field," Matt said. "This is an exciting time in our field. I'm looking forward to the challenges and opportunites that lie ahead."
Bernie Burns, executive director of the Arc of Steuben, said Matt's longevity with the agency has given him a depth of organizational knowledge that will serve him well in his new position.
"Matt has honed his leadership skills through the years of experience and continued education," Bernie said. "He most recently completed the Corning Chamber of Commerce's leadership series and earned a Six Sigma green belt. In his capacity as Quality Enhancement Director he not only learned the ins and outs of compliance, but also how to focus on and achieve quality. Bottom line is that he is a people person with excellent leadership skills."
The Arc of Steuben has received accreditation from the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL). The accreditation runs through 2018.
CQL has been the preeminent organization for more than 40 years in defining, measuring and improving the quality of life for all people, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc of Steuben becomes the only human services agency within Steuben County to receive the CQL Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation. Only 28 agencies in New York State have received this prestigious accreditation.
The person-centered philosophy championed by CQL and embracede by the Arc of Steuben places the people receiving services in control. The programs and services they participate in are not dictated by what others think is best for them. With guidance from their Circle of Support, the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities make decisions based on their interests, passions, dreams and desires.
"Accreditation establishes a partnership with an organization with more than 40 years of leadership and peer-reviewed research focused on increasing people's quality of life," said Jean Jensen, the Arc of Steuben's Chief Strategy Officer.
As part of the accreditation process, the Arc of Steuben undertook a top-to-bottom evaluation to determine how well the agency conformed to CQL's standards for person-centeredness.
The agency also held a two-day intensive series of meetings that included members of the leadership team, associates from different departments throughout the agency, members of the board of directors and people who receive services from the organization. The group examined what the agency does well, areas it could improve and specific steps to enact these improvements.
Arc of Steuben Executive Director Bernie Burns said the evaluation techniques that were part of the CQL accreditation process give the Arc of Steuben another set of tools in the agency's quest for continuous improvement.
We at the Arc are committed to the people we support," Bernie said. "With the assistance of CQL, we now know how we can get better at what we do."
The Fall 2014 Newsletter is hot off the presses and full of information about what's been going on in our agency, including the 50th anniversary celebration, news about individuals served by the agency and recognition of the great job our associates do every day.
To view our latest newsletter, click on the link below.
We help them. Since 1964, Arc of Steuben has supported people with intellectual and developmental disabilities learn life skills, build careers for themselves and live as independently as possible.
We help them do more. We help you and your community with the businesses we operate. We provide Steuben County's largest network of public transportation. We match employers to talented employees.
We help people with developmental disabilities soar. When they soar, they help you soar.
The complete catalog for the Arc of Steuben’s Lending Library is now on the website. The library is searchable by category, with the categories listed on the page. You can also use the Search field to search by title, author, topic or type of media (book, cd, dvd, game, etc.).
To use the library catalog select the Resources menu above and click on Lending Library, or click here.
“ When I have questions regarding Bryan the associates are always very helpful and polite. ”