UCP Applauds the Decision to Release Rosa Maria Hernandez into the Custody of Her Family

UCP applauds the decision from the Department of Health and Human Services to release Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10 year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy held in federal custody by immigration authorities, to her family on November 4th. Rosa Maria was stopped at border checkpoint on her way to emergency gallbladder surgery on October 24th in Corpus Christi, TX. She was then held in custody at the Office of Refugee Resettlement in a facility for children in San Antonio, TX. Rosa Maria was brought to the United States at 3 months old by her parents, and has remained in their care since. According to news reports, Rosa Maria was released on Friday into the custody of her parents. Her release comes after a lawsuit lead by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the U.S. government to have her reunited with her family.

For people with disabilities and their families, having access to medical care and support networks, especially in the case of complex medical needs is vital. We are happy and thankful to know that Rosa Maria can be with her family to heal, recover, and get the care that she needs.

UCP Welcomes United Community Options of South Florida to the UCP Affiliate Network

UCP would like to welcome United Community Options of South Florida (formerly known as UCP of South Florida) to the UCP Affiliate ​Network! United Community Options of South Florida was formed in 1947 by a group of parents in Miami who came together to look for services for their children with cerebral palsy.

United Community Options of South Florida oversees UCO of Miami, UCO of Broward, Palm Beach and Mid Coast Counties and Miami Cerebral Palsy Residential Services Inc.  United Community Options of South Florida provides a wide variety of supports and services including programs for adults and children with disabilities as well as typically developing children and adolescents. Programs provided include: Schools (private, charter, summer, afterschool), Residential services (group homes and ICF/IID), Supported Living, Supported Employment, Adult Day Services, Therapies, and much more.

In 2016, the organization formally became United Community Options of South Florida. We are proud to welcome back as an affiliate the rich heritage of UCO and their roots in UCP.

UCP Expresses Concern On The Detainment of Rosa Maria Hernandez

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY EXPRESSES CONCERN ON THE DETAINMENT OF ROSA MARIA HERNANDEZ

For Inquires: Kaitlyn Meuser, kmeuser@ucp.org, (202)-973-7185

Armando Contreras, President and CEO, acontreras@ucp.org

Washington, D.C. (October 27, 2017) — United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) would like to express substantial concerns about the condition and treatment of Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10-year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy, who was detained by federal immigration authorities on the way to emergency gall bladder surgery in Corpus Christi, Texas. After discharge from the hospital, authorities placed her in a facility for undocumented children in San Antonio. Various news outlets note that her doctors have recommended that she be released to family members who can care for her.

We strongly urge authorities to allow this young girl with Cerebral Palsy to be with her family and receive needed care so that she can fully recover from her surgery. Children with disabilities are among society’s most vulnerable and often have challenging health care and social support needs. UCP believes in providing those children with appropriate and high-quality care to address emergencies, help manage complex conditions and ongoing needs, and ensure a positive quality of life – a “life without limits.”

In this case, immigration-related issues have presented barriers to the child’s care, and we hope that authorities find a way to ensure she does not remain separated from her family and with compromised access to health care needed for her recovery.  Furthermore, as policymakers in Congress and the Administration consider approaches to address immigration-related issues, including those related to the immigration status of children, we urge them to take into account the complex health care needs of special needs children like Rosa Maria and the potential situations like this one that could arise.

Through our nearly 70-member strong affiliate network across the United States and Canada, UCP’s affiliates help to provide a variety of services and supports to people with disabilities and their families who come from a wide range of backgrounds and communities.

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About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) 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 nearly 70 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 more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with 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 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

UCP Expresses Concerns About Graham-Cassidy Legislation



As Members of Congress continue to discuss ways to improve the healthcare system in bipartisan hearings, United Cerebral Palsy expresses concerns about the Graham-Cassidy legislation being considered by some Senate Republicans.


The health care needs of individuals living with cerebral palsy and people with other forms of disability are complex, intensive, and diverse. Providers in the UCP affiliate network bring substantial value to the health care system through their approaches to the care of individuals with disabilities, including by offering important services in partnership with state Medicaid programs. Their innovative service models and practices, research, and use of technology have significantly improved access, community integration, and long-term outcomes for 176,000 clients served nationwide.

Capping and reducing spending for Medicaid, a primary source of funding for disability health services, could compromise needed care such as habilitation and rehabilitation services and also affect the ability of individuals with disabilities to thrive in their communities, including through greater use of long-term services and supports (LTSS). More broadly, such action undermines the innovation in care delivery that ensures that we all live lives without limits. And, this does not sustain the vision that forged United Cerebral Palsy back in 1949 as an organization dedicated to finding better alternatives to institutionalization for children living with cerebral palsy.

In the days ahead, we will be sharing our concerns with Senate offices and hope you will join us in opposing this bill that would impede the ability of our affiliate network to care for people with disabilities. United Cerebral Palsy is a part of major national coalitions focused on the preservation of coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, continued coverage for rehabilitative and habilitative services, and protecting Medicaid. In short, we are not alone in our concerns and we will continue to work together to support the needs of individuals with disabilities and the providers who serve them.


Senators need to hear from constituents, and we hope you will tell your story. To learn more about UCP’s public policy work and to get involved, please visit http://ucp.org/what-we-do/public-policy/.

Share Your Video for World CP Day!

“What do you want the world to know about CP?”

In honor of World CP Day 2017, UCP wants you to tell the world what you want to know about Cerebral Palsy (CP)! All you have to do is send us a short (less than a minute) video telling us what you’d like the world to know about CP and your video could be featured as part of video celebrating World CP Day on October 6th. 

 

For questions, and to submit your video, please email UCP National’s Marketing Specialist, Kaitlyn Meuser at kmeuser@ucp.org. 

United Cerebral Palsy Statement on Hurricane Harvey

We share the feelings of so many health and human service organizations across the U.S. who are watching the storm and recovery efforts underway in Southeast Texas.

We are thinking of all the families and communities who have been impacted by the storm. We know, from experience, that a storm of this magnitude can produce unimaginable destruction– and may compromise the safety of people living with disabilities.

United Cerebral Palsy affiliates in Oklahoma and Louisiana are actively engaged in the recovery efforts underway and may assist as called upon. We are also monitoring the storm and the possible impact it may have for our affiliates in Louisiana and other neighboring areas. UCP affiliates work diligently on disaster preparedness plans to ensure that the individuals and families in their care, across the U.S. and Canada, are always kept safe in any type of emergency and UCP National supports their efforts.

For information regarding the status of Harvey, please visit HHS’ Public Health Emergency website: https://www.phe.gov/emergency/events/harvey2017/Pages/default.aspx

Residents in the Houston area may also find resources at the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities: http://www.houstontx.gov/disabilities/

To ensure that you. your family and your loved ones are prepared in the event of a natural disaster, we recommend our blog post at My Life Without Limits: http://mylifewithoutlimits.org/disaster-preparedness-month-tips-and-tricks-to-help-you-live-a-life-without-limits/

FEMA‘s resources for people with disabilities, access, and functional needs: www.fema.gov/resources-people-disabilities-access-functional-needs

Additional preparedness tips and resources can be found on UCP’s website at: http://ucp.org/resources/health-and-wellness/safety/disaster-preparedness/

 

ADA Education and Reform Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a historic piece of civil rights legislation for  individuals with disabilities, was passed 27 years ago this week. Since that time, individuals with disabilities have been able to seek enforcement of the law to ensure that they have access to public spaces.

 

The ADA helps to curb the discrimination faced by people with disabilities but Congress is currently considering the ADA Education and Reform Act, a bill that would change the ADA: granting more leniency to businesses, and prolonging the process of remedying ADA failures by these businesses. The bill is controversial and many advocates for people with disabilities are speaking up against it.

 

Supporters of the bill seek to remedy the issue of “drive by” lawsuits, a term used to describe when a person goes to a business for the singular purpose of filing a lawsuit under the ADA. These lawsuits are seen by many as solely efforts of financial gain at the expense of businesses, instead of efforts to resolve legitimate barriers to access for individuals with disabilities. While the existence of such lawsuits is problematic, there is no consensus on the best way to address this issue.

 

The bill would allow business owners a “pause in litigation,” giving them 60 days to acknowledge their violation of the ADA, and then another 120 days to make “substantial progress” towards remedying the issue. The bill, currently being considered in the house, has 14 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Although not an issue that is divisive along party lines, the bill does not draw universal support because of its civil rights and practical implications.

 

While the supporters of the bill seek to protect businesses, its opponents strive to protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. The ADA has been recognized as a crucial step towards inclusion and civil rights for individuals with disabilities, and its importance for individuals with disabilities cannot be overstated. It would be reasonable to assume that individuals with disabilities would support legislation which strengthened the ADA—the very legislation that guarantees them civil rights. Yet, individuals in the disability community and their advocates are opposed to the poorly-named ADA Education and Reform Act.

 

As a reminder, the ADA does not require the payment of monetary damages to individuals with disabilities when a violation occurs. Rather, it is a handful of states that have laws which allow monetary damages, which is how “drive by” lawsuits became profitable for plaintiffs in those states.

 

This proposed law would amend the ADA by requiring an individual with a disability to submit a special notice to the business. The individual would have to consult a legal adviser to craft the notice, and include the specific sections of the ADA that are being violated. Thus, the burden rests on the individual with the disability, once they are denied access to a public accommodation, to have extensive knowledge of the ADA and to seek legal counsel to provide this special notice to the business.

 

Once the notice has been provided to a business, the business has nearly six months to make any progress regarding the violation, even when the issue would not take much time or money to fix. This is the case with ADA concerns, because the ADA already contains provisions which protect businesses, only requiring that changes be made when they are readily achievable and can be done “without much difficulty or expense.” Even then, there exist extensive resources for business owners to make these changes, including a Department of Justice ADA hotline and website, and ten federally funded ADA centers which provide resources and training in every state.

 

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (of which UCP is a member) opposes the bill: 

“We know of no other law that outlaws discrimination but permits entities to discriminate with impunity until victims experience that discrimination and educate the entities perpetrating it about their obligations not to discriminate. Such a regime is absurd, and would make people with disabilities second-class citizens.”

 

In short, this bill is an inefficient means to address the issue of “drive by” lawsuits, and creates substantial barriers to the enforcement of the civil rights of the world’s largest minority group, individuals with disabilities.  

 

National Disability Voter Registration Week

Compared to other highly-developed nations around the world, the United States has about 20%-30% fewer registered voters of citizens who are legally eligible to vote. This number might not seem like a lot. However, the importance of voting cannot be minimized, especially for people with disabilities. That is why next week, July 17th through the 21st, is National Disability Voter Registration Week.

Voting gives citizens a voice in their local, state, and federal-level politics. As a constituent, their voice can make a difference. The greater the turnout, the more truly representative our government becomes. This is because voting empowers citizens to communicate their opinions and have the opportunity to influence all levels of government.

While the 19th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act secured voting rights for many historically disadvantaged voters, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 established the requirement of polling centers to have features that make voting areas accessible for citizens with disabilities. More recently, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), includes a provision that aims to further ensure that polling places as well as the registration process are universally accessible, whether accessed online or in person. HAVA also ensures that balloting equipment is accessible to everyone, and directs election administrators to train those who work at the polls on how to adequately and efficiently assist voters.

But, why is voting so crucial? It gives citizens a chance to express how they feel about a variety of issues. Whether it is a social issue, or a matter concerning the economy, casting a vote communicates constituents’ priorities to their elected representatives. Accordingly, representatives vote on legislation that matters to their constituents. Essentially, a democracy does not exist without the vote of the people.

Most people believe that the presidential election is the most important election to vote in. Despite that, votes can greatly influence politics at a state and especially at a local level. State and local policy issues are also usually the ones that impact us the most as a community.

As important as it is to vote, one must register first. Registering is a process that is simple for many, but accessibility is still too often a barrier for people with disabilities. The week of July 17-21 is National Disability Voter Registration Week 2017. To learn more and to host a voter registration event, find more information here.

The Disability Integration Act (DIA) of 2017

It has been nearly 20 years since the Supreme Court ruled that individuals with disabilities have the right to live in the community, but even today, not all people with disabilities in the United States are given that meaningful option.

A new bill, The Disability Integration Act (DIA) of 2017, was introduced by Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY) in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to combat this issue. This bill would ensure that states are providing long-term services and support (LTSS) to individuals with disabilities In community-based settings, such as the individual’s own home. It also further enforces the American with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) mandate on integration.

Alongside the ADA, court cases, such as Olmstead v. L.C. (1999), have set the precedent for this legislation. The Olmstead ruling states that under the ADA, if placement in a community-based setting is appropriate, and the individual would prefer to live there, the state must comply with their wishes and fulfill those accommodations as those are their civil rights. The Disability Integration Act would help to make certain that every state is securing these rights in a timely manner, and that states are upholding the many details of this ruling.

The Olmstead ruling clarifies that “institutionalization is unjustified when:”

Supporters of the DIA legislation seek to provide a life that is as independent as possible for those individuals who can “handle and benefit” from the choice of living in a community-based living situation. This would allow individuals with a disability to have access to their greater community and have the opportunity to participate in economic, social, and educational advancement. 

The most frequent options for living independently are based on benefits provided by Medicaid. The funds provided to individuals through Medicaid afford individuals the ability to pay for their community-based services, such as personal care assistants, without having to worry about how they are going to pay for housing, utilities, or other additional necessities.

The DIA bill would further reinforce the integration mandate under the ADA, by ensuring that every individual that qualifies for LTSS has a “federally protected right” to become integrated into an community, and would create an extensive “state planning requirement” that imposes objectives to help transition individuals out of institutions. Furthermore, there is a requirement for states to annually publish a public report about the number of individuals with disabilities who continue to be served in institutions versus in their communities, as well as the number of individuals who have made the transition.

 

To learn more about the Disability Integration Act and other public policy topics, and to get more involved, check out our public policy resources.

UCP National Names Armando A. Contreras As The Next President & CEO

Contacts: Diane Wilush
 Richard Forkosh



 
 UCP National Names Armando A. Contreras As The Next President & CEO (Washington, DC) – United Cerebral Palsy, Inc., (UCP) the leading national organization which advocates and promotes the inclusion and full citizenship of individuals living with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, announced today that its Board of Trustees has named Armando A. Contreras as President and CEO effective June 5, 2017. Contreras is currently the CEO of UCP of Central Arizona and will replace Richard Forkosh, who is currently serving as UCP Inc., Interim CEO.“We are delighted to have Armando join UCP as the new President and CEO,” said Diane Wilush, Chairman of UCP National’s Board of Trustees. “The selection process was rigorous, and Armando is the perfect choice; his leadership at UCP of Central Arizona and track record of organizational management, fiscal responsibility, and his mission driven focus will continue to build a strong future for UCP National. Most importantly, Armando is devoted to serving and empowering people with disabilities and he truly embodies everything our organization stands for.”

“It has been a privilege, honor and a true blessing to have served as the CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona for the past seven years,” said Armando Contreras. “I am abundantly grateful to have worked with purpose-driven, passionate staff that are committed to enhancing the lives of thousands of children, teens and adults by providing the resources necessary to build a life without limits! I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to Richard Forkosh for his executive leadership and exceptional integrity during his term as Interim CEO. I look forward to working closely with the UCP National Board, Affiliates and Staff to address the priorities at hand, set goals and build a pathway to sustainability.

As the CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Arizona for the past seven years, Armando has increased net assets, built internal capacity, standardized business processes and enhanced the trust and communication in the organization. Contreras was instrumental in executing an agreement with Circle K, a major fundraiser collaborator of UCP’s for over 30 years, responsible for expanding therapy services for underserved children at the state of the art, UCP Downtown clinic, and diversified the organization’s grant and philanthropic base. Contreras has significantly increased UCP’s community awareness of the vital programs and services offered by UCP not only within the philanthropic circles, but also with public officials and key stakeholders in the disability community. Today, UCP of Central Arizona is one of the most highly respected agencies in Arizona serving children, teens and adults with various disabilities.

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About United Cerebral Palsy:

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) 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 nearly 70 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 more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with 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 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit .