UCP Seguin Enterprises: Creating Opportunity and A Space in the Community

Special thanks to Julie Lerch, Senior Director of Seguin Enterprises, for her assistance in contributing to this blog!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness MonthOur affiliate in the Chicago area, UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago, has worked to help provide job training for people with disabilities through two of it’s unique enterprises, Seguin Garden and Gifts and Seguin Auto Center.

UCP’s national office recently caught up with Julie Lerch, Senior Director of Seguin Enterprises, to learn more about their history and the impact of employment for people with disabilities.

The welcome sign for Seguin Auto Center.

Seguin Auto Center

Seguin Auto Center began as a small crew washing the vehicles in parking lot in April 2004 and grew into a full detailing and car wash service. Built solely through donations and the help of the community, Seguin Auto Center provides a range of services, which includes full vehicle detailing and hand car washes. In addition to the services provided at the Auto Center, they also own a used car lot. Though the amount of cars for sale to the community varies, each of the vehicles available for purchase were secured through donations. Seguin Auto Center also works with various nonprofits in the Chicago metro area, helping to administer their vehicle donation programs. This can include processing donations, cleaning up those that are suitable for selling on the Seguin Auto Center used car lot, and recycling the cars that are not able to be sold. Once the vehicle is sold or recycled, Seguin Auto Center sends a check to the non-profit partner for the proceeds of the donation. According to Julie, this is a win-win for both the nonprofit partner and Seguin Auto Center.

Employees at Seguin Autocenter washing a car.

The lot sells more than just cars. Starting in April and running through Thanksgiving, the Seguin Auto Center hosts a market every Saturday & Sunday. Vendors rent a space for $13 to $18, and sell a wide range of items, from housewares to clothing, pretty much whatever they like. It also creates a wonderful opportunity to engage the community with UCP Seguin and for the vendors to earn income and promote the items that they have for sale. 

Seguin Garden and Gifts

A display for “UCPSeguinMade” ceramics.

In addition to Seguin Auto Center, UCP Seguin also runs Seguin Garden & Gifts. Seguin Garden and Gifts came about from a successful Horticulture therapy program and a growing lawn and landscaping crew that maintained the lawns at the UCP Seguin CILA homes, in addition to a small, off-site craft store.

Seguin Garden and Gifts features a 4,000 square foot greenhouse and 2,000 square feet of retail space. Construction on the space began in 2007. The greenhouse offers a variety of edibles, annuals, perennials and houseplants, depending on the season. “UCPSeguinGrown,” a line of organically grown vegetables and herbs are available in the Spring, all grown by participants. The retail side features gardening merchandise, home decor, holiday items, and features a section of “UCPSeguinMade” ceramics, jewelry, cards, and plants.

Both Seguin Garden and Gifts and Seguin Auto Center offer competitive employment for people with disabilities with varying needs and supports. They help to provide employment training and life skills, and currently have 87 employees who have worked over a total of 18,000 hours.

Planting in the garden. 

Find out more about UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago’s Enterprises by going here.

For more information on employment and people with disabilities, check out our Facts About Employment Blog.

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/.

Capital Home Care on the Impact of Personal Care for People with Disabilities

Karin Hitselberger, Public Education Associate

Home and personal care can be an essential aspect of life for many people with disabilities and their families. Home care services play a vital role in helping some individuals with disabilities live their lives independently in their own community, helping to ensure that they are able to live a life without limits. Capital Home Care, a program of UCP of Central Pennsylvania, is a non-medical home care provider for individuals over the age of 18 in the Central Pennsylvania area.

Home care is a term that encompasses a variety of different services that can be received in a consumer’s home. Angela Griffith, Director of Capital Home Care, explains that the services provided through Capital Home Care can be anything from assistance with chores, to help getting to (or participating in) activities in the community, personal care assistance, and a range of other tasks. Each consumer receives customized care; no two people are exactly alike, so each person’s care may look a little different.

Angela says one of the most important things to understand about home care is that personal care services are essential for enabling people to live at home with their families or independently, which many would be unable to do without home care services.

Angela started with Capital Home Care as a Personal Care Attendant, or PCA, and says one thing people may not realize is the impact these services have not only on the consumer but also the provider, adding that providers get as much out of the experience as they give to consumers.

Angela says that she’s been able to experience this impact first-hand, having had the opportunity to accompany one of Capital Home Care’s consumers and his PCA to the Pennsylvania State Capitol to advocate for disability policy.

“People don’t often realize the impact it has for the caregiver and the consumer…that was great to see, and a reminder for me of what we do every day,” she says.

To find out more about home care, or other services your local UCP affiliate may provide, contact them using the affiliate locator on our website.

From right, Angela Griffith, along with a consumer and his PCA at a Pennsylvania Lobby Day

From right, Angela Griffith, along with a consumer and his PCA at a Pennsylvania Lobby Day

#KnowMedicaid

 

As Google search results indicate, many more Americans have grown concerned about losing their (or a family member’s) Medicaid benefit. We at UCP are receiving an increasing number of inquiries about Medicaid and the services and supports it provides for many individuals with disabilities and their families.

 

Even without a pending health care bill in Congress, it can be overwhelming to navigate the process of accessing the funding and benefits necessary to receive the support needed so you or your loved one can live a life without limits. While there is no one way to simplify the process, there are ways to make it a bit easier. The tips and tricks below will help you in your conversations with Medicaid and other agencies.

 

When you’re done checking out our tips, you will also find a PDF guide with the contact information for Medicaid (and related agencies in all 50 states) at the bottom of this post.

 

Keep Records of All Conversations, and Be Sure to Seek Clarification When Necessary:

 

Whenever calling your state or any other entity) regarding services and supports, be sure to keep notes about your conversation including: who you speak with , what department they are in, what department they refer you to, and any other pertinent details.

 

This is really important in the case that there is any confusion or conflicting information during the process , because you will be able to provide past information about what you were told and when.

 

It is also a great idea to ask the person you are speaking to to follow up with an email, if possible; that way you are able to see their summary of the conversation, and open up a dialogue that may help in the future should there be any misunderstandings.

 

Remember That State and Federal Agencies Are Not Identical:

 

When working with Medicaid, or any other government program or agency, it is important to be aware of the difference between the agency in your state, and the federal agencies in Washington, DC.

 

While agencies can be connected, the state agency handles state programs and issues and the federal agency counterpart handles national ones. When getting information about services and supports, it is vital to differentiate between what is available and provided by your state, and what might also be available on the national level.

 

This is also key because these differences affect how programs are funded, and may alter the process required to become eligible. Sometimes programs may be jointly run on the state and national level, but it is still important to be aware of when you’re talking to, or about, your individual state versus when you’re looking at things on a national level.

 

Not All States Run Programs the Same Way, (or a Call Agencies by the Same Name):

 

Another reason it is important to be aware of the difference between state and federal programming is because the way programs, such as Medicaid, are administered can vary significantly from state to state.

 

Therefore, be sure to investigate how things are run in your specific state, and not go off of the experiences of an individual who may live someplace else. A program that is provided through the Department of Health and Human Services in one state may be provided through the Department of Welfare in another.

 

Before getting discouraged and thinking something doesn’t exist, always remember to try a different name or department, because you never know what it might fall under in your state.

 

Always Ask for Other Options:

 

Just because one program, grant, or service is not an option for you, doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there that can help with your situation. Even if you find out that the program you are looking into will not work (or be available) based on for your situation,, be sure to ask the person you’re speaking with if they know of any other programs that may be able to help.

 

When considering your options, it is also important to remember that different programs have different eligibility requirements. So, be sure to provide as much information as possible to determine if you are eligible for a specific program.

 

Obtaining services through Medicaid (or other agencies) is rarely a simple process, but we hope that these tips– as well as our guide of various state offices involved in the administration of services and supports for individuals with disabilities– will make your journey a bit easier.
Do you have any other tips or tricks you would like to add to the list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #KnowMedicaid. To learn more about Medicaid in your state, check out our resource guide.

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 .

UCP Expresses Concerns About American Health Care Act of 2017

Last Thursday, Members of the House of Representatives passed, by a narrow margin, H.R. 1628 (the American Health Care Act of 2017, or AHCA for short). United Cerebral Palsy, along with our colleagues in Washington, expressed concerns about the bill in its current form (as well as previous proposals that were circulated).

 

We joined coalitions focused on the preservation of coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, coverage for rehabilitative and habilitative services, and protecting Medicaid. We also took part in advocacy efforts with the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of 100 national disability organizations working together to advocate for national public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration, and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. In short, we are not alone in our concerns and we will continue to work together to fight this harmful bill.

We share the concerns many of you have voiced to us about the lack of review by the Congressional Budget Office of this latest bill, and the potentially devastating consequences the House bill as written could have on the 175,000 families served by UCP’s affiliate network (and really all individuals with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for health coverage and/or long-term services and supports).

We are hopeful that as the Senate deliberates, more information about the projected impact of the House bill will become known and that the Senate will not pass a bill that would bring harm to our community.

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/

Thoughts on the Future of Healthcare

This blog was written from the personal experience of UCP’s Winter Intern surrounding the future of healthcare. This post is intended to express their personal thoughts and experiences. 

On February 7, 2017, I had the opportunity to attend my first press conference as United Cerebral Palsy (UCP)’s programs and development intern. The conference was held by the Committee on Education & The Workforce at the U.S. Capitol. The speakers included several Members of Congress, as well as school nurses and parent advocates. The experience was unforgettable, marking the first time I actually got to witness what goes on behind the scenes of health policy.

As an aspiring primary care physician, health care policy has always meant more to me than simple legislation. When policy changes are made, it directly impacts how doctors can perform their care and how patients can access it. I think it is extremely important that people understand and take charge of their own health, and this is made possible through expansions in health education and health access. Being at the Capitol, and feeling immersed in the actual political process with regards to health, showed me how important it is to continue advocating for these goals– and for my future patients.

One of the stories that particularly touched me at the event was that of parent advocate Anna Crone. She spoke to the room about her daughter who was born with type 1 diabetes. Part of her treatment requires receiving daily insulin injections, and having her finger pricked up to 10 times a day to check her blood glucose levels. In 2012, before the ACA was fully implemented, Crone’s husband had lost his job and was attempting to shop for private insurance. However, he was unable to find anything due to the fact that most insurance companies denied coverage at any cost for those living with pre-existing conditions. He was eventually able to find a job and get back on private insurance, however the family said they felt a significant ease of mind knowing that their daughter would never fully lose coverage thanks to the ACA.

From this story, along with others, I began to truly understand the degree to which the ACA has impacted millions of Americans. As in the case of Anna’s husband, life may get in the way when one least expects it, and it is important to know that you or those you love will still be protected. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to better understand the complexities of our government; and, I know that this will serve to make me a better health advocate for not only individuals with disabilities, but for all.

UCP and the National Council on Disability – “First Responders and Disability”

On December 9, 2016, UCP and the National Council on Disability joined together to host a day of conversation surrounding first responders and the disability community. Bringing together diverse perspectives from across the country, the day was a raw and honest look at the way law enforcement and other members of the first responder community interact with those living with disabilities.

Watch the footage (captioned) below:

 

View the Program Agenda

View the Event Summary here