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A History of the Council

2009

  • The Council’s five-part autism initiative continues to gain momentum. FY10 funding for expanded diagnostic capacity transitioned from a mix of state general fund dollars and Trust funding to 100% state general fund dollars ($500,000). An additional $125,000 in state general funds was secured for workforce development; and for the first time, state general funds ($150,000) were obtained for the Alaska Autism Resource Center.
  • The Council organized and oversaw the development and implementation of the Alaska’s Kids Can’t Wait campaign. As a result, the legislature funded a $1 million dollar increment for the Early Intervention/Infant Learning Program (EI/ILP) services and $300,000 for EI/ILP workforce development/high qualified staff.
  • The Council successfully advocated with the legislature for a $150,000 increment for rural transition services.
  • Together with many stakeholders, the Council successfully advocated for the passage of HB26 which permanently re-authorized the Medicaid preventative and restorative dental program for adults.
  • The Council received funding from The Trust to hold a residential services summit May 28-29; approximately 125 participants learned about new technologies and approaches to providing residential services and identified implementation priorities.
  • As a result of the Council’s advocacy, the State Board of Education & Early Development added advanced nurse practitioners to the list of medical personal that can make an autism diagnosis for special education purposes (adopted 6/12/09).
  • The Council provided public comment and coordinated testimony by People First members to the State Board of Education & Early Development on proposed regulations to replace MR with “Cognitive Impairment.” (adopted 9/09/09).

2008

  • Co-sponsored the Disability Employment Policy Summit with the Governor’s Office to secure commitments from state agencies to 1) make the state a model employer of people with disabilities; 2) help people with disabilities build assets; and 3) better integrate services and resources.

  • Successfully advocated with the legislature for a $250,000 increment ($125,000 state funds and $125,000 Trust) for autism workforce development capacity building.

  • The legislature provided funding to increase Medicaid home and community-based waiver rates by 4%.

  • The Governor signed HB 272, which phases in increases to the Base Student Allocation, makes adjustments to the district cost factors, recalibrates the amount of pupil transportation grants and phases in funding increases for students with intensive needs.

  • The legislature allocated $1,100,000 for coordinated transportation ($800,000 general fund and $300,000 Trust); this is the first time that any state general funds have been available for coordinated transportation.

2007

  • Successfully advocated with the Alaska Mental Health Trust to fund Early Childhood Comprehensive System Grants ($100,000) and Positive Supports Training for Young Children ($80,000) in FY08 as part of the Bring/Keep the Kids Home Initiative.

  • The Ad Hoc Committee on Autism developed of a set of recommendations for the Trust, the new administration and the legislature; as a result, the FY08 budget included a $500,000 ($250,000 Trust and $250,000 in state funds) appropriation for expanded autism diagnostic clinics.

  • A $300,000 increment for early intervention/infant learning program services was approved by the legislature.

  • The Medicaid buy-in program for working people with disabilities was changed to allow participants to save up to $10,000 for an individual (formerly $2,000) and $15,000 for a couple (formerly $3,000) without losing their ties to Medicaid.

  • The Council was awarded a three-year grant from the Department of Justice, Office on Violence against Women to build collaborative networks between the disability community and the victim services community.

  • The Council took an active leader and coordination in helping over 60 people helped develop the Early Learning Guidelines, which encompass outcomes for infants and toddlers; preschool guidelines that focus on 5 domain areas and guidelines for K-2 children should know and be able to do
  • Conducted a Provider Rate Freeze Survey to determine the impact of the Medicaid rate freeze on providers and a Family Survey to determine the impact of the rate freeze on service recipients and their families. 

2006

  • The Council took an active leader and coordination in helping over 60 people helped develop the Early Learning Guidelines, which encompass outcomes for infants and toddlers; preschool guidelines that focus on 5 domain areas and guidelines for K-2 children should know and be able to do.
  • The Ad Hoc Committee on the DD Waitlist prepared a set of 17 recommendations to better manage the waitlist for developmental disabilities services; as a result, an increment of $3 million in state funds and $4.1 million in federal funds was secured from the legislature.
  • After several long years of advocacy, the Newborn Hearing Screening Bill was passed by the legislature.
  • As a result of leadership from the Trust and advocacy from the Council and other stakeholders, the legislature funded preventative and restorative dental care and dentures for adults on Medicaid.
  • The Statutory Reference Disabilities bill (HB 357) was signed into law by the Governor.
  • The Council contracted for a State of the State report, which described how Alaskans with developmental disabilities are living and how they viewed their lives and their place in the community.
  • The Council was awarded a three-year research and demonstration grant from the Office of Disability Employment Policy to increase the number of Alaskans with disabilities who are self-employed.

2005

Outcomes for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

  • 197 people have jobs of their choice
  • 100 people with disabilities own or rent a home due to Council efforts
  • 659 Alaskans have transportation services
  • 885 people participated in recreational activities
  • $8,937,806 leveraged for disability services and supports
  • 129 children attended inclusive child care settings
  • 140 students transitioned from school to community and jobs.

Securing the future collaboratively with the legislature, administration and other stakeholders:

  • Reduced high cost institutional services and enabled individuals to stay in their local communities using Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waivers
  • Contained costs and increased the number of persons served through the closure of Harborview Developmental Center and de-certification of Hope Cottages’ ICF/MR facilities
  • Leveraged a variety of resources to increase the employment rate of Alaskans with severe disabilities and reduce dependence on state services
  • Increased cost-effectiveness and savings to State of Alaska by conducting an examination of the two waiver programs administered by Developmental Disabilities
  • Leveraged a variety of funds to increase availability of coordinated, accessible transportation helping people with disabilities and low-income individuals get to work

2004

  • Together with a number of partners, the Council sponsored Wrights Law "Boot Camp" on Special Education Law Advocacy to meet the needs of parents and professionals for good, authoritative information about their rights and responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and how it files the No Child Left Behind legislation. A total of 339 people attended the training (100 in Juneau and 239 people in Anchorage).
  • A comprehensive, multi-media training package on parent-professional collaboration and family support resources was developed through the Council's Far North Family Support project.
  • As a result of the Council's leadership of the Alaska Works Initiative, a number of new or improved programs or policies were implemented, including:

    1. the establishment of a statewide benefit counseling program;
    2. changes in the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation's self-employment policies;
    3. identification of local contacts by the Social Security Administration;
    4. increased access to one-stop job centers
    5. the piloting of Alaska's first Individual Development Account program;
    6. inclusion of disability in diversity training offered by the Division of Personnel.
  • The Council worked closely with the Alaska Mobility Coalition to secure a variety of state and federal funds for coordinated community transportation; six communities received funding to plan coordinated transportation systems, prepare for or start up operation, purchase vehicles for coordinated use or initiate a shuttle or taxi voucher service.

2003

  • The Alaska Mobility Coalition secured a variety of state and federal funds for coordinated community transportation; six communities received funding to plan coordinated transportation systems, prepare for or start up operation, purchase vehicles for coordinated use or initiated shuttle or taxi voucher service.
  • As a result of the Council's advocacy, Alaska ranks first in the country in terms of the percent of people with developmental disabilities (99 percent) residing in publicly funded out-of-home settings for six or fewer persons.
  • The Early Intervention and Education committees jointly spearheaded a parent training collaborative to empower parents through training and information. As a result, parents now have access to a monthly e-mail list of learning opportunities and an electronic discussion group focused on early intervention and special education practices.
  • The Council served as a the steering committee for the Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process for early intervention and special education. State staff began implementing the improvement plan in July.
  • Worked with the State Independent Living Council, the Alaska Mental Health Board, the Alaska Commission on Aging and the Governor's Committee on Employment & Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities to plan the second Disability Policy Summit. As a result, secured commitment from the new administration to work together with the disability community to implement a number of specific recommendations.

2002

  • Supported passage of SB345 relating to school districts' eligibility to seek payment from Medicaid for covered services paid for or furnished to eligible children with disabilities.
  • Co-sponsored and helped plan the first annual First Lives Conference for direct service staff, which was a smashing success. 250 people were expected to attend the conference, the actual attendance was well over 350.
  • Co-sponsored and helped plan the Autism Summit; as a result, a commitment to fund an in-state Autism Resource Center was secured from the Commissioners of the Department of Education & Early Development.

2001

  • Co-sponsored and helped plan a one-day workshop on Transportation Funding during the Annual Transit Conference, which resulted in the formation of the Alaska Mobility Coalition.
  • Designated by the Governor to receive a starter grant for implementing systemic reform of Alaska's long-term care systems. As a result, the Division of Senior Services received two federal grants in October 2001 to:
    1. transition people from nursing homes to the community;
    2. increase consumer control of personal assistance services and supports

    The Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities will receive a federal grant in October 2002 to integrate self-determined service delivery into current service delivery systems and develop, implement, and evaluate consumer-driven care coordination/case management systems.
  • Successfully advocated with the legislature for a $700,000 increment to help reduce the Early Intervention/Infant Learning Program wait list.
  • Worked with the Department of Education and Early Development, Disability Law Center, PARENTS, inc., and other advocacy organizations and stakeholders to make changes to the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam legislation. As a result, students with disabilities may be able to earn a diploma if they successfully complete an alternative assessment program.

2000

  • Secured funding from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority for the Division of Public Health, Section on Maternal, Child and Family Health to develop a behavioral health initiative for young children under the age of eight.
  • Successfully advocated for passage of a bill requiring the Department of Health & Social Services to establish a waiting list for state-funded services for persons with developmental disabilities and requiring the department to submit an annual report concerning the waiting list and persons with developmental disabilities.

1999

  • Successfully advocated with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and the legislature for funding to improve the quality and safety of the services DD service providers deliver.
  • Secured funding from the Alaska Mental Health Trust for the Center for Human Development's Learn as You Earn program, which provides distance education for direct service workers who provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

1998

  • As a result of the advocacy of the Council, the State Independent Living Council, the Governor's Committee on the Employment and Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities and the Disability Law Center, the State legislature passed a Medicaid buy-in for working people with disabilities. Alaska was the first state in the country to pass legislation and the second to implement a buy-in program.
  • Secured funding from the reallocation of savings from the closure of Harborview Developmental Services and from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to implement core services for people waiting for services.
  • Conducted an examination of the two DD Waiver programs, which resulted in a number of recommendations for improvement.
  • Successfully advocated for passage of the assistive technology "Lemon Law" and the "Puppy Guide Dog Bill".
  • Worked with People First of Anchorage, the Center for Human Development and the Disability Law Center to plan and coordinate the International People First, Self-Advocacy Conference in Anchorage for over 1,000 people from 18 countries.

1997

  • Secured funding from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (in 1998) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (in 2000) to increase the employment rate of Alaskans with severe disabilities. With award of Department of Labor funds to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Social Security Administration funds to the Center for Human Development in 2000, became part of the broader Alaska Works Initiative.
  • Closure of Haborview Developmental Center and voluntary de-certification of Hope Cottages' ICF/MR facilities (now Hope Community Resources), which made Alaska the first state in the country with no public or private institutions for people with disabilities.
  • Worked with the State Independent Living Council and Governor's Committee on the Employment and Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities to plan the first-ever Disability Summit. Key people from around the state in government, public associations, business, and industry participated in the Summit, which led to positive policy changes by state agencies.

1996

  • In order to establish a balance in the development of long-term care, the Council and the State Council on Independent Living succeeded in securing a moratorium on the licensing of new nursing home beds and a working group produced a report with recommendations impacting future development of long-term care.

1994

  • To promote inclusion in public schools, the Council drafted changes in regulations. Once passed, the changes allowed school districts to receive funds for special education students based on the intensity of the student's needs rather than the place where they received their education.

1991

  • Working with the Older Alaskans Commission (now the Alaska Commission on Aging), the Council made recommendations on how the state could use Medicaid to the benefit of people with disabilities. The result was the creation of Medicaid Waivers to serve people with home and community-based supports and the TEFRA Option, which provided families with Medicaid-funded medical services for their children.

1989

  • Parents and Professionals Coming Together was the theme for the first Pathways Conference. The Conference, which was planned and supported by the Council, was a dream of Dot Truan, the Council's Executive Director for 15 years.

1988

  • The Council's Residential Services Task Force studied individual needs and costs to serve the residents at Harborview Developmental Center in their home communities. The Council's findings resulted in a policy of no new admissions into Haborview and the report was the basis for DHSS to aggressively de-populate the center.

1987

  • Initiated the collaboration of beneficiary groups by forming the Alaska Mental Health Lands Trust Coalition, which assisted in securing a settlement to the decade-long legal debate.

1986

  • Successfully advocated for Personal Care Assistance Services for people with severe or multiple disabilities to be added to the Medicaid Options list.
  • Led the effort that involved over 200 people to plan a comprehensive, coordinated statewide service system of early intervention for infants and toddlers with disabilities. In 1991, the Alaska Legislature agreed to adopt new services and have the Council serve as the Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC).
  • To meet the needs of students with intensive needs living in rural areas, the Council created the Special Education Services Agency (SESA). Serving as SESA's Board of Directors, the Council assures that the organization continues to serve rural districts.

1984

  • Adopted and promoted service principles. The principles are used today to guide the delivery of services and supports to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

1981

  • Drafted a nation leading law to reform guardianship procedures. The Alaska legislature passed the Council's model statute.

1975

  • Produced its first public policy document entitled De-Institutionalization Action Plan. The Department of Health & Social Services adopted the recommendations in the report, which became the basis for the creation of community-based services.