|Above: Guernsey DD SSA Director Tanya Hitchens provides testimony to legislators during state budget hearings in 2015.
OACB advocates with a unified voice on behalf of the board members and professional staff who serve Ohio's county boards of developmental disabilities (DD) with policymakers and elected officials at the state and federal level.
State Legislative Advocacy
OACB acts as the official, unified voice of Ohio’s county boards before the state legislature by providing background information, committee testimony, and strategic direction to lawmakers throughout the legislative process. By building long-term, meaningful relationships with legislators, OACB is seen as a valuable resource by elected officials who, in the age of term limits, appreciate having the advice of subject matter experts to help them make important decisions.
State Executive Advocacy
OACB has developed strong working relationships with key decision-makers at the various state agencies responsible for overseeing the day-to-day activities of Ohio’s county board system. By advocating on behalf of county board interests during the administrative rule drafting and review process and by intervening in support of county boards during instances in which the board and the state agency are in disagreement, OACB ensures that county boards are treated fairly by state regulators and have multiple opportunities to make their voices heard.
As in Columbus, lawmakers and executive policymakers in Washington, D.C. appreciate having the context and expertise offered by OACB when making decisions on issues affecting services to people with developmental disabilities. In the absence of an established national presence representing county-based disability service organizations across the country, OACB’s outreach to members of congress and the president’s administration is critical to ensure that the perspectives of county boards are shared with key individuals at the federal level.
OACB provides support and training opportunities to board members, superintendents, and other county board leaders to allow them to become effective advocates with local, state, and federal officials through our advocacy chair program. OACB also facilitates county board trainings on advocacy topics on an individual basis.
County boards operate within a network of decision-makers at the local and county level of government that can have a significant impact on the board’s day-to-day activities. From county commissioners and auditors to municipal officials and community leaders, OACB helps to facilitate productive relationships between boards and their local colleagues.
In addition to government agencies that support people with developmental disabilities in Ohio, there are a number of non-governmental organizations that have a statewide interest in Ohio's DD system. These range from self-advocacy organizations who's goal is the empowerment of people with developmental disabilities at a personal level to statewide trade associations that represent the interests of people and entities with which county boards conduct business. OACB maintains positive working relationships with these groups to allow for statewide coordination on shared priorities.
For More Information
To learn more about OACB's current advocacy priorities, to speak with someone about DD policy issues at the state or federal level, or to discuss how you can get involved in OACB's advocacy efforts, please contact Erich Bittner, Director of Government Affairs, at email@example.com.