In the news

Director reports support for sheltered work program

By Bonnie Daniel, Advertiser-Tribune
Published Thursday, April 16, 2015

Seneca County Board of Developmental Disabilities met at Fostoria Re-ads Tuesday afternoon to hear Opportunity Center Superintendent Lew Hurst say "My Voice, My Choice" has generated 6,000-10,000 signatures in Seneca County on petitions protesting closure of the Re-ad facilities in Ohio.

The state is promoting an Employment First program but not all individuals are able nor do they wish to seek community employment. The local Employment First focus group, which includes area schools, providers for job coaching and job development, Job and Family Services "Welfare to Work" program and Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Services representing local businesses, has been meeting to create opportunities for community work in the next year.

Hurst said he asked Adult Services Director Rod Biggert to be involved in the pilot program along with local service providers to determine costs and challenges in a transition period to the Employment First program.

After board member Joe Moore and many others have testified before the Ohio House Of Representatives finance committee about the closure of sheltered workshops, Hurst believes the House understands the issue and the substitute state budget presented Tuesday reflects that.

State Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, attended the 30th anniversary of the Fostoria Re-ads collaboration with Roppe Corp. earlier this year and declared Fostoria has the best Re-ads facility in the state.

Hurst is confident there is support in the state Legislature for continuing of sheltered workshops.

The Opportunity Center's accreditation review is scheduled near the end of April. Mock surveys have been conducted in preparation for showing progress toward meeting the new state rules. Only three-year accreditations may be granted now, instead of the five-year designation as in the past.

According to Biggert, Tiffin Re-ads has two new company contracts providing individuals with work opportunities.

He reminded those present of the Memorial Day picnic at the Opportunity Center May 28.

Rick Gagnon, children's services director, said four individuals are to graduate May 7. He was pleased to announce the Early Intervention program received $30,000 in grant funding. He expressed a need for the Early Intervention program to be year-round.

Consumer Advocacy and Supports Director Cynthia Morrison announced the Unity Dance is Friday. She thanked board members and volunteers who made DD Awareness Month successful. There were 130 people, including State Rep. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, attending Dinner and Dialogue, and more than 800 people were present for the Palm Sunday Dinner with 207 of those being take-outs. More than 500 participated in the Arts and Crafts Show.

Natasha Hiser-Purkey, service and support administrator, said individual educational plans are more person-centered.

Transportation Director Ron Davidson reported two new vehicles with four wheelchair spaces and four seats procured with an Ohio Department of Transportation grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration have arrived and have had identification logos added.

Staff is preparing its fleet because state inspections are to start May 1.

Human Resources Director Janet Vay reported a new bus driver and substitute driver have been hired, but they always are seeking substitutes.

In other business, the board:

Shared a letter from a Wyandot County family extolling Seneca County's Special Olympics program.

Approved the transfer of $50,000 from the General Fund to the Living Services Fund and the appropriation of the amount.

Approved $7,100 for the summer activities program open to students enrolled at the School of Opportunity.

Approved $32,283 for the summer activities for the Early Intervention program.

Approved the revised 2014-15 program calendar.

Approved revisions to the 2015-16 program calendar.

Reviewed 20 board policies with seven revisions.

The board is to meet at 5 p.m. May 12 at the Opportunity Center.

This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared in the Advertiser-Tribune. The original story can be found at:

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