In the news

Senators Brenner, Antonio announce formation of DD Caucus

By Special Report, OACB
Published Monday, April 1, 2019 3:00 pm

COLUMBUS—Senators Andrew Brenner, R-Delaware County, and Nickie Antonio, D-Cuyahoga County (pictured, right), today announced the formation of the Ohio General Assembly’s first Developmental Disabilities Caucus, a group of lawmakers dedicated to tackling issues affecting Ohioans with developmental disabilities and Ohio’s DD support system.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle and the many advocacy groups who are committed to helping us achieve our goals and better serve those with disabilities and their families," said Brenner. "We work hard to ensure there is opportunity and a future for all Ohioans, and this caucus will find new ways to continue to grow and improve."

Support services for Ohio’s more than 93,000 residents with developmental disabilities and their families are funded by a mix of county, state, and federal dollars. The majority of services are coordinated by the state’s 88 county boards of DD and delivered by provider agencies. DD services are regulated by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. 

“As a former special education teacher and advocate for the disability community, I am happy to join my colleague, Senator Brenner, in this new Caucus,” said Antonio. “People who make up the disability community are an important part of the fabric of our society and we as legislators should do everything we can to work together for shared goals.”

The DD Caucus will initially focus on educating legislators on the needs of people with developmental disabilities, coordinating policy development that helps strengthen DD supports, and engaging with DD system advocates and leaders to learn more about current and future needs. The group's first meeting will be held on April 16, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. 

Ohio's DD system stakeholders have identified a number of priorities for consideration by the DD Caucus. These include:

  • Ensuring service reliability and quality by decreasing caregiver staff turnover. 

  • Encouraging employment opportunities for Ohioans with developmental disabilities. 

  • Supporting programs helping babies and children diagnosed with developmental delays. 

  • Exploring ways to coordinate assistance for young people with coexisting disabilities and mental health/addiction diagnoses.

The caucus will accept input from several advocacy groups representing people served by Ohio’s DD system and various professional organizations. Current partners include

  • The Arc of Ohio
  • Autism Society Central Ohio (ASCO)
  • Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO)
  • Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (DD Council)
  • Ohio Self Determination Association (OSDA)
  • OCALI
  • Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (OACB)
  • Ohio Provider Resource Association (OPRA) 
   Legislators and representatives of advocacy groups representing the newly formed DD Caucus. From left: Gary Tonks, Executive Director, The Arc of Ohio; Marge Barnheiser, Director of Public Policy & Adult Services, Down Syndrome Association of the Central Ohio; Dana Charlton, Executive Director, Ohio Self Determination Association; Carolyn Knight, Executive Director, Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council; Senator Nickie Antonio (D-Cuyahoga County); Senator Andrew Brenner (R-Delaware County); Erich Bittner, Director of Government Relations, OACB; Christine Touvelle, Policy Analyst, OPRA; Melissa Bacon, Director of Government Relations and Stakeholder Engagement , OCALI. Click photo for high-resolution version.


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