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Welcome to Achieva's Compass, an e-publication to help guide you through the world of disability.
Volume #15 | Issue #21
October 21, 2021

October is Disability Employment Month!

By Steve Suroviec, President and CEO

Picture of Steve Suroviec, President & CEO standing in the corporate office of Achieva.October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Achieva is known to many as a “go-to” organization when it comes to disability employment. If you’re a person with a disability, you can get assistance by either contacting Achieva directly or working with someone from one of several employment programs funded by the government. For example, the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation will assist any person with a physical or mental impairment that presents a significant barrier to getting and keeping a job. Another program is Community HealthChoices. If you’re a person with a physical disability who is enrolled in one of the three CHC managed care organizations (UPMC, PA Health and Wellness, or AmeriHealth Caritas), you can talk to your Service Coordinator and tell them you want to get a job. The CHC program covers the cost of employment services, whether it’s starting at the beginning to figure what you’d like to do, understanding to what extent earning a paycheck could impact other governmental services (like health care or home and community-based services), finding job openings or working with a business to develop a job customized for your skills and abilities, or simply helping you with job coaching while performing the job. People with intellectual disabilities or autism also have these services available to them through the county-based system funded by the PA Office of Developmental Programs. Achieva is well known to all of these publicly funded programs, and we are often the first non-profit they think of when deciding where to refer a person with a disability who wants “a real job at real wages.”

Achieva is also the go-to organization when it comes to private-sector businesses who need high-quality talent and want to hire people with disabilities to meet their workforce needs. Let’s face it, the labor market continues to be tight. Achieva’s Business Services unit can help companies meet their staffing needs with high-quality, qualified talent with disabilities. And if your business is emphasizing “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”, then hiring more people with disabilities can be a way to demonstrate your DEI bona fides.

Speaking of disability employment, I’ve had the privilege of chairing the Pennsylvania Employment First Oversight Commission (EFOC) for the past year. On September 22nd, the EFOC approved its third annual report, which contains policy recommendations for Governor Wolf and the General Assembly to improve competitive-integrated employment (CIE) outcomes for people with disabilities. If interested, you can read the report here. Pursuant to Act 36 of 2018, “Employment First” is the established policy of state government, and it simply means that CIE will be the first consideration and preferred outcome of all publicly funded programs that serve people with disabilities (including public education!).

So, if you are a person with a disability who wants to work, a business who needs workers, or a public school that wants to help its graduating students with disabilities land a job before they leave high school, then please consider contacting Achieva so we can help.
Competitive Pay. Robust Benefits. Apply to Achieva today!

Collecting Stories About Your Experiences Regarding Dental Care

By Nancy Murray, Senior Vice President of Achieva and President, The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh

Patient at dental officeAchieva is working with the PA Coalition for Oral Health (PCOH) to collect stories from people in all 67 counties about their experiences regarding their dental care. Many people struggle to find a dentist or find a dentist that will accept their insurance. We also want to know if you have had to go to an emergency room to get dental care or if you cannot get dental care at all.

People with disabilities often have difficulty finding a dentist who will accept Medicaid and has experience caring for patients with disabilities. Some people with disabilities also lack transportation to get to dental appointments. Others, with physical disabilities, may need a dentist who has a dental chair to accommodate their disability. And, some people who have hearing or visual disabilities may require other accommodations.

We are working with health care policymakers, legislators, insurers, and dental professionals to make the necessary policy and funding changes so that people can get the dental care they need. Your story will help us make the case that Pennsylvania needs to do more to ensure that everyone receives the dental care they need.

We would like to hear from you! Please click on the button below to share your message.
Submit Your Story

Achieva Family Trust Webinar and
Virtual Future Planning Conference

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Successful Strategies for Self-Advocacy Part 2

Tuesday, November 2, 2021
12 - 2 p.m.

Come hear how this panel of self-advocates discusses the importance of the involvement and support for self-advocates in advocacy efforts. They will review the principles of self-awareness, self-advocacy, and self-determination for optimal outcomes.

Moderator: Ashli M. Molinero, DSc, Director, UPMC Disabilities Resource Center

Panelists: Mark Steidl, Disability & LGBT Rights Activist; Liz Humphrey, Self Advocate, Motivational Speaker; and Topaz Calloway, Office, and Recovery Coordinator at Allegheny Health Choices, Inc.




Focus on the Future

Wednesday, November 10, 2021
8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Please join Achieva Family Trust for a day-long virtual conference dedicated to future planning for people with disabilities. The purpose of the conference is to educate and inform families, professionals, and self-advocates about the importance of Future Planning for Individuals with Disabilities. Below is the schedule of presentations.

8:30 a.m. Start time

8:40 - 9 a.m. Welcome Remarks: Amy Strano, Esq., President Achieva Family Trust; and Kelly Frey, WTAE Newsperson and Family Member

9 - 9:55 a.m. - Future Planning with Special Needs Trusts and ABLE Accounts
Presenter: Jacki Connell, Esq., Director of Legal and Trust Administration Services, Achieva Family Trust

10 - 10:55 a.m. - Housing Options for Individuals with Disabilities
Presenters: Michelle Stockunas, Vice President, Home and Community Supports, Achieva; & Melissa Allen, Director, Center for Independent Living, Disability Options Network

11 - 11:55 a.m. - Understanding Decision Making, Including Powers of Attorney/Guardianship
Presenter: Nora Gieg Chatha, Esq. Tucker Arensberg P.C. 

12 - 1:30 p.m. - Family Panel Regarding Future Planning
This panel will include a discussion of future planning from a parent’s perspective. What have been the experiences of the families, and what have been the obstacles that they have faced? What advice would these families give to other individuals/families who are contemplating future planning?

1:30 - 3 p.m. - Understanding Government Benefits
Presenters: Elaine Cole, MS, Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration; and Janice L. Meinert, MSW, Paralegal, PA Health Law Project

You can make an impact! Join Achieva's 70th Anniversary Giving Club.

Additional News of Interest

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The PEAL Center Announces New Executive Director, Mary Hartley

Seeking Volunteers aged 18+ Diagnosed with DD and/or Caregivers of Adults with DD

Social Security Matters

Social Security Benefits Increase in 2022

Down Syndrome Awareness Month- Proclamation

REV UP Webinar: Redistricting Webinar on October 22 at 3 p.m.

Disability Rights Advocacy Webinar on November 8 at 7 p.m.

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