Minutes for January 14, 2015
Region 6 Planning Board Meeting
Irene Cheyne, ChairFayetteSharon HerbertFayetteDavid KitchensSumter
Jim Risher, Vice ChairHenryKatherine McHanLamarAmy KuhnsHenry
Glynda King, SecretaryPikeGeraldine JacksonSpalding
Beverly GarlandMuscogeeAngela CraigHenry
Cathy McGillCrispTommy AllenCarrollLavonne HarnHouston
Marlene RozellMeriwether
Sheila MalloryButtsJulia ChibbaroCarrollBetty CasonCarroll
Sandra SmithCowetaNeydi BelmonteCowetaJackie BeggFayette
Keith BrownHeardMary Jo PageMarionSher’londa WalkerTalbot
Joni JonesTaylorFrank DunfordMuscogeeTiffani StacyMuscogee
Edward BarnwellMuscogeeJanet WycheTroupBill SawyerSchley
James Robert AndrewsRandolphDave MillerTroup
DBHDD Staff:
Valona BaldwinDevelopmental Disabilities-Regional Services Administrator
Melinda R. BrooksRegional Planning Board Support Services

Keri LaraFamily and Individual Support specialist from Meriwether County
Lisa JenkinsMuscogee County
Call to OrderIrene Cheyne, ChairBoard members, DBHDD staff, and guests were welcomed. A moment of reflection was shared by Lee Hubbard.
Everyone introduced himself or herself. Today’s guests are Keri Lara, consumer advocate from Meriwether County and Lisa Jenkins from Muscogee County.

The minutes of the November 12, 2014 meeting were reviewed. Two corrections were made—Angela Craig and Beverly Garland were both present at the meeting via conference call. MSP to accept the minutes as corrected.
Guest Presentation:

Family Advocacy—Helping Families Apply for Waivers

Keri Lara

Beverly Garland

Ms. Lara is a long-time volunteer advocate working with individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. During the past year alone, she has assisted over 100 families apply for waiver services. Ms. Lara has two sons with autism.

In assisting individuals and families, Keri’s goal is to help individuals with developmental disabilities develop person-centered life plans and secure DBHDD financial assistance to help realize these plans. Ultimately the goal is to help individuals with DD increase self-determination and improve independence.

Keri commented that there is a lot of misinformation about waivers. An example is the misconception that families in need must be poor in order to qualify for a waiver.

Keri encourages primary caregivers to make a plan and get organized early. She assists primary caregivers in creating a large notebook of important records and documents that evidence the individual’s needs. The idea is to have a portable, comprehensive, and up-to-date account of the individual’s life. The life notebook becomes essential for accessing information needed for waiver applications, emergencies, etc. Specific information that should be in the notebook includes records of medical events, documentation of diagnosis, records of professional visits—doctor, dentist, counselor, etc., record of personal accidents, injuries, and illnesses, information about needs related to feeling safe and secure, lists of medicines, and service provider documentation. Creating a life notebook can be very stressful for caregivers so helping with this task is an important advocacy role.

Keri discussed the differences between the NOW and COMP waivers. The New Options Waiver (NOW) provides up to $25,000 in annual support for individuals who do not need 24 hour care. Comprehensive Support Waiver (COMP) provides support greater than $25,000 annually. The COMP waiver is also used for individuals transitioning from institutions to the community. Individuals interested in applying for a waiver need to contact the Region 6 office.

In the waiver application, it is helpful to include support letters from teachers, friends, pastors, doctors, local officials, pharmacists, etc. This helps strengthen the individual’s statement of need.

When seeking services for an individual, caregivers are often told that services are not available. Keri encourages caregivers to respond by saying “Thank you. Can you please put that in writing for me, so that I can further research and understand where I need to go from here?”

Keri shared that caregivers should reach out to their communities. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, Parent2Parent of Georgia, support groups, and community groups may be helpful.

Beverly Garland, board member, shared her son’s notebook with the board. Her son’s notebook contains many photos, documentation of medical needs, care provider information, (doctors, dentists, etc.), diagnoses documents, long term goals, treatment plans, and family traditions that help her son feel secure.

Keri was enthusiastically thanked by the board for her excellent presentation. Beverly was thanked for sharing her son’s life notebook.

Contact information for Keri is 706-977-9413 or 706-507-0083 and keridlara@gmail.com.
Report on Leadership Council Meeting with DBHDD Commissioner Berry

Irene Cheyne

Three members of the statewide Leadership Council—Glynda King, Region 6, Jean Logan, Region 3, and Irene Cheyne, Region 6—met with DBHDD Commissioner Berry and executive staff on November 24, 2014, to discuss the reorganization of DBHDD and the future of the six Regional Planning Boards and the statewide Leadership Council.

A written summary of the meeting was distributed to board members. Glynda King read the summary aloud. Highlights from the meeting include a discussion of organizational changes, the importance of DBHDD maintain local presence, the importance of the local and regional voice in DBHDD planning, DBHDD’s continued commitment to advocacy input, and the need to expand and improve DBHDD messaging, especially user-friendly, online information for individuals with disabilities and caregiver.

Two other documents presented to Commissioner Berry were distributed to Region 6 board members—The Importance of Community Advocacy and Center for Advocacy: A Vision Statement.

Sharon Herbert read The Importance of Community Advocacy aloud to the Board. The key message of this document is that “Community advocacy is about empowering stakeholders—consumers, families, advocates, public and private providers, public managers, and community leaders to bridge the gap between philosophy and reality.”

David Kitchens read Center for Advocacy: A Vision Statement aloud to the Board. The proposed Center for Advocacy is a metaphorical gathering place with DBHDD in which stakeholders work together with DBHDD staff to harness the energy, experience, and passion of the public. The work of the Center might include needs assessment; volunteer recruitment, placement, and training; grass roots innovation and natural supports development; consumer, family, and community education; project-specific financial resource development; social marketing; resource advocacy; and model program replication. The goal of the Center is to build the power of the community to serve DBHDD in a low-cost, inclusive, and effective way.

Commissioner Berry suggested that another meeting be held in late January or early February.
Behavioral Health Planning and Advisory Council Report

Jim Risher
Amy Kuhns
The most recent meeting of the Behavioral Health Planning and Advisory Council was held on January 13, 2015.

At that meeting, Commissioner Berry made a presentation titled “Out of the Institution”.

Commissioner Berry provided a historical perspective of institutionalization in Georgia. In 1842, Central State Asylum opened its doors. At one time, this asylum housed 13,000 patients. In 1921 Gracewood opened its doors, and by 1972 Georgia had seven mental health hospitals.

Over the past 25 years, there has been a shift away from institutionalization. This Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 articulated the desire for people with disabilities to live in the least restrictive environment possible.

Because Georgia has been slow to deinstitutionalize, there have been several legal challenges to Georgia’s institutionalization. These challenges include the Olmstead decision (1999) that found that individuals should not be segregated from society when deemed ready to integrate into the community, These legal challenges have underscored Georgia’s need to better serve people with disabilities.

Commissioner Berry has heard from the legislature about the many complaints it receives about DBHDD services. The Commissioner feels that these complaints about DBHDD services are well founded and that improvement in DBHDD services is absolutely necessary. Thus the reorganization of DBHDD is intended to focus on the goal of “easy access to high quality services.”

The CEO of Value Options (DBHDD’s new Administrative Service Organization), Jason Beardan, commented to the BHPAC that they were focusing on data-driven decision making with transparency and accountability.

Amy reported on children and adolescent services. Matt Yancy is the Child and Adolescent Director for DBHDD. The 2015 Care Academy at Stone Mountain has the theme of “Embracing Transition” with a primary focus on children 16-25 years. School-based mental health services are being discussed. Amy is a member of a subcommittee that is preparing a survey of school councelors about school mental health and substance abuse services. Georgia Shape, an initiative, is studying the relationship between childhood mental health and obesity. Seven day crisis respite services have been reinstated for children between 5 and 8 years old to give both caregivers and the child a break to deescalate a crisis situation.

Mental Health Day at the Capitol will be held on January 20. Amy encouraged board members to attend and wear green in support of mental health.
DBHDD Organizational Changes Update
Valona Baldwin
Valona announced the recent appointment of Dan Howell as the director of DBHDD’s Developmental Disabilities division. Monica Parker has been appointed at the director of DBHDD’s Behavioral Health division.

DBHDD has a target date of March 1, 2015, to start operating under the new organizational structure. This means that by our Board’s March meeting we should have an organizational chart that provides authority and accountability relationships.
Developmental Disabilities Information UpdateValona BaldwinValona reported that some waiver amendments became effective December 11, 2014. These include a 2 percent increase in provider reimbursement for most services, and the identification of nursing as a stand-alone service, instead of a service under Community Living Support (CLS) services.

Valona announced that planning for a COMP waiver rewrite is currently taking place. Community forums to gather citizen input on how the COMP waiver can be improved will be held throughout the state. The first community forum is at the Columbus Trade and Convention Center on January 26, 2015. Board members are welcomed and encouraged to attend.
2017 Annual Plan Process Irene CheyneDeputy Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald told Irene in an email that it is important to move forward with the 2017 annual planning process. Based on this recommendation, Irene presented a proposed flow chart for Region 6’s 2017 annual planning process.

MSP to accept the 2017 Annual Planning Process flowchart as presented. (David Kitchens/Geraldine Jackson)

Irene distributed several summary documents of results from our recently completed citizen involvement efforts including community forums, community survey, and provider input.

Board members divided into small groups to review the summary documents and suggest priorities for the 2017 Annual Plan. Each group summarized their results for the board and the group worksheets were collected.

Irene requested volunteers for the next step in the planning process—Joint Review and Determination Committee. This step involves meeting with Region 6 staff to determine the priorities for 2017. David Kitchens, Beverly Garland, and Jim Risher volunteered. Additional volunteers are welcome.
AdjournmentIrene CheyneOur next meeting will be on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, from 1-4 p.m. at the Upson County Senior Center.
MSP to adjourn the meeting at 4:02 p.m.

Minutes recorded and submitted by Melinda R. Brooks and reviewed and revised by Irene Cheyne