Success Strikes at State-wide Empower Florida Seminar

Success Strikes at State-wide Empower Florida Seminar

Empower Florida: A Collaborative serving the Developmentally Disabled in our communities

On May 20, 2016 over 600 business owners and agency providers attended a day-long seminar at the Tampa Convention Center. “This is the first state-wide training that has been held in partnership with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD),” says Hartfield, Founder of Empower Florida. “Empower Florida is a collaborative designed to educate and empower the developmentally disabled business owners/service providers and the families that are served.”

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There are more than thirty thousand citizens throughout the State of Florida that are dependent upon service providers to receive a diverse array of services in community-based settings. These services are critical in order to support the well-being and quality of life of the developmentally disabled – our nation’s most vulnerable population.

“This conference is being held at a critical time, says Goddard, because the funding and services to disabled individuals are being impacted by policy changes at both the state and federal level.” Congresswoman Kathy Castor attended the Empower Florida event and addressed the audience of over 600 in attendance. She spoke with passion about the importance of these services to our community and why she continues to advocate for continued funding from the Department of Health and Human Services. Rep. Castor also listened to panel presentations and provider feedback and was alarmed to learn that there are over 20,000 individuals on the waiting list in Florida awaiting services. Critical services that these individuals are in need of include: supportive employment, personal support, residential services and adult day training services.

Denise Arnold, Deputy Director for APD indicated that over the last year or so the number of providers in Florida has decreased. If this trend continues, she indicated that a decline in the number of providers will limit the availability of services for the developmentally disabled in our communities and possibly impact the health and safety of these individuals.

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“Not only did the seminar provide vital information to providers and family members, but legislators and APD leadership in attendance found this experience to be invaluable by enabling them to hear directly from providers about their needs and challenges,” says Hartfield. State Representative Ahern, Castro, Narain and Peters, participated on the legislative panel and passionately expressed to the audience the importance for providers to communicate directly with legislators in order to share their input regarding pending legislation that impacts funding and services to developmentally disabled clients.

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The success of this event demonstrates that public-private collaboration works! As a result of the collaboration between APD, providers, advocacy groups and families, Empower Florida is able to obtain direct feedback regarding provider and client needs and design seminars that provide vital information. “The outcome of this event is that when everyone works together we accomplish so much more and everyone benefits,” says Hartfield. There has been discussion about future collaboration with APD in order to provide additional training seminars in other regions around the state. Gary Hartfield, Empower Florida Founder & Principal, Serenity Village Insurance & Consulting can be reached for additional information at 727-648-4925