Inside Opportunity Partners

Advocate for Disability Issues

As a nonprofit organization, advocacy is a key component of Opportunity Partners’ mission. We seek to help people get engaged in, and provide information about, the issues that are important to them.

Ultimately, our goal is to help Opportunity Partners’ staff, the people we support and their family members feel empowered to advocate for change that positively impacts their lives and the broader disability community. Through active participation in grassroots advocacy efforts, each of us can truly make a difference.

The 5% Campaign

5 percent campaign logoOpportunity Partners is an active member of The 5% Campaign, a nonpartisan coalition of Minnesotans that came together to ask state legislators for a 5% rate increase for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in 2014. Following years of budget cuts and freezes to HCBS, the coalition advocated for a rate increase to help curb high staff turnover, and improve the quality of care for people receiving services. As a result of thousands of contacts by supporters of The 5% Campaign, Governor Dayton signed a full 5% rate increase for HCBS into law on June 20, 2014, as part of the supplemental budget bill. In 2015, The 5% Campaign will again seek a 5% rate increase to ensure high quality services for people with disabilities and older adults are available, stable, and sustainable.

The 5% Campaign fact sheet

Learn more about The 5% Campaign and ways YOU can get involved

Advocates’ Broadcast

Check out the December edition of our “Advocates’ Broadcast”, a short video featuring information about ways YOU can get involved in our policy and advocacy events this month:

December Advocates' Broadcast snip

The Committee of Advocacy and Leadership (COAL)

Coal members at pancake breakfastThe people served by Opportunity Partners have an opportunity to be a part of the self-advocacy movement through our Committee of Advocacy and Leadership (COAL).

Learn more about COAL

Family Action Network

Our Family Action Network (FAN) includes parents, family members and guardians who want to advocate for and alongside their loved ones who receive services. The group primarily focuses on policy issues that impact the services that individuals with disabilities receive at the state and federal level. It provides an opportunity for you to learn more about these important issues and how you can be part of the solution. If you would like to learn more about FAN, contact Kayla Nance at 952-688-1598 or knance@opportunities.org

Disability Policy Resources

Opportunity Partners is following these subjects closely and we are involved with other disability providers and advocates in analyzing these disability policy matters. We will be posting resources here as they become available.

Disability Waiver Rate Setting Methodology

In 2007, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed Minnesota that its four disability waivers were out of compliance with federal requirements for uniform rate distribution methods and standards. These include the Brain Injury (BI), Community Alternative Care (CAC), Community Alternative for Disabled Individuals (CADI), and Developmental Disabilities (DD) waivers. In January 2014, DHS established what is now known as the Disability Waivers Rate System.

MN Department of Human Services site on Disability Waivers Rate System

Opportunity Partners-DWRS

Home and Community Based Services Final Rule

This rule addresses several sections of Medicaid law under which states may use federal Medicaid funds to pay for home and community-based services (HCBS). The rule supports enhanced quality in HCBS programs, adds protections for individuals receiving services, and reflects that individuals receiving supports through HCBS have full access to the benefits of community living and are able to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

Fact Sheets on HCBS from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Minnesota Statewide Transition Plan (November 2014)

Opportunity Partners-HCBS Final Rule

Minnesota Employment First Policy 

The MN Department of Human Services released its Employment First Policy as part of its Olmstead Plan. Employment First has four core values: that employment is the first and preferred outcome for working-age people with disabilities; people with disabilities are competitively employed or self-employed; employees with disabilities earn at least minimum wage and benefits; employees with disabilities are fully integrated into the workplace and interact with co-workers, customers and the public. The plan includes addtional sections on informed choice around employment including benefits of work, exploration and support, and work experience and employer engagement, as well as state agency requirements and quality assurance.

MN Employment First Policy (adopted by the Olmstead Subcabiinet on 9/29/14)

Opportunity Partners-MN Employment First Policy

Olmstead Plan

As a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, states were required to develop an Olmstead Plan that outlines how people with disabilities will have choices about where they live and are served in community settings suitable to their needs and desires. This involves developing plans for employment, housing, transportation, healthcare, etc., in the most integrated settings.

Olmstead Quick Guide

Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan Web site

Opportunity Partners-Olmstead Plan

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

In 2014 Congress passed WIOA, designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. It increases individuals with disabilities’ access to high quality workforce services and prepares them for competitive, integrated employment. It requires better employer engagement and promotes accessibility to employment and training services for people with disabilities. Youth with disabilities will receive extensive pre-employment transition services to obtain and retain competitive, integrated employment.

U.S. Department of Labor WIOA Resource Page

Opportunity Partners-WIOA

Commensurate Wage

Section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) authorizes employers, after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay special minimum wages to workers who have disabilities. This is highly regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor; however, there are increasing pressures at the federal level and among advocacy groups to eliminate the practice. In February 2014, President Obama signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers, including those with disabilities employed under new government contracts.

U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet

Useful links

Templates to share your story with a legislator:

Who represents me? 

Minnesota Senate Web site

Minnesota House of Representatives Web site

For more information

Alicia Munson, Public Policy & Advocacy Associate
952-930-7696 or amunson@opportunities.org

Opportunity Partners partners with the following organizations to strengthen our advocacy efforts:

Arrm-logo-2C-300x267  masthead  Arc MN logo

 

How to get started

An Opportunity Partners representative is ready to answer your questions, set up a tour, or discuss the many ways we can partner with you. Get started today