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Advocate for Disability Rights and Disability Services


Opportunity Partners’ advocacy efforts aim to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities while honoring our core values of impact, choice, heart, and partnership. Our value of partnership means we aim to create positive change through advocacy.

By working together using advocacy, we aim to educate and empower the people we serve, friends, families, staff, volunteers, and other members of our community on issues impacting people with disabilities and broader disability services. Together, we are a powerful voice for change!

Disability Services Day at the Capitol is March 8, 2022

Opportunity Partners is excited to bring together advocates — including self-advocates who are the people we serve, friends, families, staff, and volunteers — for Virtual Disability Services Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 8! The event will not take place in-person at the Minnesota State Capitol this year, but there will be a virtual component. The event is hosted by our advocacy partners ARRM, MOHR, and the Best Life Alliance. More details will be available soon. To learn more about Virtual Disability Services Day, visit ARRM’s event webpage.

For more information, contact info@opportunities.org

2022 Legislative Session

Every year during the legislative session, elected officials across Minnesota discuss, debate, and create laws. Some of these laws impact individuals with disabilities, disability service organizations like Opportunity Partners, and other members of our community. Minnesota’s 2022 legislative session begins on Monday, January 31 and ends on Monday, May 23. 

Our membership organizations ARRM and Best Life Alliance will advocate at the legislature for short-term and long-term measures to address the significant staffing shortages affecting disability service organizations across Minnesota: ARRM 2022 Legislative Agenda

Join our mailing list at the bottom of the page to stay informed about advocacy efforts and help take action!

The Committee of Advocacy and Leadership (COAL) for Persons Served

The Committee of Advocacy & Leadership (COAL) is a person-first group for and by people supported by Opportunity Partners who want to learn, teach, and practice self-advocacy.

Who can participate in COAL?

Anyone who receives services from Opportunity Partners can join! Staff, family members, and friends of people served are encouraged to be allies to COAL participants.

How do I join COAL?

If you are a person who is supported by Opportunity Partners, you can join our advocacy group, which is called the Committee of Advocacy and Leadership (COAL). You can join COAL by sending an email or asking an OP staff member, family member, or friend to send an email to info@opportunities.org

What is self-advocacy?

Self-advocacy means speaking up for yourself. Self-advocacy is also a movement of people with disabilities across the country – and around the world – who work together to make sure their voices are heard, valued, and respected.

Who are self-advocates?

Within the disability rights and justice movement, self-advocates are leaders with disabilities. There are many self-advocates served by Opportunity Partners. Some self-advocates have been involved in politics and others are more focused on advocating in their homes or at work. Self-advocates are sometimes supported by allies who do not have disabilities.

What does COAL do?

Participants will have the opportunity to attend the 2022 Disability Services Day at the Capitol and learn about self-advocacy throughout the year. In 2015, COAL was given the 2015 Nonprofit Mission award in the category of Advocacy. COAL was recognized for its person-centered approach to engaging people with disabilities in legislative and self-advocacy efforts.

COAL members at the 2015 Minnesota Council of Nonprofits annual luncheon with their Advocacy award.

COAL members proudly receive their Advocacy award from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits in 2015.

If you are a person who is supported by Opportunity Partners, you can join our advocacy group, which is called the Committee of Advocacy and Leadership (COAL). To join COAL, contact info@opportunities.org

Our Advocacy Partners

ARRM

Opportunity Partners is a proud member of ARRM, an association of over 200 disability services organizations and other advocates dedicated to advancing home and community-based services supporting people with disabilities. Arrm-logo-2C-300x267

How to receive updates from ARRM:

 

Best Life Alliance

Opportunity Partners is an active member of the Best Life Alliance, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 130 organizations, people with disabilities, families, and supporters across Minnesota. Best Life Alliance advocates for available, stable, and sustainable Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS).

bla logo

How to receive updates from Best Life Alliance:

 

MOHR

Opportunity Partners is a proud member of MOHR (Minnesota Organization of Habilitation and Rehabilitation). MOHR is comprised of about 100 Adult Day, Day Training & Habilitation, Extended Employment, and Supported Employment Service member organizations, serving more than 26,000 people with disabilities across Minnesota.

How to receive updates from MOHR:

Understand the Issues

Opportunity Partners follows these policy areas closely and we are involved with other disability service organizations and advocates to help analyze and advocate for policy changes that benefit the people we serve and their families, staff members, and broader disability services.

 

Direct Support Professional (DSP) Workforce Crisis

Read more on the Direct Support Professional Workforce Crisis that is affecting disability services organizations nationwide and across Minnesota:

ANCOR’s State of America’s Direct Support Workforce 2021 Report

Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota’s direct support workforce webpage

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

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 (January 2015)

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 additional 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 Subcabinet on 9/29/14)

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

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

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

Advocacy Resources

The federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (W.I.O.A.) requires that organizations like Opportunity Partners provide information about self-advocacy, self-determination, and peer mentoring training opportunities available in our geographical area. Here is a list for your reference. We have also posted this information in our handbook.

The Minnesota Families & Advocates Coalition (MNFAC) was formed in 2016 as a volunteer organization of parents and family members concerned with the rights of individuals with disabilities. Currently, some of MNFAC’s primary concerns are with the Disability Waiver Rate System and the Direct Support Professional (DSP) Workforce Crisis. MNFAC’s goals include statewide advocacy, awareness and advisement. Check out the MNFAC website for resources and upcoming events.

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

 

Get started today

Contact us today to learn more about Opportunity Partners and our services for individuals and businesses.