Setting the Course for APD
I am happy and excited to be the new director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. I look forward to continuing to offer needed services to Floridians with developmental disabilities. That is the agency’s number one priority—protecting the health and safety of the people we serve.
The biggest challenge before the agency is keeping Medicaid waiver expenditures within the legislative appropriation this fiscal year. I have a great team here to help me tackle this issue. I also plan to reach out to all stakeholders, especially customers, to find solutions.
The agency must continue to move ahead. A boater’s analogy to new leadership is that APD will continue to move forward, however the rudder may take us in a slightly different direction. We need to embrace and accept change.
APD is here to help Floridians with developmental disabilities be a part of their communities. The agency is part of the equation, but community resources and, most importantly, families, are critical to ensure an individual is fully active in their neighborhood.
I want to ensure APD is providing the tools needed to help someone achieve all their goals like holding a job and living in a comfortable home. As a runner, I want to encourage our customers to do some type of exercise each day. I hope to get involved in Special Olympics. I think it is good for everyone to compete against themselves. It is rewarding and healthy at the same time.
I hope to develop better relationships with the business community and more opportunities for employment for our customers. I want to know that the agency is doing the right things to help prepare people to go to work.
My plans include restructuring the agency. I want to move decision making to the local level where employees know best how to meet people’s needs. I will hold the area offices accountable for their performance. The area offices must live within their budgets while also protecting the health and safety of customers. The agency will be transparent in its activities.
The toughest challenge for the agency is determining how to help people waiting to enroll in the Medicaid waiver. There is no easy solution. APD will continue to assist people on the waiting list with some services, like transportation and supplies, during this fiscal year. Down the road once the agency has balanced its budget and expenditures, I am hopeful we can offer waiver services to some individuals on the waiting list.
I look forward to working with customers, providers, employees, and stakeholders to address the many challenges facing the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Working together, we will be able to meet these challenges successfully.