As I’m sure you all know that the minimum wage in Arkansas was increased on January 1, 2017. The increase of $.50 per hour raises the state minimum to $8.50 per hour. I’m pretty sure I can speak for my colleagues in the state when I say that I’m happy for the dedicated folks who provide supports to individuals who have disabilities—any increase in wages for our employees is welcome.
Sadly, our state’s Department of Human Services isn’t as happy with the increase. At Arkansas Support Network, we began preparing for this increase in wages as soon as annual plans for the individuals we support were up for renewal. With very few exceptions, we don’t generally start any of our employees at minimum wage. We believe it’s necessary, however, to increase our other hourly employees to keep pace with the higher minimum wage, and when we submitted new plans, we included those wage increases for all staff. They were summarily denied. The managers who work for DHS actually refigured the plans, and reduced the rates without consulting with us at all. When I asked about this, I was told that, if we had employees who are paid minimum wage, they would look at those individuals on a “case by case basis.”
I asked how one branch of our state government (our legislature) could pass a law dictating that wages be increased, and another branch (DHS) could ignore this law, or just refuse to abide by it. The answer, of course, isn’t one that I can accept. According to the DHS leadership, they aren’t telling me not to increase wages, they’re just saying that they have no responsibility for helping make that happen. That’s just ridiculous in my opinion. The whole point of raising the minimum wage is to increase wages for all workers, not just those on the bottom rung.
Our State Economic Forecaster, Dr. Michael Pakko, in a report on KTHV Channel 11, said, “If you’re basically transferring $1 to a minimum wage employee, that dollar is coming from somewhere else.” Because our industry is built on a cost reimbursement system, that “somewhere else” should logically be DHS. Our employees depend on that reimbursement for their livelihood. For our state to increase wages, but to then turn around and refuse to increase our reimbursements sends a sad message. That message comes through loud and clear—we don’t care about the employees who do this important work, and by extension, we don’t care about the people they are paid to support.
Here are the facts: Anyone who runs a business will tell you that, when the minimum wage is increased, hourly wages must be increased for existing staff, or those individuals will leave and go elsewhere. In our part of the state, the unemployment rate is 2.6%. If you drive down any street in the region, you will see “we’re hiring” signs in front of every business. In Northwest Arkansas, a manufacturing company that starts new, inexperienced employees at $13.50 per hour is displaying a huge sign looking for new employees. If we can’t compete at some level for those employees, our services and supports will suffer.
My message to families is this: We, along with our colleagues across the state, will work hard to continue to provide good supports, but we all know that if we can’t hire good workers, the eventual result will be, at best, mediocre supports. I don’t even want to think about the “at worst” scenario. Let’s just agree that those outcomes could be tragic. Please talk to your legislators. Talk to the Governor. Talk to everyone who will listen. This is critical to the future of our services, and to the future of quality community supports in Arkansas.
Keith Vire, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Arkansas Support Network
Wednesday | January 25 | 5:30-7:30pm
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18 (* and those statistics are HIGHER for those that have special needs!*)
Learn how to protect the children you love
Stewards of Children is a 2 hour workshop that addresses child sexual abuse in the context of today’s issues and teaches you a simple, 5-step approach that protects the children you love.
You also receive a free workbook to take with you and a certificate of completion.
The Children’s Safety Center’s team knows first hand that ending child sexual abuse takes a cooperative, community effort. To end child sexual abuse we must first address the issue head on, be open to have conversations with each other and our children, educate ourselves on the facts, and learn how to prevent abuse from happening.
Space is limited!
RSVP by contacting CSC Program Director, Casey Atwood: email@example.com 479.872.6183
(training provided by Children's Safety Center)
As school gets in gear, some of us might need a refresher or need help learning some of the acronyms that come along with dealing with the Special Education system. Here's a handy quick reference list linked here ! And as always, please let us know if you need assistance in finding more information about any of these things by calling us at (479)927-4100 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some back to school events happening around NW Arkansas that might be useful to you and your children going back to school!
July 28th – 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Back To School Bonanza at Farmington United Methodist Church
355 Southwinds Drive in Farmington – 479-530-6412
*Fayetteville Area K -12
July 30th -12pm to 2pm
Variety Insurance – Annual Back To School – 500 Back Pack Give-Away
106 E Emma in Springdale
August 6th – 11:00am – 2:00pm
Rodeo of the Ozarks
1423 E Emma in Springdale
*Child must have parent present
Samaritan Community Center – School Supply Voucher Program (spot by their location for vouchers)
1300 N Thompson in Springdale – 479-872-1115
1211 West Hudson in Rogers – 479-636-4198
Taught by David Lacy - Kansas University
June 20th at 6:00 pm
CFN Library - 614 E. Emma Suite 131 - Springdale, AR 72764
This presentation is designed to help parents make informed choices about how best to use hand held devices (iPad, iPod and Android) in the areas of life skills, social skills and academic skills. This presentation is part of an ongoing research project by Mr. Lacy for completion of his Master’s Degree in Special Education. The presentation will consist of an interactive PowerPoint presentation, question and answer session and two surveys to be completed by the participants.
Please RSVP by sending an affirmative email to David Lacy at:D405l373@ku.edu
1. HIGH EXPECTATIONS. Expect your student to follow the rules and learn just like everyone else. Do NOT let them mess around and get away with it, however they will need extra help learning and following the rules.
2. SLOW DOWN. Most people with Down syndrome understand what you are saying, it just takes longer for them to process it. Don’t let their poor verbal skills fool you into thinking they are less capable. a. Use simple words and short sentences that are to the point. b. Pause a few seconds between sentences so that they can process what you just said.
3. FOCUS. Don’t overwhelm too many details at once; focus on ONE thing at a time.
4. EMBRACE IT! Don’t underestimate what a difference you can make in your swimmer’s life!
5. TRANSITION TIME. Give plenty of simple verbal cues when you are going to move from one activity to another. You could say, “After we do bubbles we will practice back floats.” “We’re almost done with bubbles, what’s next? Back floats!” “Okay! Time for back floats!” This really helps with transitions (moving from one activity to another.)
6. MOTIVATE. Use their abilities and interests to capture their enthusiasm. If they like to dive for rings, use that as a reward for doing something less desirable. This works for most kids!
7. IDLE HANDS. Kids sitting on the wall will tend to muck about. Have them doing drills while you do open pool work with an individual.
8. FEEDBACK. Give specific feedback. “Hey! You did a great job holding your breath! Well done!”
9. BE CONSISTENT Instructor turnover can be very stressful. Since many kids with special needs thrive with specific, predictable routines, it is essential that instructors be consistent in their teaching times and methods.
10. CREATE SUCCESS. Give them reasons to feel successful. Break down the lesson into easy to accomplish parts and build on them. Celebrate productive effort and calmly redirect them to activities they should be doing when they get distracted.
11. EMPHASIZE BASIC WATER SKILLS. Before attempting to teach swimming traditional strokes, it’s important to make sure that each child masters basic water skills like breathing, maneuvering underwater, and flotation. These skills do not come naturally for many children, which is why a patient, consistent teaching method is best.
12. DEMONSTRATE. Show them what you want. Don’t just tell them. Kids with Down syndrome are usually excellent mimics. They learn by seeing. Show them and say, “Do this, now your turn.”
13. PARENT’S INSIGHT. Talk candidly with his parents. Do not be afraid of asking awkward questions. They’re experts and can tell you a great deal about their children’s needs and strengths.
14. PROGRESS. Approach each session with a specific goal in mind. Think, in two weeks I want my swimmer to be floating on their back. Think about where you want your swimmer to be by the end of the summer. Work towards these goals. If your swimmer is NOT making progress, speak to your Chief Guard and arrange a meeting with the parents as soon as possible so a new approach can be discovered.
MOST IMPORTANT, HAVE FUN!!!
(reposted from www.sbdsa.org_ )
This summer, Central United Methodist Church in Rogers is hosting a group of high school teenagers from all over the state for an event called Ozark Mission Project (OMP). This group of youth and adults will be gathering July 11-15 to do mission work within the community for neighbors in need (such as for the elderly, disabled, low-income). In other communities, we have done things such as building wheelchair ramps, yardwork, painting, minor repairs, etc. Celebrating 30 years this year, and now with 12 camps each year, this is the first time a camp is being hosted in Rogers. Central is so excited to be hosting a camp this year!
Below, you will find a list of projects they can and cannot do as well as the client application form. They do not charge for labor or materials. Their services are based on all different kinds of need. Please have potential clients fill out a confidential application form for each family unit that might need assistance. Keep in mind that they can only work within a 30 mile radius of the campsite and an adult family member needs to be at home the days we complete their work. Below is also a pamphlet that explains OMP that can be given to potential clients. Even more information can be found at www.ozarkmissionproject.org
All applications can be mailed to:
2535 West New Hope Road,
Rogers, AR 72758.
They will continue to collect applications until the week before camp. Their staff will visit potential worksites on Wednesday or Thursday before camp begins. You can also contact Karent Anderson at 479-372-3191
Moving Together is Monday, May 30, 2016 at Veterans Memorial Park in Fayetteville. This annual Memorial Day event features a 5K paved run, a 10K trail run, a CrossFit Murph, and a 1-mile fun run, walk, and roll! You can also sleep in for ASN if you really do not want to get out of bed but you DO want the shirt! Get more information here!
Young Disability Awareness
Team Razorback Train Ride!
Saturday April 16th 8-4:30pm, Springdale to Van Buren
Sunday April 17th, 1:30-4:30pm, Springdale to Winslow
Cost: $15 for ALL ages per ride
WEAR YOUR RAZORBACK COLORS!
This event is open to ALL YOUTH and Adults with disabilities
Contact: email@example.com for more information!
Ozark Regional Transit (ORT) is offering free fares during Spring Break
Spring is in the air, and all of Northwest Arkansas is prepared to come alive again!
Ozark Regional Transit (ORT) is offering free fares during Spring Break (March 21 – March 25) for all 14 fixed routes in Northwest Arkansas.
Spring Break is the first of several free-fare periods that ORT offers each year. We encourage ORT passengers to use this opportunity of free fares-- and free time offered by the break-- to get out and enjoy all the wonderful springtime activities that our area has to offer.
Free fare is for fixed-route service only. Pre-scheduled paratransit and demand/response service remains at the $2.50 rate for one-way passage.
ABOUT OZARK REGIONAL TRANSIT
ORT has four fixed routes in Fayetteville, five in Springdale, two in Rogers and one in Bentonville. Also, two express route bus services — one, hourly between Fayetteville and Bentonville which is very popular and free for NWACC students, and another, 1 ½ hour express route between West Fork and Lincoln — that connect multiple communities in Northwest Arkansas.
Para-transit services are offered in all 10 cities with fixed-route service and — to a more limited extent — in rural areas and smaller cities in Washington, Benton, Madison and Carroll counties, Monday through Friday.
All ORT vehicles are wheelchair accessible. Bicycle racks are available on all fixed-route buses. Information on para-transit service and fixed-route information can be obtained by calling ORT at (479) 756-5901 or visit ORT’s website: www.ozark.org.
For more information on this subject, call Jeff Hatley at 479-365-2161.
His Helping Hands Clothes Closet @ Agape Campus
His Helping Hands 1520 W Huntsville Ave, Springdale, AR in the First United Methodist Church Agape Campus. It is open every Thursday from 9am to 2pm. They have clothing for children, women, and household items. All items are free! All they ask is you bring some sort of identification with you.
Staff of the Northwest Arkansas Community Parent Resource Center (including original content as well as curated links to various authors around the web.)