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The mission of The Arc of Luzerne County is to improve the quality of life for people with intellectual & developmental disabilities and their families through advocacy, resources, and community education.
The Arc of Luzerne County is a not-for-profit 501c3 agency founded in 1952 with one mission, to improve the quality of life of children and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and their families through advocacy, resources, and community education. The Arc of Luzerne County is an affiliate of a national and state organization of and for people with Intellectual Disabilities and related Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). We are the largest I/DD advocacy organization in the United States. Collectively, our efforts to improve the quality of life of people with ID/D and their families has earned us the reputation as the single most respected voice on this issue
The Arc of Luzerne County provides advocacy, community education, outreach, independent monitoring, and individual and family support services. We host the only community resource center (CRC) in the Northeast Region dedicated to materials relevant to people with I/DD and related disabilities. The CRC houses a lending library containing books, presentations, videos, dvds, and other educational tools available to the public free of charge. Computers with internet access are available during business hours for use by all community members.
In 2013, the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) embarked on a journey to define the "Vision of the Future" for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) throughout the commonwealth. In an effort to offer an opportunity for all people to participate in the process, ODP partnered with The Arc of Luzerne County (The Arc) to seek out individuals with disabilities to submit photographic images of their personal vision of the future by using their unique talents to create their vision through artwork. Photographs of the artwork were displayed at an evening reception on Thursday, October 24, 2013, as part of the Pennsylvania Disability Employment & Empowerment Summit (PADES) at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg located in Camp Hill, PA. We are currently seeking funding to compile the photos and publish a book titled "Vision of OUR Future". The Arc is excited to be a part of this project because it gives a voice to the people we serve who sometimes struggle to be heard.
The Arc of Luzerne County has held the local contract for IM4Q beginning in 1999, the year the program piloted state-wide. The Arc of Luzerne County has been considered a model program by the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and has participated on several committees to assist ODP with developing programmatic changes to enhance the program, most recently the IM4Q Management Committee and IM4Q Steering Committee. The IM4Q Program Coordinator has presented on procedures developed at a local level at several trainings and workshops in an effort to share best practices with other local programs state-wide. The IM4Q Program Coordinator has received extensive training on both HCSIS and ODESA systems utilized for data entry of information collected from the individuals surveyed. The IM4Q Program Coordinator and County IM4Q Point Person have developed and refined a "Closing the Loop" protocol to assure all considerations are addressed in a timely manner and individuals surveyed receive follow up to any/all concerns reported. Historically, The Arc of Luzerne County has complied with all instructions and deadlines mandated by ODP to complete the survey year and data entry requirements in the time allotted.
The Arc of Luzerne County is one of seven chapters across the country to participate as a HealthMeet site. HealthMeet leverages a national network of more than 700 Chapters, national disability organizations, public health systems, health professionals, university systems, and other key stakeholders to reduce health disparities and increase the longevity and quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) by providing free community-based health assessments and individualized recommendations for follow-up care. Assessments will focus on general health and body composition, vision, hearing, oral health, foot care, respiratory health, mental health and lifestyle factors such as diet and nutrition, physical activity, substance use, and access to health care.
The Arc of Luzerne County has dedicated a significant amount of time over the past few years towards promoting employment for people with disabilities and advancing Pennsylvania’s Employment 1 st Policy. The Executive Director has served on several local and state committees, including co-chairing the Office of Developmental Program’s (ODP) State Employment Leadership Network (SELN) Team and co-chair of ODP’s Futures Planning Extended Team’s Employment 1 st Sub-Committee.
In 2011, The Arc of Luzerne County developed and implemented a pilot program named TRACE- Transition to Community Employment- funded initially by the Department of Public Welfare Office of Development Programs utilizing both federal and state funds. TRACE is a 12 month work readiness program developed by The Arc of Luzerne County and delivered through Luzerne County Community College for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and autism. The program is comprised of one year of structured employment preparation that includes customized life and employability skills training, career exploration and mentoring, and one year of a case managed experiential learning work apprenticeship related to aptitudes, career goals and skill development of the individual, and work/life balance programming in the community. The program is currently available in the Wilkes-Barre area at the Luzerne County Community College Corporate Learning Center.
In 2008, The Arc of Luzerne County developed a partnership with Lowes Distribution Center to provide technical assistance for the design and implementation the "Outreach Program". The mission of the Outreach Program is to provide meaningful work for capable people with disabilities who are representative of the community and who otherwise would not find work, resulting in an improved quality of life for the person and a diversified and productive workforce at Lowe’s RDC#1449. The Arc assembled stakeholders from the community, including providers of supported employment, PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, PA Office of Developmental Programs, Luzerne & Lackawanna Counties Offices of Mental Health & Developmental Services, and other advocacy agencies to provide information and referrals to Lowe’s as the program developed. The Arc assisted Lowe’s with final selection of interested providers to provide on-site training and job coaching to job seekers selected for the Outreach Program. The Arc of Luzerne County acts as the liaison between the Lowe’s Corporation and the providers of service and government entities. Approximately 65 people with disabilities are currently employment at the Pittston facility. Because of the success of the program, Lowe’s has expanded the program to all distribution centers in its network, employing close to 400 people with disabilities nation-wide. The Arc of Luzerne County has participated in several presentations of the Outreach Program throughout the Commonwealth as well as at a nation level. The Outreach Program has become a model program replicated by several other corporations across the country.
The Arc of Luzerne County has held the contract for 3 consecutive years to plan and manage the Pennsylvania Disability Employment and Empowerment Summit (PADES) funded by DPW using both federal and state funds. The goal of the event is to bring together business leaders, service providers, government agencies, and people with disabilities to discuss the current programs and services available for people with disabilities, as well as ways we can assist the business community as they work to advance their diversity efforts to include people with disabilities as part of the workforce. Session topics will include information on model programs, job development, public policy & funding, benefits & government incentives, accommodations & technology, as well as briefings both federal & state initiatives to increase the rate of employment for people with disabilities. The Arc of Luzerne County is responsible for all aspects of planning & managing the event and participates as a member of the steering committee along with representatives from DPW/ODP, OVR, Governor’s Cabinet for People with Disabilities, and the Office of the Governor.
We are also excited to announce we were recently selected to receive a grant from The Arc of the United States to participate in the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Project.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD, is the single most common cause of intellectual/developmental disabilities that is 100% preventable. The goal of the FASD Prevention Project is to increase health care provider knowledge of the risks alcohol can pose to a fetus and encourage the use of FASD prevention strategies and provide educational opportunities to health care providers, specifically family practitioners, internists, pediatricians, obstetrician/gynecologists, physician assistants, midwives, nurse practitioners, registered/licensed practical nurses, mental health therapists, substance use therapists, and community health representatives.
The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention Project is a national initiative of The Arc funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through a $1.3 million Cooperative Agreement (Grant number: U1HMC26371.) This national-scale effort will be carried out in collaboration with our national partners and The Arc’s network of almost 700 chapters. The FASD Prevention Project will work to create and disseminate culturally competent written and video materials, host webinars, peer learning communities, deliver conference presentations, and develop a CE course. Materials will equip health care providers with tools for screening and intervention for at-risk patients.
- Pamela Zotynia
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