Kellie Brown, Superintendent

A Letter from the Superintendent

Sixty years ago, something beautiful and organic occurred when families and community members developed programs for people with developmental disabilities because they all felt 

that we could do more.  Keep in mind that this was 8 years prior to the start if the IDEA act; we were so progressive!

Although our services have evolved over the years, our commitment to people with developmental disabilities and their families is as strong as ever.  More people than ever, are receiving home and community based services.  We have held to our 1999 commitment to the local taxpayers that we would not go on the ballot for at least 10 years and if my math adds up

 correctly we are going on 19 years without going on the ballot.  All the while, increasing services and supports to individuals served.  

     This past year our county has continued to move toward a more inclusive community where people with and without disabilities work, create and socialize 

together. We have continued to find and support positive employment outcomes for those seeking work in our community. We appreciate all the efforts that our partner providers are making to ensure employment is a success.  We could not do this without our community provider partners.

     As we continue the state’s system-wide transformation, we are approaching a crucial point of significant change to the traditional ways that services have been delivered.   Much is still unknown, particularly about the enforcement of the Olmstead Act of 1999 by the Department of Justice and Disability Rights Ohio, and 2017-2018 Budget Proposals. We do know now that the clock for compliance with the CMS rule started ticking in March of 2014, and we have two more years to plan and comply. Compliance, most likely, will look like a system that fosters community integration with much less of a person’s time in a segregated environment.

     We do know that counties must comply with conflict-free case management.  Conflict free case management means that providers of Medicaid services cannot provide case management or develop the person-centered service plan, known as the ISP. In Guernsey County and throughout Ohio, SSAs oversee what CMS calls “case management.” I am pleased to announce that Guernsey County is in compliance, as our last provider of record hurdle was non-medical transportation and we stopped providing that service in 2016.

     We are excited that Guernsey County DD has been certified in the PLAY project for our Early Childhood program serving children age’s birth through age six.  Additionally, we have a “star” in Guernsey County as our very own Peter Bowen has been selected as the face of Ohio Early Intervention system.

You can see him and read about other early intervention success stories when you visit www.ohioearlyintervention.org.  Additionally, the Board has been one of the first counties in Ohio to expand Early Intervention Services through age five, especially for those kiddos enrolled in the PLAY Project.

     Although our traditional school program has declined in enrollment through the years, we are now serving more students than ever before. Our Board awarded over $650,000 in grants to our local school districts in an effort to equip them so that they can better support children in their home district.  It is amazing to see the progress in children when they have the opportunity to learn alongside their typical peers.  You would be amazed at how technology is helping students with their education.  I am proud to live in a community where schools value the education of all children.  Additionally, our SSA department is close at hand with the students and families supporting them in their homes with waivers, supported living, and family resources to name a few.

     The SSA Department has been very active this past year applying outcome based goals revealed during discovery into everyday life to make sure we are looking at not just what’s important for the individuals we serve but also what’s important to them.  As we continue to implement the Employment First initiative, we along with many boards, have found the need to hire an employment navigator.  This person will help individuals we serve to determine their very own path to employment.  Our board is looking into ways we can find and promote greater work experiences as individuals navigate their employment journey.  Additionally, the Board was the first in the state to fund and offer a scholarship to individuals eligible for services who would like to participate in post-secondary education.

     Put on your hard hats...we are building.  Our Board applied for and was granted over $300,000 to assist in the construction of a fully handicap accessible home.  We are excited that we will be able to bring home three gentlemen who had to move out of our community because we did not have accessible housing to meet their needs.  This home is being built near downtown Cambridge so that they can take advantage of all the accessible upgrades to the streets and sidewalks.  We have been delayed due to poor soil on the property that we purchased, but I look for construction to begin soon.

     Sixty years is a long time and I would be remiss if I did not thank all of those who have helped make our Board what it is today.  We are serving people when and where they want services.  It is a pleasure to work for such an amazing Board that continually raises the bar for the field and I look forward to the next year as we continue our journey together. 

 Kellie Brown, Superintendent