Monthly AOA Updates & Digest (March)

Greetings! Welcome to the monthly AOA Updates & Digest.


Upcoming AOA Meetings for March:


AOA of Miami-Dade:           DATE:  Thursday, March 17

LOCATION:   Mailman Center for Child Development, Room 3003, 1601 NW 12th Ave. Miami 33136

TIME:  10AM to Noon


AOA of Broward:                 DATE:  Tuesday, March 22

LOCATION:   José María Vargas University, 10131 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines, FL 33026



AOA of Monroe:                   DATE:  Thursday, March 24

LOCATION:  Murray E. Nelson Government Center, 102050 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL  (Room MM102)

TIME:  1PM to 3PM


Agendas for all meetings will be distributed soon.


Quick Update:


The AOA has been creating opportunities for agencies to come together to network and share for over 15 years.  Now that the AOA is active in 3 counties, it has been very exciting to see some of the linkages that have been created:


  1.  Specific referrals are being made:  where one agency may be limited in the type of services that can be provided, we find that another agency can fill in the gap.
  1.  Special support is being provided:  we are finding that one organization can provide an important supplementary service to another organization either through sharing of resources or direct training.
  1.  An important awareness of resources is taking place:  Each month, we seem to find another agency that is doing something very special that we need to know about either for our own knowledge base or to connect those we serve to these resources.
  1.  Working partnerships are being created:  Through the AOA, a variety of agencies have set up partnerships to work together in specific areas.  These include work on grants and specific program initiatives.
  1.  Agency outreach goals are being met:  Many agencies know that their message is going out to almost 200 folks who stay connected to the AOA and are going to pass on this information to hundreds of their consumers or clients or students.  That has the potential of affect thousands of lives.
  1. Needs are being identified and prioritized:  The Monroe AOA has really been pulling together to develop identified needs that address the unique problems associated with a county that stretches across hours of travel time.  They have already made considerable strides bringing agencies together to develop a set of plans that will fill in the gaps that currently exist.


DIGEST of the February AOA meetings:

Getting to Know Our Community’s Programs

The month of February was highlighted with an opportunity to get an in-depth look at some of the work or workings of our community agencies.  These opportunities are often enlightening and result in some kind of action that all of us can take.

At Miami-Dade County’s AOA meeting:  The Miami-Dade County Special Transportation Service (STS) (Ms. Lynnette Chiverton)  presented a very comprehensive overview of their services.  Much has been done to improve services over the last few years and there are important contact people who can help resolve problems.  Two partnerships were set up with attending agencies to link with STS to share information more directly.  Do you know about the Employment Enhancement Project?  Michael Cardello spoke about this important option.  What about Building Better Futures at the UM-NSU CARD Program?  You may want to contact Dr. Lynnette Estrada for more information.  It was also announced that Nature Links was being featured on WLRN.

At Broward County’s AOA meeting:  The Mental Health Association of Southeast Florida hosted our meeting (thanks to Mr. Paul Jaquith, CEO and Ms. Marcia Pinck, Education & Outreach) and provided a grand tour of their amazing 9Muses Art Center.  If you are someone who loves art and people, please make an effort to stop by and get to know about this program.  You can get involved.  We are also grateful to learn about MHA’s Connections-Community Resources issue (You can get the online version at  Did you know that the MHA also has programs for children as well as adults? And of course, they have all kinds of groups and classes throughout the week.   Ms. Lesly Lopez Quinn provided a comprehensive overview on the issue of disability benefits in regards to levels of employment.  There were so many questions which certainly showed that we all need to have a better understanding of this area to really guide adults to make this critically important decision about employment without losing benefits.  If you serve adults with disabilities who receive SSI or SSDI, it will be important to talk to Lesly and her Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program (WIPA) Project for South Florida. We also heard from Ms. Lydia Ocasio-Stoutenburg on Partners in Policymaking (6-month program for Advocates and Self-Advocates in Orlando) from the FL Developmental Disabilities Council.  Lydia also provide us an update on the new HB 7003 which creates several new programs (see Announcements below).  Thanks to Ms. Erin Kozlowski, we also had an update on Special Olympics medical exams program which in partnership with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital helps families who are unable to get all the assistance they need.

At the Monroe County’s AOA meeting:  Ms. Kristine McAniff from Keys Konnection identified a special need in the Keys:   very limited number of group homes so most go to Miami-Dade for services.  The Monroe AOA welcomed the new APD (Agency for Persons with Disabilities) representative in the Keys:  Sherab Chodron.  She currently oversees MDC and Monroe as APD Regional Program Administrator with a goal of connecting resources throughout both counties.  She provided an overview of the current services and needs.  A significant part of the AOA Monroe meeting was developing priorities and goals for 2016.  The AOA has filled a considerable gap in the Keys by promoting linkages and improving communication among the diverse set of agencies.  A set of specific needs was developed so there is clear focus on what needs to be done.




Florida Center for Inclusive Communities (FCIC)

Guardianship Impact on Transition Planning.

When:  Wednesday, March 16

Time:  5PM to 6PM

Audio access by phone:  1-888-670-3525

Participant code:  358-688-7907

Featuring Keynote Speaker:  Nina Gregory

Click here to access the flyer!


STEPS CONFERENCE-Call for Volunteers

If you or someone you know would like to volunteer for this year’s STEPS CONFERENCE, please register at   STEPS-CONFERENCE-VOLUNTEERS



I’m happy to report that the final revisions are being made to the latest Miami-Dade Emergency Preparedness Guide this week.  We are so grateful to our great friends at Miami-Dade Emergency Management who have worked so hard to create and publish a really accessible information guide for our community.


CONNECTIONS (The MHA of Southeast Florida Publication on Community Resources in Broward County)

Please visit this website that has a comprehensive listing of agencies serving special needs in Broward County.  It provides excellent summaries of various programs available within agencies.  Go to



CS/HB 7003: Individuals with Disabilities:  

GENERAL BILL by Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee ; State Affairs Committee ; Caldwell ; (CO-INTRODUCERS) Ahern ; Campbell ; Pilon

Individuals with Disabilities; Establishes Financial Literacy Program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities within DFS; requires department to develop & implement program in consultation with specified stakeholders; requires qualified public depository to participate in Financial Literacy Program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities; creates “Employment First Act”; requires specified state agencies & organizations to develop & implement interagency cooperative agreement; requires DEO, in consultation with other entities, to create Florida Unique Abilities Partner Program. APPROPRIATION: $599,482.00

Effective Date: 7/1/2016
Last Action: 1/21/2016 – Chapter No. 2016-3
Location: Became Law
Bill Text: PDF




For an interactive and fun workshop sponsored by the National Disability Institute, please go to  Financial Wellness-Train-the-Trainer Event



For more information, please go to:


EARLY STEPS Workshop for Parents

Parents of ages 6 months to 3 years.

Topic:  Cognition, How to Communicate with Your Child Through Play

Presenters:  Melisa A. Brown, CCC-SLP

Lissette Collazo, LCSW

Date:  Thursday April 21st, 2016

Time:  5:30PM to 7:00PM

At the Palmetto Bay Outpatient Center

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital

17615 Franjo Road

Conference Room.

Limited registration:  contact Joan Holcomb, Family Resource Specialist at 786-624-2615


VITA PROGRAM Partners Notice from IRS

The IRS understands that there is a continuous demand among people to access information where they are, whether it’s on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Social media is at the top of the list to help people get to their real-time demands.

Here at the IRS we realize that social media is a great resource to deliver accurate and consistent outreach to millions of people. We know that you – along with other IRS partners – actively use social media to reach your target audience, promoting the work you do through the VITA or TCE program. We want to help you expand on these efforts.

To help expand the use of social media for outreach, each month we will provide you with a social media toolkit. This toolkit will include monthly calendars with customized ready-made messages for you to use on your specific social media platform(s).

Please take a moment to go through the first toolkit that’s attached for your use. You will find a suite of timely messages and tips on how to use them.

We also encourage you to “follow,” “like,” “retweet” and “share” messages issued from the IRS social media accounts. IRS participates in several social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr andYouTube. More information on IRS’s social media presence can be found in Publication 5102Social Media: Equipping You.




Thursday, March 17

Marathon Airport, MM 52 Overseas Highway, Gulfside

10:00AM to 5:30PM

Sponsored by the Domestic Abuse Shelter, Inc.

Bring your resume, complete an employment application on-site and participate i an on site pre-screening interview.



APD Is recruiting in Monroe County for: Waiver Support Coordinators (Keys-wide), Licensed Behavioral Therapists (Keys-wide), and Residential Habilitation/Group Home Providers (Middle & Upper Keys).



Provides on-the-job training and follow up services so individuals with developmental disabilities can maintain competitive employment.

AA Degree in Human Services or related discipline. Two years working with disadvantage persons, social services or related field.

Computer literate. Bilingual (English/Spanish highly desirable.  Position will be at the 2104 W. Commercial Blvd. Office in Ft. Lauderdale.

Contact:  Jerry McSwain

Human Services Manager

Goodwill Industries of South Florida, Inc.

(954) 497-2210 Office

(954) 605-3744 Cell

(954)497-3270 Fax


Best wishes from your AOA Facilitators