Virginia to Give "Real Choice" to People With Disabilities

Technology, Web sites to be improved through grant

by / September 22, 2006
Governor Timothy Kaine has announced that Virginia has been awarded up to $3 million, five-year federal grant to help build a long-term support system to allow seniors and people with disabilities to live in the setting of their choice. The grant award was announced by the Governor following a meeting in Richmond with U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt.

Virginia is one of eight states awarded the "Real Choice Systems Change Grant for Community Living," with a goal of transforming the commonwealth's long-term support system from one that leans toward institutional care to one that provides easy access to services and supports in the community. The project dramatically enhances the role that individuals have in determining the amount, scope, and providers of their services. Improvements in technology and the use of Web-based portals will be pivotal to the success of this project.

"This grant will help move Virginia closer to its vision of "One Community" for all citizens -- a community that welcomes seniors and individuals with disabilities and supports them as active, valued and productive neighbors and citizens," Kaine said. "This enables disabled and elderly individuals to live in the most integrated community setting suited to their needs, to have meaningful choices about their living arrangements, and to exercise more control over the services they receive."

"These grants will help states take full advantage of the opportunities to reform their Medicaid long-term care systems offered by the recently passed Deficit Reduction Act of 2006 and remove barriers to equality for the 54 million Americans living with disabilities," Secretary Leavitt said. "They will help persons with disabilities exercise meaningful choices about how and where to live their lives."

States receiving grant money had to address at least three of six goals
  • Development of information technology to support community living
  • Improving access to information regarding the full range of community-based services available
  • Promulgation of more self-directed service delivery systems
  • Implementation of comprehensive quality management system
  • Flexible financing arrangements that promote community living options
  • Long-term supports coordinated with affordable and accessible housing
In addition, Kaine announced the reappointment of Julie A. Stanley as Director of Community Integration for People with Disabilities, a position she has held since 2004. Kaine also announced that Ed Turner will serve as a Special Advisor to the Governor on Disability Issues. Turner is a recognized expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). "Combined with today's grant announcement, these appointments should signal our administration's strong commitment to work every day to improve the lives of our citizens," Kaine said.

Gina M. Scott Writer