VIDEO: Am I Eligible for Brokerage Services?

Check out this excerpt from our upcoming online version of our popular Brokerage 101 presentation: “Am I Eligible for Brokerage Services in Oregon?”

This short video explains how a person becomes eligible for brokerage services, with a brief explanation of the difference between an intellectual and developmental disability diagnosis. You’ll learn more about Portland metro area brokerages and how to get connected.

Please visit for more information.



VIDEO: What is a Brokerage Personal Agent?

Check out this excerpt from our upcoming online version of our popular Brokerage 101 informational presentation. This module is: “What Is a Personal Agent?”

A Personal Agent’s job is to connect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with resources in the community, both paid and unpaid.

There are four primary roles of the personal agent. A PA is a navigator, so your primary link to accessing and understanding resources and services. An additional role that we play is as an advocate. So we’re support that you can rely on when you need help with others. Brokerages across the state require all of our Personal Agents to show up to every IEP meeting that they’re invited to. We have long-standing local area agreements with Vocational Rehabilitation offices to ensure a smoother set of services for you and your family.

Another essential role Personal Agents play is that of Connector. If you’re looking for a particular resource, you should give us a call and we’ll see if we know about it. One key facet of our design is that we support people with getting connected with providers. That might mean sharing resumes and information on Personal Support Workers or taking tours of provider agencies in your area. It could mean helping you interview potential supports or sharing brochures, links, and information on organizations that we believe would be potential fit. We’re told by customers that this is really is a key piece of the services that we offer.

And then, finally, there is the formal Medicaid-funded role of Case Manager. That’s where the paperwork comes in. We’re here to make sure that any of the services that are being paid for through your plan follow state and federal guidelines.

Stay tuned for additional videos on brokerage services!

Independence Northwest Offering Brokerage 101 Forums in Nov/Dec 2014


In November and December 2014, Independence Northwest will be offering a series of forums:  Brokerage 101: A Primer on Support Services. The forums are designed for people new to brokerage services – whether just recently referred (in the last year) or considering their options for in-home and community-based supports. You’ll learn where brokerages come from, what we do, and what to expect from our services. These presentations are perfect for students in transition and their families! Topics include: eligibility, funding, the K Plan, the Adult Needs Assessment, case management services, support service options, provider options, person-centered planning, supported employment, and more!

Join us to have your questions answered!

Thursday, November 13th from 5:30 – 7:00 PM
Tuesday, December 16th from 5:30 – 7:00 PM

Independence Northwest
919 NE 19th Avenue Suite 275 in Portland

RSVP by calling 503.546.2950 or emailing (Space is limited to 30 per session.)

Tomorrow 11/26/2013: Join Us at the Portland Public Schools Community Transition Resource Fair from 12 – 7


Join Us at the Portland Public School Transition Resource Fair tomorrow from 12 noon to 7PM. The fair will be held on the Green Thumb campus: 6801 SE 60th Avenue in Portland. INW will be there along with the other metro area brokerages. We’ll also be putting on a couple of presentations related to brokerage services. See you there!


  • 1:00- Transition Requirements:  Setting the Stage for successful Movement from High School to Adulthood
  • 1:30- PCC Disabilities
  • 2:00-Portland Public Schools
  • Community Transition Program                    
  • 2:30- Brokerage Service Basics
  • 3:15- Changes to Brokerage Services
  • 4:00- Transition Students and Alumni
  • 4:45- Plan for Work: Work Incentives Planning and Assistance- Plan for Work
  • 5:30- Phame/Club Impact

Meet up with many organizations supporting adults with I/DD in our community, including:

  • PPS Transition Program
  • Student-Run Businesses
  • PCC- Culinary Program
  • PCC- Skills Center
  • PCC-Disability Services
  • Incight
  • Trips Inc.
  • Special Olympics
  • Off the Couch
  • Club Impact
  • Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp
  • ARC
  • Oregon RISE
  • 211 Info.
  • IEP Partners
  • Safety Zone
  • Oregon First
  • Disability Rights of Oregon
  • Autism Society of Oregon
  • FACT Oregon
  • NAMI
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Portland Habilitation Center- PHC
  • CTP Vocational Training
  • DePaul- Project Search
  • Pathways to Independence
  • Independence Northwest
  • Inclusion
  • Mentor Oregon Brokerage
  • UCP Connections
  • Multnomah County Aging and Disabilities
  • Multnomah County DD
  • WIPA Program
  • RideWise
  • Albertina Kerr
  • On the Move

May 30th, 2013: Great Expectations – Preparing for Life After School Workshop

greatexpectationsflyerFACT (Family and Community Together)Oregon Consortium of Family Networks and the DD Coalition present “Great Expectations: Preparing for Life After School,” a workshop for students and families. It’s scheduled for May 30th, 2013 from 9am to 3pm. The event will be held at the Ambridge Event Center at 1333 NE MLK Jr Boulevard in Portland. Cost is $5 and lunch is included.

The training is for parents, students and professionals.

Apr 17th, 2013: Join PPS Community Transition Program and Portland Brokerages for Evening Info Sessions Throughout 2013

PPSTeasFlyerDo you have questions about school transition services after high school?

Want to learn more about the Portland Public Schools Community Transition Program?

Do you have questions about services for adults with developmental disabilities?

Want to learn more about brokerage services?

Join PPS and the five Portland metro brokerages in 2013 for an evening informational tea! We’ll do a short presentation on the transition program as well as brokerage services. The evening teas will include light refreshments and tea – and an opportunity for you to meet with PPS and brokerage staff. Get your questions answered and learn more about programs available to young adults in transition.

The fourth tea is April 17th. The event will be held at UCP Connections.Please RSVP by calling 503.916.5817. See you there!

Future events:
May 23rd, 2013 – Hosted at Community Pathways

All teas start at 6pm and end at 7:30pm

See flyer for details. Click here: PPSBrokerageInformationalTeas2013

FACT Seeking Parents for Parent Mentor Program


An important message from FACT’s (Families and Community Together) Executive Director, Roberta Dunn:

On behalf of Family and Community Together, I would like to invite you to become a part of FACT’s Parent to Parent [P2P] Mentor Program!

As you know, sometimes raising a child experiencing disability can be overwhelming, and may leave you feeling like the only person in the world facing these challenges. FACT P2P parent mentors share their experiences as parents and what they have learned – that having a child experiencing disability is just a part of a whole life… A life that will be beautiful, messy, smooth, and bumpy, just like most lives are. Mentors also listen with an empathetic ear because they have “been there.”

FACT’s parent mentors are a special group of volunteers who are trained to help support caretakers, whether they are parents, grandparents, siblings, or anyone else who has a family member experiencing disability. Parent mentors can be extremely helpful when someone is navigating through special education; with this in mind, FACT is particularly interested in identifying parent mentors available to support a family in preparing for and participating in their child’s IEP.

FACT believes that families are our greatest resource! Indeed, it is your personal experience and understanding of the particular challenges, joys, and milestones that come with raising a child experiencing disability that makes you such a powerful ally to a parent, whether s/he is just starting out in this journey or is further along. Because we know parenting does not stop at age 21, FACT continues to provide parent mentors who can assist others across a person’s lifespan.

As a parent mentor, you will join hundreds of other parents who are providing support, information, and resources to others across the country. FACT P2P is the Oregon chapter of the national Parent to Parent USA organization which has roots dating back to 1971. Parent to Parent USA now has chapters helping families in 27 states.

If interested, please see the P2P Mentor Application for the Parent Mentor application (available in English and Spanish). Parents with prior experience supporting families in the IEP process as an IEP partner are highly encouraged to apply!

Mar 20th, 2013: Join PPS Community Transition Program and Portland Brokerages for Evening Info Sessions Throughout 2013

PPSTeasFlyerDo you have questions about school transition services after high school?

Want to learn more about the Portland Public Schools Community Transition Program?

Do you have questions about services for adults with developmental disabilities?

Want to learn more about brokerage services?

Join PPS and the five Portland metro brokerages in 2013 for an evening informational tea! We’ll do a short presentation on the transition program as well as brokerage services. The evening teas will include light refreshments and tea – and an opportunity for you to meet with PPS and brokerage staff. Get your questions answered and learn more about programs available to young adults in transition.

The third tea is March 20th. The event will be held at Inclusion Inc. Please RSVP by calling 503.916.5817. See you there!

Future events:
Apr 17th, 2013 – Hosted at UCP Connections
May 23rd, 2013 – Hosted at Community Pathways

All teas start at 6pm and end at 7:30pm
See flyer for details. Click here: PPSBrokerageInformationalTeas2013

House Bill 2283 and Transition Services

The Department of Human Services  released the following transmittal this morning. It relates to House Bill 2283 and the responsibilities of school districts, brokerages, and Vocational Rehabilitation with regard to service provision for adults in transition.

The content of this message was jointly composed by representatives of the Oregon Department of Education, Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Oregon Department of Human Service’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Office of Developmental Disability Services. This same message will be distributed by the ODE, OCDD, and OVRS to their respective stakeholders.

The passage of House Bill (HB) 2283 is causing some confusion regarding the implementation of services for youth with disabilities ages 18 through 21. The two main areas of concern are the provision of “other” services by non-educational agencies and the interagency agreement.

The intent of HB 2283 was to ensure all students have access to instructional hours, hours of transition services and hours of other services that are designed to:

1) Meet the unique needs of the student; and,
2) When added together, provide a total number of hours of instruction and services to the student that equals at least the total number of instructional hours that is required to be provided to students who are attending a public high school (990 hrs/yr.)

HB 2283 encourages collaboration among all agencies providing services to the student. However, education, human services, Community Developmental Disability Programs, support service brokerage and employment programs cannot supplant services that are the responsibility of another agency. A copy of this bill can be viewed here.

The purpose of this transmittal is to inform the field that the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), the Office of Developmental Disability Services (DD), and the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) have joined forces to clarify implementation of this new law, so that all partners can continue to focus on the outcomes for this group of students. Until the final education rules are in place and agreements are announced, this transmittal is providing you guidance in your work relationships with other agencies.

General Information about Education Expectations

• Students on IEPs are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) through their 21st year, or until they earn an Oregon high school diploma.
• A school district or public charter school cannot unilaterally decrease the total number of hours of instruction and services provided to students. As required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the IEP team determines services that are needed to meet the unique needs of the student. If the IEP team determines that fewer than 990 hours should be provided, a written statement that explains the reasons for the reduction must be included on the IEP.
• Transition is not a “program” but a coordinated set of activities designed to facilitate successful movement from school to post school activities. It takes the coordinated efforts of many partners for a student’s transition to be successful.
• Educational transition activities include instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. School districts are not responsible for the development of employment. Schools are responsible for helping develop the skills needed to reach the employment objectives. They are not responsible for identifying an actual paid job and providing the support in the job. In 1997, the intent of IDEA was to make certain that in addressing transition, IEPs were not just based on traditional academic goals/objectives, but would be addressing the post school vision of each student. Thus, in 2004 regulation for post–secondary goals was established.
• The IEP must include measurable post-secondary goals in the areas of education, training, and employment and where appropriate, independent living skills. School districts are required to get the student ready to meet these post-secondary goals. Annual transition goals, transition services, and courses of study are educational requirements needed to assist the student to reach those post-secondary goals. IDEA also requires IEP teams to invite to the IEP meeting other agencies who may provide or pay for services.

General Agency (non educational) Expectations
• The Medicaid Waiver funding cannot be used to fund transition activities considered the responsibility of education.
• Collaboration among non-education agencies and school districts is permitted and encouraged in HB 2283. The hours of services that are not educational, provided during the school day, and paid for or provided by non-education agencies may be included in the calculation of the total hours of service. However, this is dependent on a mutually agreed IEP that is consistent with the requirements and program guidelines of each partner. Services provided by non-education agencies after school hours are not to be considered educational services and cannot be counted in the calculation of the total hours of service.
• Mutually agreed upon transition and other services provided by non-education entities may be provided at any time during the day but must not supplant required educational services. Transition services and other services may be provided to the student through an interagency agreement entered into by the school district if the student’s IEP indicates that the services may be provided by another agency. An agency is not required to change any eligibility criteria or enrollment standards prior to entering into an interagency agreement

More specific guidance will be issued once the cross-agency agreements are made on coordination of these critical transition activities. In the meantime do not hesitate to contact your state liaison for further explanation or clarification. Thank you for all you do for the students in Oregon as we prepare them to become healthy, productive and satisfied adults within their communities.

If you have any questions about this information, contact Mike Maley at 503-947-4228 or

SAVE THE DATE: 11.22.11 Portland Public Schools Adult Transition Resource Fair

SAVE THE DATE: 11/22/11. Announcing the 2nd Annual Portland Public Schools Transition Resource Fair. Please join us as we partner with dozens of organizations to help bring you a resource fair for transition-aged individuals and their families. Please pass this on to your networks. We look forward to seeing you at the fair!

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
12 noon to 7pm

Community Transition Center at Green Thumb

6801 SE 60th Avenue (just south of Duke)

Travel Tip: Bus #19 runs on Duke Street

The resource fair is for transition aged youth (14 – 21), families, special educators, professionals and transition specialists in Multnomah County. You’ll learn about resources and services available throughout the community. It’s an opportunity to make connections, ask questions and explore opportunities.

Exhibitors and Speakers include:

Oregon RISE
211 Info
IEP Partners
Safety Zone
SPEAC Advisory Council
Oregon First
Disability Compass
Disability Rights Oregon
Autism Society of Oregon
SEPTAP (Special Education PTA of Portland)

Brokerages (Independence Northwest, Community Pathways, UCP Connections, Inclusion Inc., Mentor Oregon)
Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services
Social Security Administration
Multnomah County Housing

Portland Community College: Culinary Program
Portland Community College: Skills Center
Portland Community College: Disability Services

Trips Inc.
Portland Parks and Rec
Vibe Dance Troupe
Off the Couch
Club Impact

Ticket to Work Program
Vocational Rehabilitation
Portland Habilitation Center (PHC)
CTP Vocational Training
DePaul Project Search

Full Life
Art from the Heart
Project Grow (info only)
On the Move Community Integration
Independent Living Program (The Inn)


– Community Transition Program
– Transition Requirements
– Aging and Disability Services
– Social Security Benefits
– Brokerage Basics
– Parent Panel
– Student Panel
– Work Incentives

Please join us! And pass this on to anyone you believe might be interested. We look forward to seeing you at the fair.

Facebook event link:

Materials for Print/Sharing:

Russian Transition Fair Flyer 
English Transition Fair Flyer
Vietnamese Transition Fair Flyer
Spanish Transition Fair Flyer

6th Annual Youth Transition Conference: Building Futures

6th Annual Building Futures Youth with Disabilities Secondary Transition Conference

October 24th & 25th, 2011  at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel  

8235 Northeast Airport Way Portland, Oregon 97220

Building Futures is for youth with disabilities and anyone who has an interest in supporting youth with disabilities as they transition from school to adult life.

This includes Secondary Educators, Post Secondary Educators, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, Special Educators, therapists, counselors, service providers, job developers, and other rehabilitation specialists, and especially secondary students with disabilities and their families.

Throughout this two-day event there will be presentations by regional and national experts on issues surrounding secondary transition, post-secondary transition, employment, higher education and assistive technology.

If you would like to sponsor this annual event or receive more information, please contact Karen Ripplinger at: 503.581.8156 ext. 210 or

Survey for Young Adults with Disabilities – Chance for a $20 Gift Card for Participants

From, National Youth Leadership Network, Oregon Health Sciences University, Oregon Public Health Division, and Women with Disabilities Health Equity Coalition:

Young people with disabilities have been under represented, and sometimes left out, in developing policies and programs for sexual and reproductive health.  In Oregon, a small work group, with support from the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, is developing some program and policy recommendations to support young people with disabilities. The link below is a survey targeting young people with disabilities to assess their opinions about these recommendations.

The survey is about 15 questions and should take 15 minutes to take.  We’re specifically interested in the opinions of young people in the U.S. who have a disability.  An incentive of a $20 gift card from a nationally known on-line retail store is provided for the first 50 respondents. 

This is a joint project between, National Youth Leadership Network, Oregon Health Sciences University, Oregon Public Health Division, and Women with Disabilities Health Equity Coalition. Thank you for your partnership.
If you have any questions, please contact:
Lesa Dixon-Gray at 971-673-0360, or Julie McFarlane at 971-673-0365.
Thanks to Kathryn Weit for the tip.

JULY 25 – 29: Join Emerging Leaders Northwest for the Dream It Do It Academy for Youth

You are invited to attend the Emerging Leaders Northwest Dream It Do It Academy for Youth With Disabilities & Chronic Illness Ages 18 –25 on July 25 – 29th, 2011 at Shriners Hospital in Portland.
At the Dream It Do It Academy, you will learn to:
Live a Healthy Lifestyle!
Be More Independent!
Eat Right!
Develop Your Own Exercise Plan!
Take Charge of Your Healthcare!
Make Friends!
Become a leader!

For application and registration information:
Chuck Davis: 503.494.3281,
Sponsored by: Emerging Leaders Northwest

Washington County Planning Meeting to Discuss Transitional Programs after High School

Planning Meeting to Discuss Transitional Programs after High School

Please join us for a meeting to discuss ideas and options for our special need students that are transitioning from high school to adult life.

When: April 21, 2011 5:00pm-6:30pm

Where: Tigard High School Library

Topics for Discussion:

  • Day Programs
  • Respite Care
  • Employment
  • Alternatives to Employment
  • Housing/Group Homes
  • Transportation

Representatives from The Edwards Center, Washington County ARC and Quiet Waters are planning on being there to give a presentation about their programs. Please contact Ed Casuga at 503-314-7089 or Danielle Johnson at 503-431-4580 with any questions.

APRIL 20: Project Employ Mini-Conference & Information Fair

From Project Employ:
We are delighted to invite you as well as students and their families to the PROJECT EMPLOY Transition to Employment Resource Fair!  This FREE event is designed to assist students with intellectual and developmental disabilities age 16-21 years of age and their families learn about the resources and services available to assist them in their pursuit to successful employment and/or higher education.
We will feature a variety of workshops, speakers, and exhibitors providing information about transition and employment services.  There will be representation from Support Service Brokerages, Developmental Disability Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Benefits Counseling and much, much more!

Project Employ Mini-Conference & Information Fair

Wednesday – April 20, 2011 – 3:30 to 8:00pm

Westview High School

4200 NW 185th Avenue – Portland, OR 97229


Confused about your rights as a student in transition?

Have questions about school practices, responsibilities and the law?

Looking for resources and contacts?

Need expert opinion and guidance on school-related issues?

Want to connect with other students and families?

As part of its commitment to demystifying the transition process for adults with disabilities, Independence Northwest is partnering with Disability Rights Oregon to bring you a great resource in the month of October. Susana Ramirez, the Special Education Advocate for Disability Rights Oregon, will be presenting “Understanding Your Rights as a Transition Student”. The training is designed for students and their families as well as professionals interested in learning about increasing their advocacy skills.

Join us Wednesday October 27th from 4 – 6pm at the Independence Northwest office located at 541 NE 20th Avenue Suite 103 in Portland. We’re just off Glisan and 20th in the Jantzen Building.

Please take a moment to RSVP so we know you’ll be joining the conversation. Contact Summer Rose at Independence Northwest via phone (503.546.2950) or email ( to register. You can RSVP via Facebook here. This presentation is FREE and light refreshments will be served.

Susana Ramírez has been advocating for the rights of children and adults with disabilities with Disability Rights Oregon for the last 9 years.  Susana brings a skill set combining her personal experiences as a parent advocate at the state and national level and her professional expertise in special education law and community organizing.

OCT 16: Preparing for Adulthood – Social Security, Benefits Planning and Guardianship

Announcing an upcoming workshop for high school transitioning students and their families.

In collaboration with Project Employ, Family and Community Together (FACT) will be hosting Preparing for Adulthood—SSI/SSDI, Benefits Planning, and Guardianship,” on Saturday, October 16, 2010, from 9am – 1pm, at the Arc of Washington County—4450 SW 184th Avenue in Aloha, 97007.

This FREE workshop is open to ALL interested families in the Tri-County Metro.

  • Alan Edwards from the Social Security Administration will be presenting information on SSI/SSDI.
  • Eugene Rada from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (OVRS), Competitive Employment Project, will speak on benefits planning—preserving an individual’s benefits while pursuing employment.
  • A parent panel will share their perspectives as each came to their decisions of pursuing or not pursuing guardianship.

OCT 12: Navigating High School Transition – Beaverton

ARRO Westside Family and Community Center
2360 SW 170th Ave, Beaverton, Oregon

Tuesday, October 12 th
6:30-8:00 PM

ARRO (Autism Research and Resources of Oregon) will be hosting a panel discussion on high school transition for teens with Autism.  The panel will feature Jonathan Chase, Peter Fitzgerald, and David Abramowitz, discussing the ins and outs of transition out of high school and into adulthood as it relates to teens with Autism.  Topics will include pre-high school planning, writing long-term goals into an IEP, eligibility and services in high school, and how the various agencies and services interact with families and the public school system.  The panel will also be taking questions and offering advice specific to the laws in the state of Oregon.

Jonathan Chase is an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome and a member of the Autism Society of Oregon’s board of directors.  Peter Fitzgerald works with the Youth Transition Program with the University of Oregon and has over 30 years of experience as a special ed teacher and transition specialist.  David Abramowitz also has over 30 years of experience working with transition-age teens and their families in the Eugene school district.  Jonathan, Peter, and David all serve on the Transition Subcommittee on the Oregon Commission on ASD.

This event is open to the public and will offer information helpful to parents of children with Autism who are currently in high school or looking ahead to high school in the future.  Teens and adults with ASD, service providers, and professionals are welcome to attend and ask questions. The forum will be held at the ARRO Westside Family and Community Center and a $5 donation is suggested, but not required, to help support our efforts to support the autism community and develop resources that meet the needs of our families and individuals with autism throughout their life and throughout the spectrum of ability.  Handouts, refreshments, and coffee will be available.

Walk-ins are welcome, but RSVP’s would be appreciated.  Please email Jonathan@JonathanChase.Net if you plan to attend or have any questions.

Oct 1st ASO Conference: Navigating Life as an Adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Believe in Possibilities, Navigating Life as an Adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism Society of Oregon‘s fall Conference will be for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, their parents/caregivers and professionals working with the adult population.

The conference will be on Friday, October 1st at the Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR (more details here).

There will be several break out sessions on various topics and an exhibition hall of agencies and non-profits who supports adults with ASD.

View agenda

Register Online

Attention Washington County Students 16 – 21

Have you and your family been wondering what you will be doing when you finish school?

Starting a career?
Going to community college?
Getting that first job?
Moving out of your parent’s home?

Although most students think about these questions, sometimes it is harder to imagine if you are a person with a disability. One major step is having a job. You may want this, but you and your family may not be sure how to make this happen.

If you are a student, ages 16-21 years old with intellectual and developmental disabilities, PROJECT EMPLOY would like to talk with you and your family. Starting in September, we will be working with families in Washington County and the Sherwood, Beaverton, Gaston, Forest Grove, and Banks School Districts to support students towards having jobs in the community upon leaving school at age twenty-one.

PROJECT EMPLOY will provide training on Person Centered Planning—which lays out a future for you, employment related supports, and advocacy. Since it takes lots of work to get and keep a job, everyone including you, your family and support team will all be expected to do their part. PROJECT EMPLOY will hold monthly gatherings starting in September and continue through the school year. One major event will be for you and your family to spend a day with your support team in November or early December creating a Person Centered Plan to lay out plans towards your future after school ends.

We will be taking applications through September, but are signing-up families starting in August. We would like to hear from you, now!


Arlene Jones: , (503) 329-6809 or
Tara Asai: or (503) 706-3273.

Rally Against Special Education Budget Cuts at PPS

From an email distributed by UCP’s Family Support Program:

When:  August 23rd, 2010

Where: Portland School District Administration Office

501 N. Dixon

Portland  OR  97086

Time:   6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

A broad coalition of parents, educators, advocates, and non-profits have coalesced around the budget cuts to Special Education (SPED) recently announced by Portland Public Schools. This evening they will turn out in full force to support equity in education for ALL students in PPS, give testimony and request that the Superintendent and PPS Board reconsider their decision to cut SPED resources.

On June 30th, 2010 PPS announced a $3.3 million reduction from the previously approved budget for SPED, eliminating approximately 20 teaching positions and 51 paraeducator positions. While PPS claims they can provide Maintenance of Effort (MOE) despite these cuts, many parents and staff question how this is possible when they are already struggling to adequately serve students receiving special education services.

Media Contact: Chloe Eudaly

503-867-4304 or

Project Employ Starts in Washington County

The Arc of Oregon has received grant funding to implement a new project to assure the successful transition for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities from school to competitive community employment. PROJECT EMPLOY targets youth (16-21 years) with intellectual and developmental disabilities that have been typically labeled as “unemployable” and referred to community inclusion programs rather than being considered for competitive employment.  PROJECT EMPLOY will provide training for these students’ families, school personnel, and community professionals to bridge transition from school to community employment.  Support teams will receive training and technical assistance in the following areas:

  • Person-Centered Planning and how to apply this to Individual Education Plans (schools), Individual Support Plans (DD services), and Individual Plans for Employment (OVRS).
  • Developing and implementing effective school and community supports that lead to post high school employment.
  • Peer mentoring of effective advocacy strategies that support self-determination.

As a region with a mix of urban and rural that provides opportunities for learning, Washington County has been selected for the initial year of this 3-year project.  In subsequent years, PROJECT EMPLOY will expand to two other regions of the state.  We are currently seeking interested Washington County school districts that wish to learn with us and are willing to commit staff resources. Participating school personnel would be expected to attend an initial meeting (late August / early September), a one-day training with other professionals on Statewide In-service Day (October), six hours of training with participating students/families (November), and monthly Project meetings (December-June). In lieu of an April meeting, Project Employ will sponsor an Employment Resource Fair where students can learn about summer internships and schools will have the opportunity to share information about their programs. Teams will have access to additional technical assistance as needed and will be expected to provide data on students’ progress.

By supporting and mentoring all members of the students’ teams, the expectation is that by age 21, students will be employed in community jobs. For ages 16-20, it is expected that students will participate in appropriate vocational activities and work experiences during the school year and in jobs or paid internships during the summers.

Please join us in supporting students’ transitions to work.  If interested, please contact Tara Asai, The Arc of Oregon: or at (503) 706-3273.

Metro Area Brokerages to Add Capacity through Summer

There are currently five support services brokerages supporting individuals with developmental disabilities in the Portland metro area. In the last year, capacity in brokerages has become an issue as we all reached our contracted limits with the Department of Human Services.

After discussions with stakeholders, the Department of Human Services has announced initial expansion plans to create capacity for those who have been waiting. During the months of August and September, four of the five metro brokerages will add staff to allow for an additional 90 individuals to begin receiving services. The expansion of services was announced prior to the recent across-the-board budgetary cuts. Due to the current climate, plans beyond October are not yet clear.

This expansion is a statewide effort and capacity is being added to counties and brokerages statewide.

Independence Northwest grew by leaps and bounds in its first two years (opening 450 customers in a record 18 months) and for this and other reasons, we have chosen not to increase our contracted capacity at this time. We applaud the efforts of the Department of Human Services and our fellow brokerages statewide.

Special Education: A Guide for Parents & Advocates

Disability Rights Oregon has created an excellent guide to assist you through the Special Education experience. The guide was written to provide parents and advocates with accurate information and answers to questions about special education for children enrolled in Oregon’s public schools from Kindergarten to age 21.

Check out the guide in English or Spanish.

Solar Waffle Works – Benefits Young Adults in Portland Public Schools

Portland Public Schools has partnered with Soltrekker to develop Solar Waffle Works, NE Portland’s first solar-powered waffle cart. The cart is a training program in a socially responsible business and entrepreneurship, designed and operated by young adults in the community transition program.

Visit them at: NE 23rd Avenue and Alberta Street

Hours: 11am – 2pm Monday through Friday | 9am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday.

Thanks to Allison Hintzman for the tip.

From PPS News:

A new solar-powered food cart in Northeast Portland serves up more than waffles.

Located at Northeast Alberta Street and 23rd Avenue (map), Solar Waffle Works is a nonprofit project that helps high school graduates gain independent living skills and vocational training.

The young adults involved are part of the PPS Community Transition Program, which helps recent graduates transition to life after high school.

Corinne Thomas-Kersting, CTP administrator, says Solar Waffle Works benefits students by making them active partners in the creation and management of a socially responsible start-up.

“This project gets them out of the classroom and into the real world,” Thomas-Kersting says. “That hands-on experience is incredibly valuable.”

Students designed the cart, which is a small blue trailer, from start to finish: They helped create the business plan, the logo, the marketing concepts and the menu, and worked on preparing it for service. They work in the cart preparing and serving food, and assist with accounting and advertising.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Weekday revenue supports the Community Transition Program.The cart is the result of a partnership between PPS and SolTrekker, a Northeast Portland-based nonprofit dedicated to renewable energy education. A solar panel array on the cart’s roof supplies much of its power.

“It’s about a lot more than CTP students learning how to flip waffles,” says Allison Hintzmann, a CTP transition specialist who envisioned and co-created Solar Waffle Works with students and SolTrekker. “This fosters entrepreneurship while also teaching skills that will make them more employable.”

In addition to job training, Solar Waffle Works emphasizes the importance of conserving resources and reducing impact on the environment.

SolTrekker provided the trailer and added plumbing and solar components. It also contributed labor, funds and materials. Funding also came from PPS and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.

Ty Adams, founder and board chairman of SolTrekker, says his organization didn’t need any convincing to participate.

“This is a project that’s not just unique to Portland, but one that is unique nationwide,” Adams says. “It’s definitely the tastiest project we’ve ever been a part of.”

More on Community Transition Program

The Community Transition Program helps young adults achieve the greatest degree of independence and quality of life as they transition to life after high school; functions include integrating young adults into the community, increasing their access to social and leisure activities and making appropriate referrals to other services and agencies.