ATTENTION PSWs: Time Sheet Due Date Adjusted by State, Now Due Early (December 19th)

The following notice was emailed to all Personal Support Workers working with INW customers on 12/13/2016:

The state has announced that it is shortening the time you have for submitting your time sheets by one day in the next payroll cycle, due to the changeover between TNT and PPL as state fiscal intermediary. In order to receive payment on time, you must have your time sheets in no later than Monday, December 19th, 2016. Brokerage processing time has been cut as well, pretty much eliminating our flexibility on late submissions.




P.S. – If you haven’t followed up on requests to turn your paperwork in to PPL, please do so now. We continue to be concerned about the low number of PSWs who are considered “good to go” in PPL’s system. If you’re not set up properly in the system, there’s no way to get you paid on time.

Click here for the 2017 PSW Submission and Payment Schedule


Policy Change Announced: Limit on PSW Hours on a Per-Customer Basis Beginning This Fall

The State of Oregon Department of Human Services has announced another change planned for disability services in our state.

Starting September 1st, 2015, Personal Support Workers may not be newly authorized to provide more than 50 hours per week of services to a single individual receiving brokerage services. For those currently working more than 50 hours per week, their allowable work hours will be reduced at the time of the customer’s annual ISP. (Note: PSWs may still work more than 50 hours across multiple customers, just not for the same customer. The cap is at the ISP level, not the provider level.)

In a Policy Transmittal released at the end of June, the Oregon Department of Human Services explained that the policy “is being implement to position Oregon for anticipated regulation changes associated with the Fair Labor Standards Act.” Historically, domestic workers have been exempt from overtime. The FLSA changes that.

INW will be contacting affected customers and providers quarterly, prior to the customer’s annual plan renewal.

If you are interested in reading about the changes in the meantime, please read the transmittals listed below.

*This post was updated   09.12.2015 to reflect the most recent information related to the change.



Five Things That Are Working Well in Brokerage Support Services Today

By Larry Deal, Executive Director of Independence Northwest

Over the past year and a half, so much time has been spent deconstructing and reconstructing Oregon’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities system, there’s been little opportunity to sit back and celebrate some of the successes. Here are five things that are currently working well – and that deserve their moment in the sun.

People are getting more services. With the change from 100% Title XIX Waiver to a mix of K Plan and Waiver funding, Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities are getting more services than ever before. This is a wonderful thing. Historically, people in crisis situations had limited resources and little option other than out of home placement (group homes and foster care homes) whether that was their preference or not. In the new system, many Oregonians now have the resources to continue living at home; the current design supports true individual and family choice. The importance of this change cannot be overstated. (That said, there’s still a very real fiscal sustainability discussion that must be had to support these efforts long-term.)

Providers are beginning to expand capacity. This one’s a slower burner, but it’s beginning. Customers, families, and professionals have all been highly concerned about the increase in funding since it came without an ounce of provider capacity expansion planning or incentives. Oregon put the funding before the resources. In recent weeks and months, many agencies have begun reaching out to brokerages and are expanding their services to our community in everything from in-home to employment supports; in 2015, I believe we will see a tangible increase in options for our customer base.

There’s a recent willingness for course correction when things aren’t working. If you haven’t heard of DSA (Day Support Activities,) consider yourself lucky. In short, DSA was an exercise in rushed change implementation. Ultimately, it changed rates, it changed processes, and it changed the definition of certain services. The process upended Brokerage, CDDP (Community Developmental Disabilities Program) and provider organization operations and damaged the integrity of reporting systems statewide. However, collaborative efforts (led by ODDS)  amongst brokerages, CDDPs (counties), providers, and state has made a real difference. Recent changes in leadership have assured a common sense, customer-first approach to problem solving. In other words, there’s strong collaboration happening again in Oregon. This is a very good thing – let’s do more of it.

We’re sticking with our current needs assessment tool. One of the major concerns brokerages have been facing while implementing the still-new functional needs assessment has been knowing full well we’d have to change assessments again at the beginning of 2015. Recent actions from the state suggest that we will be working to make the current brokerage tool (the Adult Needs Assessment) work well into the future. For brokerage customers, this is promising. We need consistency, stability, and some time to do some in-depth analysis on the efficacy of the current tool first. This decision deserves kudos.

Perhaps most significantly, Oregon is focusing on individual goals – again. If you have been working in the system or receiving services for the last year and a half, you’ve no doubt noted the troubling focus on deficits-based language and approach. I remember being in a meeting very, very early on in the K Plan implementation when it was announced by someone with significant influence that “this is no longer about goals, it’s about needs.” Soon, that refrain began to echo. Fortunately, that interpretation is no longer alive and well. What some people didn’t understand early on in the transition process was this: Brokerages have always addressed disability-related support needs. And we have done so while helping people reach their goals. You don’t provide publicly-funded services without making sure needs are documented and necessary. A sophisticated, supportive, holistic system addresses health and safety while placing a premium on the wants, needs, and goals of the individual. We know it can work because we’ve been doing it for thirteen years. I can’t say enough how pleasing it is to hear high-ranking leaders in our state stating that goals matter.

There are many issues we must continue wrestling with: the eXPRS payment system and pending Personal Support Worker entry, the monthly versus annual services issue, the ongoing review of Behavioral Supports, changes to supported employment, and many more. But as we inch ever closer to the new year,  it’s safe to say that we all hope for continued positive developments in the Oregon I/DD service delivery system. We’re a resilient, engaged, and growing community. Fingers crossed we can focus the coming year’s efforts on enhancing, expanding, and enriching the lives and experiences of the individuals, families, and communities we support. Oregon was once at the forefront of community-based services in our country; with continued focus, effort, and partnership there’s no reason that can’t be a reality again.


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.

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!

Fall Parent Social at On The Move November 30th, 2011

Open to all community members! Announcing the Fall Parent Social put on by On-the-Move Community Integration. Meet and socialize with other parents and caregivers who are caring for an adult with developmental disabilities. Wine & appetizers will be served.

Wednesday, November 30th 2011 6:00 -7:30pm On-the-Move Community Integration, located at 4187 SE Division in Portland, Oregon.

Please RSVP to Deborah Waggoner, Community Inclusion Specialist


Caregiver’s Night Off – TOMORROW

The Edwards Center in Aloha is now providing a new program called Caregiver’s Night Off.



The first Friday of every month from 4pm-8pm, well-qualified staff and an on-site nurse will be available to provide leisure activities with your loved one 18 years and older, while you enjoy time to yourself. Only $25 for the entire evening!

Edwards Center, Milwaukie

4287 SE International Way, Suite A

Milwaukie, OR 97222

503-653-2381 for information or to register


Edwards Center, Aloha

20250 SW Kinnaman

Aloha, OR 97007

503-356-1131 for information or to register

Thanks to Mary Lanxon and Robyn Hoffman for the tip.

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.

FREE CLINIC – September 18th – Medical, Dental, Vision, Social Services, Chiropractic and More

The Downtown Compassion Connect Clinic invites you to a FREE CLINIC providing Medical, Dental, Vision, Social Services and more on September 18th from 9am – 3pm at the Portland Memorial Coliseum. Other services offered include bicycle repair, haircuts, chiropractic and a clothing bank.

Doors open at 9am

The Downtown Compassion Connect Clinic is focused on providing basic medical, dental, vision exams to meet the needs of the residents in the Central City and downtown Portland neighborhoods. They focus on people who do not have insurance or have enough insurance to cover needed services.

Free parking at the Garden Garage courtesy the Portland Trail Blazers.

Healthy Lifestyles: Dream It, Do It

Emerging Leaders Northwest, a program of the Oregon Institute on Developmental Disabilities at Oregon Health & Science University  is proud to sponsor the  3rd annual Healthy Lifestyles: Dream It, Do It!  Day Camp on August 9 – 13 at the Oregon Zoo.

Healthy Lifestyles: Dream It, Do It! is a fun, hands-on interactive experience designed to give youth with disabilities and chronic illness age 18 -25 the opportunity to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle and become more independent.   Feel free to disseminate the attached flyer and registration form to anyone you feel might be interested.

Scholarships are available.  If you have questions please contact Charles Davis (details below).

Charles E. Davis, M.S.W.
Community Liaison and Administrative Manager, UCEDD
(503) 494.3281 (p)

Multnomah County Transition Resource Fair – April 9th in Portland

Reynolds School District in collaboration with Multnomah County School Districts presents the 2010 Multnomah County Transition Resource Fair.

Time – 10am – 6pm on April 9th, 2010

Place: Four Corners, Reynolds School District
14513 SE Stark Street, Portland, OR  97233

Independence Northwest will be sharing a table with several other metro area brokerages.

The fair will include resources on jobs, self-determination, health care, housing and training available to individuals living in Multnomah County and receiving (or preparing to receive) high school transition services.

For questions, please contact Shirley Burns (503.328.0428) or Shannon Selby (503.328.0423), the co-chairs of the 2010 Transition Resource Fair.

National Disability News Resource

Disability Scoop is the first and only nationally focused online news organization serving the developmental disability community including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, fragile X and intellectual disability, among others.

Five days each week Disability Scoop sifts through the clutter to provide a central, reliable source of news, information and resources. Plus, Disability Scoop is the only place to find original content and series like “Scoop Essentials” that take an in-depth look at what lies beyond the day’s headlines.

Family Blogs on Autism

Autism Learning Felt – A website hosted by the mother of children with autism.  Full of resources and anecdotes.

Mothering Autism – Words of personal experience, opinion, and lessons learned about mothering a child on the spectrum with autism, his younger sister, marriage, finances, and seeking out a sense of self.

Autism, Aspergers and More, Oh My!Following an abrupt introduction into the world of Special Needs children after the birth of my very premature (14 weeks to be precise) son I embarked on a journey. If you are reading these words I suspect you or someone you know is traveling a similar path. My intention in these pages is to share information about the therapies and treatments that are within the scope of my experience as a parent.

Independent Living Resources

Independent Living Resources (ILR) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with all disabilities. The agency provides services using both staff and volunteers.


  • Art
  • Cooking “Individualized Assessments”
  • Crossroads Discussion (TBI) Group
  • Peer Counseling Class
  • Ready to Rent
  • Visually Impaired Support Group
  • Women’s Support Group
  • Writing Group

For class schedule see ILR’s Newsletter.

Healthy Lifestyles – Healthy Lifestyles is a self directed goal setting program to help individuals live a healthier life. This program also offers ongoing mentoring. To learn about Healthy Lifestyles, please call Sarah Gerth at 503-232-7411 or

Housing – ILR can answer many questions about housing for you. We can provide help with the following:

  • Advocacy and Education
  • Community “Tenants Rights and Responsibilities” Training
  • Fair Housing Amendments Act
  • Landlord/Tenant Mediation
  • Ready to Rent Class

Skills Instruction – At ILR we offer skills instruction, both individual and in small groups, which can help people with disabilities acquire skills to live more independently.

Examples of topics:

  • Anger management
  • Braille and Orientation & Mobility Instruction
  • Communication Skills
  • Household Management
  • Leisure/Recreation
  • Personal Safety
  • Pre-vocational Information
  • Self-Esteem
  • Social Skills

Sports/Outdoor Recreation – For people with disabilities who are interested in sports or the outdoors please join us. We offer a variety of outings and activities. Please contact Patricia Kepler at 503-232-7411 or if you are interested in learning more about our outdoor recreation program.

Volunteer Program – ILR’s services are provided by both staff and volunteers. Volunteers are essential to the success of this organization. They enable us to provide services without exceeding our budget. Volunteers serve in many capacities at ILR, including the Board of Directors, peer counselors, and teachers. Please contact Sarah Naomi Campbell if you find interest in becoming an ILR volunteer. Download Volunteer Application

STEPS Program – It’s often said that knowledge is power. STEPS empowers participants by providing information about rights and responsibilities, and helping them develop the skills needed to hire and manage Homecare Workers.Call Suzanne to sign up for the next workshop at ILR.  Each workshop is from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM, and lunch and snacks are included.  Eligible participants (see below) will receive a comprehensive handbook, follow-up services as needed, and a $25 gift card.  To register, or for more information, call the STEPS Training Coordinator (503) 232-7411 or email

WIN (Work Incentives Network) – Thinking about work but concerned about benefits? The Work Incentives Network can help you create a plan for success! WIN can help you understand how work will effect:

  • Social Security Benefits
  • Medical Benefits
  • Food Stamps
  • Housing Assistance
  • And More..

To learn more about working and disability benefits, call us at 503-232-7411 or email You can also call our partners on this project, Disability Rights Oregon, at 503-243-2081.

Impact Northwest

Impact NW’s mission is to help people achieve and maintain self-sufficiency and to prevent and alleviate the effects of poverty. In the 2007-2008 fiscal year, Impact Northwest served over 70,000 individuals.

Their clients include low-income children, adolescents, adults with disabilities, seniors, and families. Working with schools, businesses, faith communities, community-based organizations, and governmental agencies, Impact Northwest creates a safety net and springboard for Portland residents seeking to improve their quality of life.

Safety Net Services:

  • homeless family shelter
  • rent and housing assistance
  • utility assistance
  • food, clothing, transportation
  • information and referral
  • client support services
  • access to health care & income assistance

Education Support Services:

  • youth tutoring & mentoring
  • social & educational activities
  • early childhood education
  • community school coordination
  • youth development
  • before & after school activities (SUN)

Employment Support Services:

  • youth employment training
  • Richmond Place homeless transition services
  • skill-building classes
  • beyond shelter homeless transition services
  • access to vocational training
  • job referral

Community Involvement Services:

  • volunteer placement
  • student internship and work study site
  • public education
  • employee & group community service site
  • system advocacy & community organizing

Seniors and Adults with Disabilities:

  • transportation
  • advocacy/case management
  • meal sites and activity centers
  • legal and tax assistance
  • low-income energy assistance
  • shopping trips and friendly visits
  • respite
  • health promotion activities
  • multicultural events
  • service access

Need Help at an Upcoming IEP?

Looking for some assistance with an upcoming IEP for you or your child in transition? OrPTI (Oregon Parent Training and Information Center) ensures that IEP Partners available to families who could use some extra help with the IEP process.

What is the Partners Program?

The Partners Program trains and matches Partners with parents wanting support at their child’s IEP, Transition or Mediation meeting. Our goal is to have Partners in every community throughout the state of Oregon.

Who are Partners?

Partners are parents and others who have gone through a two day intensive Partner Training Program. Partners are volunteers for the Oregon Parent Training and Information Center (OrPTI). They receive a stipend for each meeting that they attend as assigned by OrPTI.

What is the role of a Partner?

Partners are not at the meeting to speak for you. Their role is to help you prepare for the meeting, plan an agenda, identify the issues, write out proposals etc. At the meeting they will take notes and act as a trained listener who is familiar with special education rules and regulations. Partners model parent/professional partnerships and collaboration.

Can I have a Partner attend my meeting?

We currently have Partners available in most areas of the state. Due to the great demand, we are only able to provide each parent with a partner for two meetings per student per school year.

To have a Partner attend your meeting you need to give the OrPTI as much notice as possible before the meeting (two weeks is preferable). If you call the day before your meeting, we may not be able to make a match, so please plan accordingly. Partners are not always available and we may not have a partner in your area. We continue to hold trainings throughout Oregon in hopes of being able to support parents in all parts of the state.

Before a Partner can contact you, a release of information form must be signed and returned to the OrPTI. This form will be provided for you by mail or email which ever you prefer. We would also appreciate you filling out a Partner Evaluation Form, your feedback is important to us, we will use the information you provide to improve this program.

To request a Partner please call the Special Education helpline at 1-888-891-6784.

Disability Secrets – Online Resource for Navigating Social Security

Disability Secrets is an online resource for applying for Social Security and navigating the appeals process.

About the site:

The purpose of this site is to distribute information that, typically, is impossible to get from the person taking your claim for SSD and SSI benefits. In essence, applying for disability and SSI benefits might as well be a secret process since Social Security does not try to make this information clear or even understandable.

Statistically, seventy percent of all SSD (a.k.a. SSDI) and SSI claims, represented or otherwise, are denied at application. What does this mean for ssd and ssi applicants who are disabled and need help? That they should follow this advice tip: learn everything you can about the benefit approval system to better your chances of winning, with or without the help of a disability attorney or lawyer.

The information, tips and advice presented here can help you understand: 1) How to apply for benefits with the Social Security Administration, 2) How the SSDI and SSI system works, 3) What SSA doesn’t tell you about the application and appeal process, 4) What you can do on your own as a disabled applicant to help your case, 5) When you should consider getting a disability advocate, representative, or attorney and 6) What you should never do that might potentially harm your case.

This is simply the information you should be able to get from a representative at the Social Security Administration, but almost never will.

If you suffer from a medical, psychological, or psychiatric impairment and have initiated or been denied on a social security disability, or ssi, claim for benefits, this site may assist you with your case.

Partners in Education – Online Training for Parents of Students

Check out Partners in Education, a self-study course designed by the fine folks at Partners in Policymaking to help parents of children with developmental disabilities navigate the special education system and help their children make the most of their potential.

Schools are places where children learn new information and skills. But they also are places where children are exposed to a multitude of life lessons…lessons like respecting each other as individuals, personal responsibility and the importance of contributing to the community.

This course has been developed to give you the practical skills you need to create an inclusive, quality education for your child. After completing this course, you will:

Understand the history of education of children with developmental disabilities;
Know and understand the key laws governing special education and how they protect your child’s rights;
Understand your role in your child’s educational experience;
Recognize the elements of an individualized education program and the role parents play in its creation and implementation;
Know how to advocate for your child to ensure a positive, quality educational experience;
Understand your rights to due process if you feel your child’s educational rights have been violated.

Funds Available For Participation in Conferences and Trainings

The Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities Consumer Involvement Fund gives people with developmental disabilities and their families valuable learning opportunities through participation in conferences and trainings.

Why a Consumer Involvement Fund?

People with developmental disabilities and their families often lack the necessary resources to attend conferences and trainings that would increase their skills and knowledge as advocates. Through the Council’s Consumer Involvement Fund, individuals receive financial assistance to support their participation in local, state and national training events. By gaining new information and skills, participants are better equipped to advocate for themselves and others.

How can the funds be used?

The Consumer Involvement Fund awards funds that typically cover the following expenses:

  • Registration fees
  • Transportation costs including mileage
  • Meals
  • Lodging
  • Respite or child care
  • Personal assistant services
  • Sign language interpreters
  • Other reasonable expenses related to attending a training event

Who can apply?

  • Oregon residents who are individuals with a developmental disability or a family member.
  • Organizations and agencies in Oregon seeking financial assistance to send members to an event.
  • Event planners who want to provide scholarships to Oregon participants with developmental disabilities and their families.

How are funds awarded?

The Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities Consumer Involvement Fund Committee reviews applications and decides who will receive funding. The committee limits the number of awards for any single event. The committee may offer less financial assistance than is requested. Organizations and agencies seeking stipends on behalf of members should also be contributing financially to their participation.

Individuals and families who receive Consumer Involvement Funds are only eligible for one request during the year. They may reapply but not until two years from the date they received initial funds.

All Consumer Involvement Fund applications must be consistent with the purpose of the fund and the mission of the Council. Individuals who receive funds are asked to complete a survey about how they benefited from the event they attended, and how they plan to share what they’ve learned with their community and the Council.

Clackamas County Transportation Option

Transportation Reaching People (TRP) serves older people and people with disabilities needing transportation to medical appointments, personal business, social services appointments, and shopping.

Volunteer drivers provide door-to-door transportation using their own vehicles.

TRP has a van for riders needing wheelchair accessibility.

Clackamas County rural residents who are not older or disabled can access transportation.

Support to volunteers includes:

  • Defensive driver training
  • Mobility awareness training
  • Supplemental Insurance
  • Mileage Reimbursement
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Follow-ups

Travel Trainer
Travel Trainers teach low-income and disabled citizens of Clackamas County how to use public transportation to obtain and retain employment. Training is provided for volunteers who want to teach Travel Training.

Catch A Ride:
This is a dial-a-ride service and is scheduled first-come first-serve. This service primarily provides rides to housing authority residents, who need transportation to employment related services and school.
If interested in volunteering call :

Call Sandy Yeaman (503)655-8604.
To schedule a ride call (503)655-8208.
To schedule a wheelchair ride 503-655-8856.
TRP is located at 2057 Kaen Rd. Oregon City, OR 97045

Connecting Communities 2009

Via Oregon YTP

October 15, 2009
4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Doubletree Hotel
1000 NE Multnomah Street

Portland, OR

Join family, friends and colleagues at Connecting Communities 2009 as we celebrate this October as National Disability Awareness Month. Headlined by national speaker Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII(LinkedIN/BIO), Connecting Communities 2009 celebrates all people living in our community – regardless of age or ability. Ken Boddie (BIO), a KOIN Channel 6 anchor, will emcee the event.

It is our intention that this event will be the catalyst to create a powerful coalition of community partners who represent and advocate with and for those with disabilities. Please look out for our first community meeting which we will convene in mid-November.

Featured Activities:

* Dance performance by the Disability Art & Culture Project
* Musical performance by Jeremy Doney
* Storytelling by writer and narrator, Choi Marquardt
* Presentation of City of Portland’s 2009 “Making a Difference” awards
* Unveiling of City of Portland’s new Commission on Disabilities
* Interactive showcase of assistive technologies
* Fundraising for the “Returning Veterans Project”

For more information visit:

New Portland-area school will serve students with autism

Via The Oregonian

A Portland woman who sees a void in Oregon education is starting a private school for students with neurological differences such as autism and attention deficit disorder.

Sameera Abdulaziz’s metro-area school would serve a select student population and combine academics with therapeutic intervention to help students make decisions and learn how to interact with others.

Abdulaziz, 29, a doctoral student in clinical psychology, plans to open River City Academy in fall 2010. The school has nonprofit status.

The high numbers of students with autism and other disorders support a local presence, she said. There are few private schools in the metro area that cater to students with special needs and learning disabilities.

More than 7,000 Oregon students have autism, which is 10 times the amount a decade ago. Nearly 49,000 of Oregon’s 88,000 schoolchildren in special education programs have learning disabilities or speech and language impairments. One in eight Oregon students receives special education services.

“I really want to help the students who are struggling in traditional schools,” Abdulaziz said. During her master’s program, she began thinking of opening a school for students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other learning disabilities, though the focus later changed.

Federal law requires school districts to serve students with special education needs, although the programs vary.

Some districts, including Portland and Beaverton, offer programs at select schools to serve certain students, including those with autism spectrum disorder, attention disorders or behavior disorders. Most districts strive to be inclusive so that special-needs students spend much of their day with the general student population.

River City Academy For more details, visit or call 503-380-7285. The Monarch School’s Web site is

River City Academy will be modeled after the Monarch School in Houston, which opened in 1998 and serves 100 students. Abdulaziz has signed a contract with Monarch School to replicate its program.

Abdulaziz found Monarch on the Internet when she was refining her school’s focus. She said the program attracted her because it was a therapeutic model that could be offered during the day instead of as a boarding school. She also liked how “the children changed as people.”

“Our main goal is how they have changed emotionally, how they have been able to create relationships with other students,” Abdulaziz said.

Abdulaziz has never worked in a school. She earned her master’s degree in education administration from Portland State University and is pursuing a doctorate degree with Walden University, an online program.

River City’s tuition will be about $30,000 for early intervention students ages 4 to 6, with lower fees for older students. The school hopes to attract 20 or more students from early childhood to the high school level for its first year.

Students would have individualized learning plans and work at their own pace along with a staff psychologist and speech pathologist. Students could feel comfortable in the setting because they all have special education needs, Abdulaziz said.

Central goals of the curriculum are developing basic skills and decision-making techniques.

In public schools, the thought is to integrate students as much as possible into classes and with their peers, said Joshua Fritts, a Beaverton School District assistant special education director.

“By making sure from day one that there are interactions in the mainstream, kids are part of their community,” Fritts said.

Patrick Maguire, director of Thomas Edison High School in Beaverton, said a new metro-area school would add choices. The 80-student private high school serves students with learning differences including dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and auditory processing disorders.

“We’re turning away kids from our program,” Maguire said. “We need more options.”

Maguire added that one of his concerns about River City’s initial size is that students wouldn’t get enough social interaction with others their age.

River City is funded by private investors during its planning year. It is still raising money to send teachers, a psychologist and speech pathologist to Houston to train with the Monarch staff for a year.

School planners eventually want to add a diagnostic clinic to serve the community and create a Life Academy program for students to practice skills such as food preparation.

River City Academy “is not just going to be a school, but part of the community,” Abdulaziz said.

— Melissa Navas;

What Can Brokerage Services Pay For?

One of the most common questions we hear at brokerages is “What can I use my support services funds for?”

Each customer enrolled in a brokerage has a certain benefit level (an amount of support services funds to which they are entitled and may use to purchase needed services). Before any support services funds can be accessed, we first must look for natural supports in the community. This means we look to services like Vocational Rehabilitation, school districts, the Oregon Health Plan, Independent Living Resources and other organizations who offer services to individuals with disabilities first. This allows for maximum benefit to you, the customer and ensures the appropriate use of brokerage services, a taxpayer funded program.

All services purchased with Support Services dollars are what is known as a “social benefit”. A social benefit is a service “solely intended to assist an individual with disabilities to function in society on a level comparable to that of an individual…who does not have a disability”. The benefit can never:

  • Duplicate services and benefits otherwise available to citizens, regardless of disability (such as paying for a college class since people with or without disabilities must pay college tuition.)
  • Provide financial assistance with food, shelter or clothing
  • Replace any other service that is available elsewhere in the community (also known as “natural supports”) like Vocational Rehabilitation or services from a school district
  • Exceed the amount in the authorized Individual Support Plan.

To read more about specific types of support services options, check out the list below. Your Personal Agent can assist you with better understanding services available to you.

Chore Services

Community Inclusion Supports

Community Living Supports

Environmental Accessibility Adaptations

Family Training

Homemaker Services

Occupational Therapy

Personal Emergency Response Systems

Physical Therapy

Respite Care

Special Diet

Specialized Medical Equipment and Supplies

Specialized Supports

Speech and Language Therapy

Supported Employment