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Arizona Is Adding New Disability Protections And Programs

With much turmoil comes change. This week Arizona’s Governor, Doug Ducey, issued an executive order to increase and strengthen disability protections for people in Arizona. This is the most significant new step forward for people with disabilities as there have been a number of provisions, protections, and programs that have been created in Arizona. This is an unprecedented time for disability protections and the expansion of programs for people with disabilities in this state and will definitely create a new landscape for everyone to navigate moving forward.

Strengthened Disability Protections

The end of the year has been harrowing for communities across Arizona with the revelation of the Hacienda Healthcare scandal involving an incapacitated sexual assault victim in their care and the revelation that a man under their employ had allegedly committed these atrocious acts. Now as the scandal has grown deeper, the Governor is putting his foot down. Governor Ducey has instructed the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the Department Of Economic Security(DES), and the Arizona Department Of Health Services (ADHS) to, “develop protocols on preventing, recognizing and reporting abuse and neglect for both care providers and parents or guardians of individuals with disabilities.”

Governor Ducey’s order also requires any “staff with direct contact to patients with disabilities to undergo annual training in abuse prevention.”

This order was signed only one day after it was revealed that Hacienda Healthcare did not meet its deadline to reach an agreement with a third party management company.

In our community, while Lexington Services has always maintained a strict and consistent training schedule for individuals in direct care roles for members, the fact that the state is creating new disability protections is a relief to concerned parents and guardians.

Improved Relationship With Police Community

Health care isn’t the only sector in which disability protections are improving. Arizona is taking steps to mend and increase the trust and understanding between the community with disabilities and the police. After an incident with Buckeye Police became the subject of national news, many departments have stepped up their efforts to relate to the disability and to increase disability protections through awareness programs. The Mesa Police department has created a program called Resident Assistance Program (RAP) that gives people with disabilities the option to report their disability to first responders, so police and other responders are aware and prepared to respond appropriately.

Because of the nature of policing in such a large and diverse population center, officers often have difficulty identifying the difference between the involuntary behaviors of a person with autism and some drug use behavior. In an effort to help educate and expand awareness for those that safeguard our communities, Lexington Services also reaches out to police departments across the state with information on how people with disabilities behave. Together we can make a difference for communities and for the relationships between officers and the cities that they serve.

New Jobs And Opportunities

Just one day before the executive order was signed to expand disability protections, Governor Ducey announced a partnership with The Precisionists, Inc. (TPI), which is an organization specifically created to create jobs for people with disabilities across the nation. “We want to be a state of opportunity for all,” Governor Ducey said. This partnership’s goal is to create at least 500 jobs within the next 4 years and 1,000 jobs by 2025 for adults with autism and other disabilities. These jobs will be in a variety of fields such as administration, software development, analytics, technology, and data entry. Reportedly three companies have already joined the partnership, including SRP and Mobile Mini. This promising partnership will bring more opportunities for people with disabilities to one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country.

Facing A New Landscape With Lexington

Arizona will definitely be a different state for disability protections, job creation, and community relationships over the next few years. Whether it’s community outreach, independent living arrangements or preparation to join the workforce, Lexington Services is a vital partner that parents, guardians, families and friends can look to. Call us to schedule a tour at one of our locations across the valley today at 480-900-1009 today.

If you want to read more from Lexington Services, check out our blog here.