Easter Seals recently honored select state government members with its 2014 Outstanding Advocate Award during its recent Advocacy Summit Awards Dinner held in Washington D.C. Easter Seals created its Outstanding Advocate Awards to honor public officials -- elected and appointed -- for their work to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, and for all.
The following officials were awarded as Easter Seals 2014 Outstanding Advocates having each had a significant and positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities:
Illinois State Representative Patti Bellock scrutinized the fiscal house budget to ensure that funds used to assist individuals with disabilities were not being cut while simultaneously identifying funds to assist Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region. Her legislation helped reform the Medicaid system by allowing individuals with disabilities to acquire necessary services.
Governor of Ohio John Kasich focused on improving disability policies statewide, thus supporting the overall mission of Easter Seals Ohio. He helped write Ohio’s “Employment First” initiative into law, increased health services to low-income Ohioans (many of whom have disabilities) by expanding Medicaid, increased access to home and community-based services and added behavioral and habilitation services for children with autism to the state’s essential health benefits.
As Chair of the National Governor’s Association (NGA), Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell focused his NGA initiative on increasing employment for people with disabilities on a national level. In 2012, he signed Delaware’s “Employment First” legislation into law requiring state agencies that provide services to persons with disabilities to consider, as their first option, employment in an integrated setting. In addition, Markell is a strong supporter of the “Early Start to Supported Employment” program which collaborates with Easter Seals Delaware to prepare young adults with disabilities for competitive, integrated employment.
As a parent of a child with a developmental disability, Missouri State Senator Eric Schmitt not only backs bipartisan legislation that benefits some of the state’s most vulnerable individuals and greatly improves their quality of life, but regularly shares his firsthand knowledge of the needs of people with developmental disabilities with his colleagues. Over the past five years, he sponsored legislation that created an Autism Insurance Mandate in Missouri, codified five Statewide Autism Projects and removed the phrase “mental retardation” from state statutes. In addition, he helped secure more than $2.7 million in new appropriations for disability services in the state.
Easter Seals 2014 Outstanding Advocate Award In 1991, Easter Seals awarded its first Outstanding Advocate Award to recognize sustained efforts by elected and appointed officials that help forward Easter Seals’ mission to serve people with disabilities. Every honoree has gone the extra mile in making a difference for Americans with disabilities. Each believes that people with disabilities deserve a quality education, opportunities for employment, and access to health care, affordable housing, transportation and polling places.
About Easter Seals Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For nearly 100 years, Easter Seals has been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. Support children and adults with disabilities at www.easterseals.com.