The Florida Work Incentive Personal Care Attendant Program

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
The Florida Work Incentive Personal Care Attendant Program
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The Florida Association of Centers for Independent Living facilitates collaboration among Centers for Independent Living and other stakeholders, resulting in a unified statewide voice advocating for equal rights for people with disabilities.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The Florida Association of Centers for Independent Living (FACIL) leverages Microsoft Technology to enhance the quality of the lives of Floridians with disabilities who work in their communities.“Independent living and gainful employment of people with disabilities are not promoted under the current system’s treatment of the disabled. My school and work record are superb. I am unable, however, to live on my own without assistance. At the age of 23, I found myself as an attorney unable to care for myself or even get out of bed without assistance, assistance that was unavailable unless given by friends or family. However, after extensive pressure and advocacy in Florida, my story was heard. The FACIL Florida Work Incentive PAS Program (aka. The PCA Program) was designed and implemented as a result of my struggle.” – Aaron Bates, Orlando AttorneyEvery morning, working people wake up and lie in bed thinking ahead to their day -- ideas to test….plans to create… projects due…bosses to please…Some of these people have something extra on their minds: The arrival of their personal care attendant who will transfer them out of bed, bathe them, assist with catheter and bowel management, dress them, and get them out the door, because without this assistance, they can’t get to work.People with significant disabilities must find personal care attendants (PCAs) who are reliable, honest, capable and affordable. That is a job in itself. One woman tells the story (and unfortunately, this is a common experience) about lying in bed awaiting her PCA so she could get to work, but that PCA decided not to return and had not bothered to notify her. She was forced to call her employer and explain. Imagine this: PCA expenses range from $500 to $3,500 per month. Do you have $3,500 a month separate from your regular budget? This expense is a great barrier to gaining and maintaining employment. The cost is especially steep for young people with disabilities transitioning from school to their first entry-level job. Many are forced to stop working all together and rely on government supports such as Social Security. Research shows that once people begin collecting Social Security disability payments, they often don’t make the leap into the workforce. Persons with severe and chronic disabilities have tough choices with respect to how they live their lives – they can depend on meager government supports, family members (if they are so lucky) and social service agencies, they can live in a nursing home, or they can work for a living to support themselves.When persons with disabilities work, they have the opportunity to have what other people have: To live a self-directed, community-based life that includes interaction with family and friends, productivity and meaning. Research indicates that people with disabilities want to work. And they can work. Persons with disabilities of all kinds use accessible technology and accommodations to enable them to work in jobs and professions of all kinds. Persons with disabilities:

  • Contribute a wide range of skills and talents to the workforce.
  • Pay taxes -- According to a survey done by the Able Trust in 1999 working persons with disabilities put 23% of their income back into the economy by paying taxes.
  • Create jobs for and pay personal care attendants.
  • Spend money in the community.
  • Act as role models to young people with disabilities.
  • Advance in their professional development and increase their salary to the point that they do not need to rely on The PCA Program.

· A person who is qualified for nursing home care but remains out of the nursing home because they are employed, independent, and assisted by a PCA saves tax payers between $20,000 and $50,000 a year in nursing home costs. Therefore, the PCA Program saves Florida money! The PCA Program pays each participant up to $1,100 a month in reimbursement PCA costs. It is directly administered by FACIL, a non-profit, capacity-building organization that provides support and resource development for Centers for Independent Living throughout Florida. We advocate for equal rights for people with disabilities. Fortunately, our still-young PCA program is enrolling more participants (currently at about 60 people), and more people are learning about this wonderful opportunity to live in parity with the non-disabled community, realizing their goal of independence. That’s where Microsoft Technologies comes in. Using the Microsoft Office Suite of programs, we have been able to: · Enhance the quality of the PCA Program by creating documents that codify the regulations of the program and requirements for participation.· Work with a website developer to create a site for the PCA Program, where we will host all of the Microsoft-created documents.· The application to and participation in the program includes several necessary forms, and these too were created using Microsoft software. Because of the user-friendly nature of Microsoft products, we are going to be able to place all forms right on the website, thereby maximizing program information availability and creating an interactive tool for participants.· FACIL utilizes Microsoft technology solutions to maintain PCA participant data in a database, which increases the efficiency of managing the PCA Program, freeing up staff to research additional funding streams to expand the program for more persons with disabilities who want to work but can’t afford to pay a PCA.· Communicating with program participants is easy because Microsoft software allows staff to push a few buttons to mail merge contact information. Without this feature, each and every address would have to be retyped every time a mailing was scheduled. This allows staff to spend more time talking to participants and meeting their needs.FACIL has created an innovative and vital program for Floridians with significant disabilities, making it possible for people to work in their communities instead of relying on public institutions. With the aid of Microsoft technologies, the PCA Program is run with efficiency and effectiveness, which allows us to focus on making a significant impact on the motivated people who, with a little help, are making their lives productive and meaningful. It was the PCA Program that allowed Aaron Bates to move from his parents’ home to accepting a job at a law firm. Now he uses his abilities to advocate for persons with disabilities: “A mother called me one day and told me her daughter was having trouble with the same school system I went through. On rainy days, this girl was forced to sit alone in a portable classroom at lunchtime because the school had not made the pathways accessible. She was also excluded from other activities that her friends enjoyed. Things kind of came full circle for me. I called them and said, ‘Hey, I’m back now and I got a law degree.’ I was able to get the issue resolved in about a week.” Wow, what an impact!


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Optimize Mission Delivery