ASSERT hosts visitors from Russia

December 17, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of adults watching children in a classroom.

A group of educators from Russia observe ASSERT in action.

A group of nine visitors from Russia recently visited the Autism Support Services: Education, Research and Training (ASSERT) program at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities. ASSERT serves children ages 3-5 on the autism spectrum.

The visitors, sponsored by the Naked Heart Foundation, included special education professionals and psychologists who would like to open similar facilities in Russia.

ASSERT program director Tom Higbee has worked with Svyatoslav Dovbnya, a pediatric neurologist, and Tatiana Morozova, a clinical psychologist for six or seven years on several projects. Higbee said he’s been to Russia four times to provide training at schools for children with disabilities.

The Naked Heart Foundation, Higbee said, is committed to help create the first publicly funded early intervention programs for children with autism in Russia.

“They wanted to come here and see what a model program looks like, get training here, and see a vision of what they would try to accomplish over there,” Higbee said. “To see a working program has been very valuable for them.

“They could have gone anywhere,” Higbee continued. “They have contacts all over the place. The fact that they came here speaks to what we’re doing here and how it’s viewed.”

Legislative update

December 15, 2015 by Sue Reeves

LegislationThe new session of the Utah Legislature begins on January 26, 2016 and runs through March 10.

CPD staff will be attending and monitoring various committee meetings/actions and tracking disability related bills throughout the session and will provide regular updates. Staff will also be attending the Saturday Town Hall meetings with Cache Valley senators and representatives throughout the session. CPD personnel are encouraged to attend the meetings if they would like to connect directly with their senator or representative on specific issues. If CPD personnel have specific issues/bills/appropriation requests that they would like monitored and reported on lease contact Jeff Sheen.

The CPD specific legislative priority this session is to secure funding for the expansion of the Assistive Technology Lab by opening and staffing a satellite AT lab in the Vernal area.

Two major issues with significant implications for the disability community are 1) the ongoing debate and shifting the various proposals for Medicaid Expansion; 2) Determining whether or not the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation will remain under the jurisdiction of the State Office of Education, be moved under the Department of Workforce Services, or become its own stand-alone agency.

Here is an idea of other disability related agencies current legislative priorities and appropriations requests. These are tentative and constitute the initial wish list of the season. Agencies are waiting on the Governor’s budget to be released and for the legislature’s first set of revenue projections on December 15, both budgets will impact these priorities.

Utah State Office of Rehabilitation (USOR): (Includes Independent Living Centers)
USOR Ongoing
Increased Facility Expenses–$ 60,000
Comp officer/Policy officer–$280,000
Independent Center Services–$300,000
Older blind spec and care travel in–$225,000
Hard of Hearing Rural Outreach–$50,000
Independent Living Assistive Tech–$200,000
Direct Client Services–$1,115,000

USOR Onetime
Independent Living Assistive Tech–$500,000
Blind Business Opportunity–$240,000
Interpreter Filming Cert–$60,000
Public Relations–$30,000
AG Attorney–$175,000

Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD):
Priorities: 1) mandated additional needs issue request for 1.7 million; 2) DCFS cases put on waiver to access state funds need $900,000 to cover age out; 3) continuation of 3 year project re: access to services, have to wait to get services and then have to wait again because no staff available need 15 million over 3 years for direct care worker pay increases, got first 5 million will ask for 5 million this year; 4) waiting list request ongoing funds versus one-time money $1.175 million.

*No specific DSPD bills but interested in guardianship bill and community first.

Utah School for the Deaf and Blind (USDB):
–Increase steps and lanes funding for teachers $460,000.
–Teacher aide funding $277,000 ongoing.
–Accessible materials for students program–$605,000 ongoing plus existing $700,000.
–One-time–student housing upgrades- $320,000.
–One-time–buy Nebo elementary school purchase $1.2 million.

Statewide Early Intervention:
–Case-load growth $2.5 million (split between non-Medicaid children and Medicaid match for new children). Costs are currently 10 percent higher than funding received.

Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH):
–Medicaid match $6.4 million one time last year; 1 to 3 dollar rate, need to make ongoing.
–Mental health early intervention–3 pronged approach–mobile crisis, school intervention, and family response services; would like to double in size.
–Justice reinvestment–ongoing funding based on Medicaid expansion happening; very underfunded until that happens.
–Forensic Competency restoration funding.
–Early Psychosis intervention on IHE campuses and suicide intervention.


Your input is needed!

December 14, 2015 by Sue Reeves

advocacy-pinPeople First of Utah is working with Southwestern Alliance on a five-year self-advocacy plan for the state of Utah. Your input would be greatly appreciated. Please follow this link to take the survey.

First Director of the CPD, Dr. Marvin Fifield, dies

December 8, 2015 by Kelly Smith

Dr. Marvin Fifield

Dr. Marvin Fifield



We are saddened to announce that the first director of the CPD, Dr. Marvin Fifield, passed away suddenly last Friday. Dr. Fifield was the founding force at the Center for Persons with Disabilities, originally called the Exceptional Child Center. His lasting influence in the field of developmental disabilities in our community, state, and across the nation will impact individuals with disabilities and their families for years to come.

Read more about this remarkable man’s major contributions in our tribute to his legacy here.





Save the date! Holiday Luncheon on Dec. 11

December 3, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of little tree with tags on it.

The Giving Tree is set up in the CPD Main Office.

Mark your calendars for the annual CPD Holiday Party and Giving Tree celebration! The event will be at noon on Friday, Dec. 11 in CPD Room 170.

The Giving Tree is set up in the CPD main office, with lots of tags still available to claim. You can make the holiday season brighter for families in need by grabbing a tag, buying a gift, and returning it to the main office before Dec. 11. You don’t even have to wrap it!

Project PEER students have volunteered to help with the wrapping again this year. (Donations of wrapping paper are appreciated!).

Did you miss out on the DSL Cookbooks that were created last year at this time? No worries, you can still get one for $5 in the main office. (They make great stocking stuffers, too!)