In 1971 the Utah Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (UARF) was developed to assist Rehab Providers in working together to address issues that faced their organizations. In 1983, the Community Residential Providers Association (CRPA) was formed to assist primarily residential businesses to advocate for their needs and those of the people they served in apartments and group homes. In the late 80â€™s, the two provider organizations came together and formed our current member organization, the Utah Association of Community Services, or UACS.
Today, we are a 501(c) (6), membership organization with a primary objective to advocate for service providers and help us make optimal and safe services available that will improve and enhance the quality of lives of people with disabilities. Christene Jones is our full time Executive Director and Charlie Luke of Luke Strategies has been retained as our lobbyist.
We are 42 individual, small and large businesses that contract with the Division of Services for People with Disabilities to provide community supports to over 5,000 people in 400 program sites across the State. Some of our agencies are non-profits, and some are for-profit corporations. Collectively, the UACS providers employ approximately 4,500 staff to provide these services. DSPD currently has a budget of about $172 million and, of that, $120 million is for waiver services; our members represent over 80% of that budget.
Many of the UACS provider organizations also contract with other Divisions within Human Services, such as Juvenile Justice and Child & Family Services. A number of us also contract with other state agencies, the Division of Rehab and Workforce Development, and also hold contracts with cities and county agencies. In addition, many of our members also provide services in other states such as Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona, just to name a few.
Three major accomplishments as a Member Organization have been:
- The development of a restraint & behavior training program, â€śSupports, Options, Action and Respectâ€ť, known as SOAR.
- A legislative bill that changed the State Use law, and the formation of Utah Works.
- Successful education and mobilization of parents and advocates to work with legislators regarding the needs of persons with disabilities within community services.
SOAR was the brain child of a number of providers that envisioned a better behavior training program for the provider system that truly addressed the needs of people with disabilities and their behaviors. This program has made a tremendous impact in staff training throughout the State.
The State Use law was another obstacle that a group of our providers recognized and took the initiative to change. This requires certain State contracts to be â€śset asideâ€ť for organizations that hire people with disabilities. It took a tremendous amount of time and resources of UACS members to make this change in law, but this action will help employ thousands of people with disabilities in the future.
This last legislative session saw unprecedented numbers of families and advocates contacting their legislators and fighting against proposed funding cuts for people with disabilities. UACS, working with groups such as The Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities and the Grassroots Advocacy Partnership, was instrumental in preparing families to voice their concerns and make a difference in the outcome of this last legislative session.
UACS: Executive Council Organization
At the UACS Annual Meeting in June, elections resulted in the following officers:
President: Dustin Erekson, CTA Community Supports
Past-President: Marc Christensen, Chrysalis Utah
Secretary: Tifani Jefferies, Futures Through Choices
Treasurer: Phil Shumway, TURN Community Services
Ongoing Division Chairs
Day and Supported Employment: Dave Hennessey, TURN Community Services (Because Phil was elected Treasurer, Dave will be replaced this month, as only one representative from each agency can serve on the Executive Council)
Family Support: Justin Naylor, RISE, Inc.
Legislative Committee: Marsha Colegrove, Danville Services
Residential Services: Jim Jensen, TKJ, Inc.
Training Committee: Kae Lynn Beecher, Cache Employment and Training Center
Utah Works: Bob Daniels, PARC
This is Philâ€™s second time serving as UACSâ€™ Treasurer, and he has served as the UACS President three times. Thanks for your benevolence and willingness to serve, Phil!