Five Years of ABLE: Building STABLE Accounts for the Future

Robert Sprague Ohio Treasurer logoBy: Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague

 

The end of 2019 marked the five-year anniversary of the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. As you may know, ABLE empowers people with disabilities by helping them to take better control of their finances and live more independently. After passage of the federal legislation, Ohio was the first state to jump in, launching the STABLE Account program in 2016. Since then, and notably in the last year, the Treasurer’s office has championed the ABLE Act’s purpose
and provided people living with disabilities with a powerful tool to help them plan their financial future.

STABLE accounts are the premier ABLE program in the country, and more than one in four ABLE accounts are STABLE accounts. Since taking office one year ago, our team has made it a priority to grow the program even further and create innovative partnerships that are establishing STABLE accounts as a mainstream financial tool.

(And signing up is easy – just visit www.stableaccount.com.)

The STABLE Account program saw unprecedented growth and success in 2019. Our national presence was cemented in February with the opening of the 10,000th active account. By year’s end, we surpassed 14,000 active accounts, effectively growing overall participation by more than 40 percent. This great news continued into November when STABLE reached $100 million in total participant contributions.

As part of our office’s mission, we’re committed to being bold innovators who improve people’s lives. Our work on STABLE accounts is playing a large part in how we follow through on that mission. New partnerships with the State of Ohio and the City of Cincinnati allow state and city employees to make recurring direct deposits into STABLE accounts. In the coming years, we’ll continue to build these types of partnerships both in the public and private sectors to make contributing to STABLE accounts easier than ever before.

With your help and the support of advocates across Ohio, we’re going to reach even more individuals and have a greater impact in 2020. While a great deal of progress has been made since the ABLE Act became law, I can assure you we’re just getting started.

We look forward to continuing to work with you in the new year. Through the STABLE Account program, we are improving and empowering lives, while also helping to alleviate the financial burdens felt by families across the Buckeye State and nationwide. As always, my door is open, so please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts and ideas. Together, we’re helping to build peace of mind and financial security to those living with disabilities.

Behind the Scenes of the New OCALI Podcast: A Q&A with Producer Simon Buehrer

A few months ago, OCALI launched a new podcast, Inspiring Change. The podcast is designed to take listeners on an audio journey with OCALI through a forum of stories and connections from our ongoing work of inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities.

Through candid interviews and conversations with leaders and partners in the field of disability, as well as parents, community members, self-advocates, and others, listeners are discovering and hearing how different ideas, perspectives, and experiences help fuel OCALI’s continued efforts to impact lives in Ohio and beyond. 

We recently caught up with Simon Buehrer, the podcast producer, to hear about his journey launching the new podcast. Get the inside scoop on his vision for the podcast, some standout moments and bloopers, and future topics he hopes to dive into.

Continue reading “Behind the Scenes of the New OCALI Podcast: A Q&A with Producer Simon Buehrer”

Office of Policy Update – January 2020

Office of Policy logo

In the fall of 2019, Ohio’s Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA) conducted a survey of young adults with autism and/or other special health care needs (i.e., diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, etc.) who had recently exited high school.

The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition has identified predictors of post-school success, things that can be done in high school to increase the likelihood youth will further their education, get and keep a job, and live more independently. While Ohio’s response rate was low, data from the IWGA survey supports these predictors. Specifically, the survey highlighted two key predictors: work experience and self-determination (as evidenced by IEP participation). A few highlights of the survey include:

  • Students with work experience in high school were significantly more likely to pursue additional training or education, have a job currently and experience success finding and keeping a job.
  • Students who actively participated in their Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings were more likely to go to college or get additional training after high school, look for a job, and/or be working.
  • Of those students surveyed who had no work experience in high school: 70% did not pursue additional education or training; 80% did not get a job after high school; and 75% still don’t have a job.
  • Only 50% of students not actively participating in their IEP meetings have looked for a job.

More results can be found here. The survey also asked questions about access to medical care and insurance, which will be shared in future issues of OCALI Now.

Perspective & Possibilities: Celebrating 2019 and Ready to Kick-Off a New Decade

By: Shawn Henry, Executive Director, OCALI

Perspective and possibilities—as we wrap up 2019, these are two words that I’ve been reflecting on over the past few weeks. The end of the year at OCALI is an extremely busy time, but also a time of incredible celebration. Just a few weeks ago, on November 20-22, our team hosted nearly 3,200 attendees from around the world at OCALICON—the nation’s premier autism and disabilities conference.

The growth of this conference has been incredible—steadily growing each year. We love seeing that this event fits a need for so many. But, what’s even more exciting and special to me is the community that we’re creating together. It’s a community of people from all over the world, serving in different roles with different ideas and opinions. It’s this type of community that creates an environment of innovation, learning, exploring, and true connection—all aimed at promoting access and inspiring change for people with disabilities and those who love, care for, and support them. From educators, service providers, parents/families, self-advocates, community leaders, policy makers, and others, we’re striving to connect each other to create and expand accessible and inclusive opportunities for all.

Continue reading “Perspective & Possibilities: Celebrating 2019 and Ready to Kick-Off a New Decade”

A Look Back at OCALICON 2019: Stories from Attendees

 

On November 20-22, more than 3,100 state and national leaders, K-12 education leaders and practitioners, service providers, policy makers, families and self-advocates from 39 states and three countries gathered in Columbus, Ohio at OCALICON. Now in its 13th year, OCALICON 2019 had record-breaking attendance—a trend that has continued over the past three years.

Rather than writing a traditional recap article, we decided to ask a few attendees to share their personal experiences at OCALICON. Don’t forget to save the dates for next year’s conference—November 11-13, 2020, once again at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Details will be coming soon!

Continue reading “A Look Back at OCALICON 2019: Stories from Attendees”

Inspiring Change: A New Podcast from OCALI

Inspiring Change Podcast logo

Hot off the press is OCALI’s brand new podcast, Inspiring Change. Take an audio journey with OCALI through our monthly forum of stories and connections from our ongoing work of inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities.

Through candid interviews and conversations with leaders and partners in the field of disability, as well as parents, community members, self-advocates, and others, listeners will discover and understand how different ideas, perspectives, and experiences help fuel OCALI’s continued efforts to impact lives in Ohio and beyond. 

Continue reading “Inspiring Change: A New Podcast from OCALI”

Be Our Guest—Creating an Inclusive, Fun-Filled Family Dining Experience

Imagine that it’s a typical Saturday night, and you and your family head to a local restaurant for dinner. You walk in and there’s a line out the door. You see service staff buzzing around with trays of food, kitchen staff spouting out orders, and dozens of tables squeezed close together. While this sensory-stimulating environment may not interfere with most people’s dining experience, families with loved ones with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may not be able to easily dine out because of the challenging environment restaurants present.

Designed to provide an inclusive, sensory-friendly, and fun night out for people with autism and their families, Hospitality Listens is a free, dining event hosted by the Hospitality Management Program at The Ohio State University, in partnership with OCALI.

Continue reading “Be Our Guest—Creating an Inclusive, Fun-Filled Family Dining Experience”