What's New

Disability Rights Wisconsin Asks Legislature to Suspend Plans for Family Care/IRIS 2.0

On May 27, 2016 Disability Rights Wisconsin sent a letter to members of the Wisconsin State Legislature asking them to suspend the Department of Health Services’ plans to redesign Wisconsin’s long-term care programs. Family Care and IRIS serve more than 55,000 older adults and people with disabilities. DRW shared significant concerns about proposed changes to IRIS self-direction.

You can read the complete letter here: DRW Letter to the Legislature on Family Care-IRIS 2 0 Decision 5-27-2016.

DRW Informational Session and Board Listening Session – Friday, June 17 – Janesville

WHERE: Rock County Job Center (where the ADRC is located)
1900 Center Ave.
Janesville, WI 53546

Informational Session
3:30 – 4:15 pm
Learn about Disability Rights Wisconsin and its Family Care/IRIS Ombudsman Program – presented by DRW staff.

Board Listening Session
4:30 – 6:30 pm
Come and share your ideas for the future of disability advocacy and the issues that need to be addressed in the areas of mental health, developmental disability, special education, physical disability services, and disability rights.

For details, click here.

Disability Rights Wisconsin Makes Recommendations on Implementation on new IRIS 40 Hour Rule

On May 23 Disability Rights Wisconsin sent a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) making recommendations on how to implement its 40-Hour Health and Safety Assurance Policy in a way that ensures health and safety for people who may have difficulty meeting the new worker limits. You can read DRW’s letter here: DRW Letter to DHS – 40-Hour Health and Safety Assurance Policy

The Department’s policy establishes that IRIS participant hired workers may provide no more than 40 hours of care per week for an IRIS employer. Read more about the Department’s policy here: DHS 40-hour policy. IRIS participants are being asked to sign a form to ensure they are in compliance with this new policy by December of 2016. You can see the form here: 40 Hour Health and Safety Assurance Participant Form. 

National disability advocacy groups have also recently provided guidance to states on how to come into compliance around new federal worker overtime regulations. Read this document from the Bazelon Center: Considerations for developing overtime exceptions.  Disability Rights Wisconsin will continue to monitor implementation of the Wisconsin policy and work with the Department to ensure that individuals continue to receive the care hours required to meet their needs.

New Brochure – In Wisconsin, Treatment Never Includes Sex

DRW worked with DHS to develop a brochure on sexual exploitation of mental health consumers in mental health services and substance abuse services. Approximately 10-13 percent of mental health providers self-report exploiting at least one client in their career services and of these, most report exploiting more than one client. It is important that consumers of mental health and substance abuse services be aware of the possible warning signs that they might be targeted for exploitation, know their rights, and know where they may receive assistance if they are being sexually exploited by a mental health professional.

Since April was sexual assault awareness month, we would like to provide a resource for people who may be experiencing sexual exploitation in treatment. To view and download the brochure, click here.

Take a Minute for Medicare

We are continuing the discussion on Medicare Preventive Services this month. There are two services that are covered by Medicare that are preventive in scope and are free. These are the Welcome to Medicare visit and the Annual Wellness Check.

The Welcome to Medicare visit is designed to look at your health needs and create a preventive service plan or checklist to keep you healthy. Medicare covers this one-time, initial examination within the first 12 months you enroll in Medicare Part B. All people new to Medicare qualify for this visit. The Welcome to Medicare visit includes:

• Review of your medical and social history.
• Review of the potential for depression and other mental health conditions.
• Review of your ability to function safely in the home and community.
• Check of your height, weight, blood pressure, body mass index, and vision.
• Education, counseling, and referrals related to your risk factors.
• Education, counseling, and referrals related to other preventive services covered by Medicare.
• Discussions about health care advance directives. Click here to read the rest of Take a Minute for Medicare »

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Celebration

Wisconsin Knows children's mental health matters.  Your actions today are a life tomorrow logo.  Black state of Wisconsin outline, green ribon for mental health. Join us in celebrating National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day! Enjoy a program honoring winners of the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Coalition’s My Feelings Matter poster contest, featuring local youth performances and the winning posters on display. First Lady Tonette Walker will present the official proclamation declaring it Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Wisconsin.

 The Overture Center, Rotunda Stage
201 State St., Madison, WI
Thursday, May 5, 2016
11:30 a.m.– 12:30 p.m.

BONUS: Attend the Day of Action for Youth Mental Health the same day, from 10 am to 11:30 am in the Overture Center, Wisconsin Studio. This event, the culmination of Kids in Crisis, an in-depth series by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin on youth mental health, is to ask lawmakers to better support children and teens with mental health challenges.

We hope to see you on May 5th in support of children’s mental health!


For information and resources on how to promote positive mental health for all children, check out our website: https://wisconsinknowschildrensmentalhealthmatters.wordpress.com/


The Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program provides children and adults living with psychiatric disabilities with independent advocates. These advocates offer a range of support including legal advice for navigating our complicated mental health system, defense against discrimination in education, employment, and housing, as well as monitoring and investigating instances of abuse and neglect so that people who do seek help are safe.

H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, a bill currently being considered in Congress, would seriously weaken PAIMI’s ability to protect the rights of people with mental illness.

We must safeguard PAIMI’s ability to assist individuals with mental illness who are experiencing abuse, neglect, discrimination and barriers to education, employment, housing and so much more.

Please add your name to NDRN’s petition to show your support for the PAIMI program and robust protection for the rights of people with mental illness.

Disability Rights Wisconsin Celebrates New Law Protecting Children with Disabilities

Disability Rights Wisconsin joined disability advocates and bi-partisan legislators in a celebration in Green Bay today as Governor Walker signed strong new legislation that will be a model for the nation in protecting children with disabilities from abuse and neglect.

Assembly Bill 667 requires the state to develop a plan for investigating reports of abuse or neglect involving children with disabilities. The bill was introduced by lead-sponsors Representatives Kleefisch-R – Oconomowoc, and Representative Johnson-D – Milwaukee along with Senator Rob Cowles-R – Green Bay. The bill passed with unanimous bi-partisan support.

Available data indicate that children with disabilities are three times more likely to be a victim of abuse compared to children without disabilities. Upon review of child protective services reports and information uncovered by a FOX6 News investigation in Milwaukee, Disability Rights Wisconsin found that since February 2010 at least twelve children with special needs who were involved with the child protective services system have died due to abuse or neglect in Wisconsin. An additional eight suffered an egregious injury.

Click here to read the rest of Disability Rights Wisconsin Celebrates New Law Protecting Children with Disabilities »

Kids express mental health in art – Appleton Post-Crescent article on Children’s Mental Health Matters contest

Offering a window into the difficult pressures Wisconsin students are juggling, more than 200 kids and teens submitted artwork about their feelings for the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Coalition’s “My Feelings Matter” poster contest.

To read the article, click here.

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Poster Contest – Please Vote!

It time to vote for the winning posters for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The theme is My Feelings Matter and there are entries from students preschool – high school. You can vote for your top three choices in each category and voting will close on Thursday, April 14.

To vote in the poster contest, click here.

There will be an event to celebrate National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day on Thursday, May 5th at the Overture Center in Madison at 11:30 am. The winners will be honored and their posters will be displayed. In addition, there will be youth performances and First Lady Tonette Walker will be the event speaker.

Please join us!