Archive for January, 2012

Get WI Disability Policy Updates – Right as the Action is Happening!

Follow our Public Policy Coordinator Lisa Pugh on Twitter and get up-to-date information on all that is happening in disability policy in Wisconsin! Find out about the latest hearings, opportunities for public input and fast-moving bills and policies that affect everything from Medicaid to Long-Term Care. special education and mental health. Go to this link to get a twitter account and Follow @WisDisPolicy!

Twitter: @WisDisPolicy

Barbara Beckert talks with Lake Effect on WUWM about Voting

DRW’s Milwaukee Office Director, Barbara Beckert, spoke with Lake Effect on WUWM recently regarding the voting process and people with disabilities.

Click here to listen to the program.

Wisconsin Senate passes seclusion and restraint bill unanimously

On January 24, 2012, the Wisconsin Senate passed SB 353 in a unanimous voice vote. This bill will reduce and hopefully eliminate the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint in public schools in Wisconsin. Read this news coverage with good quotes from the bi-partisan sponsors.

Forty Organizations, Including Disability Advocates, Ask Legislature to preserve BadgerCare

Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Survival Coalition joined with dozens of other organizations in sending the attached letter to Wisconsin legislators outling concerns about changes to BadgerCare and essential health care coverage for people with disabilities. Read the letter: Preserve BadgerCare Sign-on letter and press release: Press Release.

Survival Coalition Sees Good News Since Family Care Audit: Program is Sustainable

The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations, of which Disability Rights Wisconsin is a member, provided testimony at a January 18 hearing of the Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee. Disability advocates say the Department of Health Services had made significant improvements in Family Care and IRIS since an audit was first released in April and that the program is cost-effective and sustainable. They request that the Department move swiftly to remove the caps on long-term care programs like Family Care and IRIS. Read the full testimony here: Survival Coalition to Joint Audit.

Disability Rights Wisconsin Names Tom Masseau as New Executive Director

Disability Rights Wisconsin, the state’s designated protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities, has hired Tom Masseau as its new Executive Director, effective January 16, 2012. He replaces Lynn Breedlove, who retired after 31 years.

Tom has spent 24 years working at the Michigan protection and advocacy agency, most recently as the Director of Government and Media Relations. He is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Public Administration. Well known nationally through his leadership position as the chairperson of the legislative committee of the National Disability Rights Network, the national organization of protection and advocacy agencies, Tom will bring to DRW his strong disability values and passion for people with disabilities as well as extensive knowledge and experience in legislative advocacy, coalition building, planning and policy development.

Tom may be reached at or 608-267-0214.

“We are excited to welcome Tom to DRW. The DRW Board conducted a national search for Lynn Breedlove’s replacement and is confident that Tom will bring strong leadership and commitment to protecting the rights of Wisconsin citizens with disabilities to DRW. The agency will continue the same level of passion for outstanding individual and systems advocacy work on behalf of people with disabilities that is expected from and for which DRW is known throughout the state and nationally,” says Jeff Timm, DRW Board President.

Disability Rights Wisconsin, a private non-profit organization, is part of the federally mandated national system of disability protection and advocacy agencies across the United States to ensure the rights of children and adults with disabilities. DRW is a statewide resource for individuals, families, service professionals, elected officials, government agencies and others concerned with disability issues and systems change. The agency operates out of 3 offices: Madison, Milwaukee, and Rice Lake. DRW helps people across Wisconsin gain access to services and opportunity through advocacy and legal expertise. We regularly challenge systems and society to create positive change and improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Legislature Moves to Lift the Caps on Family Care and IRIS

On January 11th the legislature began circulating a bill to lift the caps on Family Care and IRIS – long-term care programs that provide supports to adults with disabilities. Disability advocates have been asking for this legislation since long-term care programs were frozen by the legislature in July and waiting lists started to grow. The Survival Coalition, of which Disability Rights Wisconsin is a member, sent this message to the full legislature and will continue working to ensure that this bill is passed. Click here to read the message on the Wheeler Report website.

Senate Education Committee Passes Seclusion and Restraint Bill

We are pleased to report that the Senate Education Committee passed SB 353, the seclusion and restraint bill, unanimously on January 11, 2012.

U.S. Dept. of Ed. Office of Civil Rights expands data collection

DRW just received a letter from the Office of Civil Rights to DPI informing DPI that it will collect Civil Rights data from ALL school districts (rather than a sampling) for the 2011-12 school year. This data includes educational services and outcomes for all public school students, disaggregated by race/ethinicity, sex, limited English proficiency and disability. It includes data about graduation rates, discipline and seclusion and restraint. We look forward to examining this data when it becomes public. Click here to read the letter.

Assembly Education Seclusion and Restraint Hearing goes well

The Assembly Education Commitee held its hearing on AB 455, the seclusion and restraint bill on January 10, 2012. It went very well as no one testified against it, and the School Administrators Alliance testified that it “enthusiastically” supported the bill. Here is DRW’s testimony on the bill: testimony AB 455.