What's New

Survival Coalition submits extensive comments to DPI to improve ESEA waiver request

The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations, of which DRW is a member, and DRW Executive Director Tom Masseau is one of the co-chairs, sent an extensive letter with comments to the Dept. of Public Instruction about its draft waiver request to the US Dept. of Education seeking to waive the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, formerly known as No Child Left Behind). While DRW and Survival generally support DPI’s effort to receive a waiver from the onerous provisions currently in federal law, this letter provides many ways to improve the waiver request and obtain better educational results and better accountability for students with disabilities in Wisconsin. You can read the full letter here: SC Letter to DPI – ESEA waiver comments.

Lift the Caps Hearing FINALLY Scheduled! Testify or Call Your Legislator – Or Both! Lift the Caps Call in Days This Week!

Thank you to Senator Vukmir for scheduling a hearing (Senate Bill 380) to Lift the Caps on Family Care/IRIS!
Public testimony by people who use Family Care and IRIS or
those who are waiting for long-term supports is welcome at this hearing!
Come to Madison on Thursday, Feb. 9th and share your story at the hearing
11 AM – Room 201 Southeast.
Remember Lift the Caps Call-In Days This Week!
Call the AARP Legislative Hotline ANYTIME FROM FEB. 7,8,9:
(The Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-term Care must also start
to move their version of the bill (Assembly Bill 477)!
Let Rep. Knodl know that he should move this bill now!
Telephone: (608) 266-3796 Or (888) 529-0024; Rep.Knodl@legis.wisconsin.gov

If you have called before, call again! If you haven’t called, NOW IS THE TIME! It is easy!!!
Let’s Create a Drumbeat for People with Disabilities in Wisconsin!
Our friends at AARP are letting us use their simple legislative hotline. When you call this number, you will be greeted by AARP and then asked to type in your zip code. (The call is not recorded or used in any other manner.) The phone service will then dial your representative or senator and connect you directly with that office!
Call the AARP Legislative Hotline ANYTIME FROM FEB. 7,8,9:
(You do not have to use this hotline, you can always call your rep directly on your own)
Why is this important?:
The bills in the Capitol right now to lift the caps on Family Care/IRIS and expand the programs statewide are STALLED and may DIE in committee if legislators do not take action in the next couple weeks. The caps will not be lifted unless these bills pass! These bills need to move now! More than 8000 people statewide are waiting for critical daily supports!
What you can say:
People with disabilities and seniors in Wisconsin need long-term supports to live their lives! Family Care and IRIS are important programs! It is time to lift the caps and let people who live in counties without these programs have access to these supports ! Move these bills (Assembly Bill 477 and Senate Bill 380) now!
Need more information?: http://www.dawninfo.org/news4/post.cfm/take-action-to-end-the-waiting-lists

DRW files important constitutional case

On February 1, 2012, DRW filed an important constitutional case in Dane County Circuit Court on behalf of an expelled foster child, challenging with Wisconsin expulsion statutes as violating the Wisconsin Constitution because they do not require school districts to provide education to expelled students. The case is against the Oregon School District, and it has been assigned to Judge Peter Anderson.


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 http://twitter.com/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 Tom.Masseau@drwi.org 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.