greg ballard

Merging Emerging?

In his latest INforefront blog, Chris Cotterill, proposes decimating the number of State agencies. He suggests several mergers as a starting point, one of which would entail combining the Family and Social Services Administration, Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities, and Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services. Bad idea:

Chris, ordinarily I am in favor of the recommendations that you share on the blog. Today we disagree, at least in part. Merging the GCPD and IPAS into FSSA would be a bad move for people with disabilities.


First, their constituencies are different. GCPD and IPAS are tasked (federally) with serving people with disabilities (and, arguably, their families). In contrast, FSSA serves a broader service group, and must carefully contend with taxpayers at large and provider agencies. These latter two groups have interests that may directly conflict with those of the disability community.


This creates logistical issues. IPAS has the power to sue FSSA, but a agencies don’t sue themselves. Is everyone subservient to the FSSA Secretary? Do GCPD Members still have authority to appoint staff?


Finally, who is left to be the watchdog?

Cotterill did respond, acknowledging my concerns and raising a few of his own. Part of his response was inaccurate — GCPD has actually existed in one incarnation or another for decades — while another was astute. Without improved coordination between the three bodies, people with disabilities aren’t being served as fully as possible.

Anyway, the Cotterills are good people who have served the disability community. Chris’ mother began Indiana’s Ms. Wheelchair Indiana Pageant in 2009, is a long-time supporter of the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, and Editor of People on Wheels. But if merger is entertained, I hope people with disabilities are included in the discussion.


2014 Access and Inclusion Awards

I have been on a blogging hiatus, but I would be remiss if I completely failed to mention the winners of this year’s Access and Inclusion Awards. On July 31st, Mayor Ballard and his Advisory Council on Disability met at the Arts Garden to recognize:

  • The staff of the Indianapolis International Airport, winner of the Accessibility Award. In her presentation of the award, Emily Munson humorously explained that the Airport deserves to be commended for well-trained staff who aide disabled passengers with competence and respect. Perhaps upon learning this, less Hoosier travelers with disabilities will limit themselves to road trips?
  • Eskenazi Health, winner of the Employer Award. Eskenazi has recently begun a paid internship program for students with disabilities. Several current interns spoke, sharing that they were inspired by coworkers and enjoyed having some jingle in their pocket.
  • The Department of Public Works’ Solid Waste Team, winner of the Exceptional City Service Award. Did you know that disabled and elderly City-dwellers that cannot bring trash to the curb for pick-up can arrange for assistance from the Solid Waste Team? In rain, snow, and sleet, these guys are still on the job, giving extra help to thousands! Exceptional? I think so!
  • Melody Cooper, winner of the James Pauley Lifetime Service Award. John Dickerson of The Arc heaped praises upon Cooper and her tireless work on behalf of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He emphasized her service as President of Self Advocates of Indiana.

Congratulations, all!