During FY20, the Alaska P&A was participated in 4 outreach events and interacted with around 195 people. During our general outreach events, we distribute our publications and informational materials. We also explain the mission and history of the P&A’s and what the Alaska P&A can help with and what services we offer to people with disabilities. Many of these conferences and fairs draw interested parties from all over the state and allows us to reach communities we would otherwise not interact with.
- 2019 Behavioral Health Aide Forum -
The Special Projects Coordinator at the Behavioral Health Aide Program with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium invited us to provide information about our services at the 10th annual BHA Forum. This event allowed us to connect with rural and village-based Behavioral Health Aides to present them with information about our services and provide publications. We distributed close to 100 publications and discussed what our services are and how to access them. In addition to distributing publications at the event, we also got a request to send a box of all of our publications to a rural village. Attendees were primarily service providers like Behavioral Health Aides, Behavioral Health Practitioners, and behavioral health professionals.
- Anchorage Regional Behavioral Health Coalition Staff Meeting Presentation -
We were invited by the CEO of Choices, which is a peer and recovery-oriented organization specializing in the community-based outpatient treatment of co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders to share information about our work and about the rep payee situation at a meeting of the Anchorage Regional Behavioral Health Coalition. We shared information about our services and publications with a group of around 20 staff from behavioral health agencies. We also discussed the current situation regarding representative payees in the state. We heard stories from providers whose clients have wrongfully gone into direct pay status or lost their benefits altogether because they are incapable of managing their own funds and their payee has either quit or been shut down by Social Security for charging fees. This is putting people with disabilities at risk of homelessness, financial exploitation, or even physical harm. This event allowed us to connect with service providers of people who are highly vulnerable due to their significant disabilities, and whose benefits may be threatened or who possibly may even have suffered harm because of the situation with payees in Alaska. We were able to offer the people who are witnessing these situations a point of contact within our agency who might be able to advocate on their client's behalf with Social Security, and also referred them to communicate these stories to the delegation. Representatives from behavioral health agencies including representatives from Choices, Department of Corrections, NAMI, Anchorage Community Mental Health, RuralCAP, Department of Behavioral Health, Assets, the Arc of Anchorage, and Hope Community Resources, among others.
- Stand Down 2019 -
This year, like many previous years, we participated in Stand Down, an event to provide Veterans-in-need with all types of assistance including but not limited to: medical screening, legal assistance, housing assistance, and employment assistance. This project specifically assists veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless or who already are homeless We interacted with 40 individuals, men and women, old and young, and families of individuals with disabilities. Many people we spoke with were veterans with disabilities related to their time in the military.
- The Virtual Transition Fair -
We were invited by the Governor’s Council on Disabilities & Special Education to present at the Virtual Transition Fair 2020 to highlight services and supports that exist in Alaska for students with disabilities who are transitioning from high school. There were 35 attendees at the Zoom event, with 12 presentations from different organizations, including the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation, the Alaska Job Center Network, Senior and Disability Services, the Division of Behavioral Health, Stone Soup Group, the Department of Education and Early Development, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the Center for Human Development, the Work Incentives and Planning Assistance, and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. Our staff gave an overview of our services, how to contact us, and talked more specifically about three areas that might be of interest to students around transition age. First, we highlighted the Client Assistance Program, as students may start accessing services through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Independent Living Centers while they transition out of school, and should be aware of the support that the Client Assistance Program can provide if they are having difficulty accessing those services. Second, we highlighted Supported Decision-Making Agreements, as students with disabilities transitioning from high school and their parents may be seeking information about guardianship or guardianship alternatives, and educating them on Supported Decision-Making Agreements may allow for individuals to have a less restrictive option than guardianship. Finally, P&A staff highlighted the voting rights of people with disabilities, as students approaching transition-age may be around 18 years old and able to vote for the first time. Overall, this event allowed us to share with students and their families how our services might be particularly helpful to them during this time of transition.
Footnote: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak we had to cancel a number of planned events and even more annual events did not take place. Unfortunately, it resulted in fewer outreach opportunities than planned and what is customary for us, in turn, this affects how many brochures we handed out and since the Vocational Rehabilitation offices in the state have been closed they have not contacted us for additional CAP brochures.