Archive for January, 2009

UCP Executive Director Post to Change.Gov

The inauguration of a new president takes place tomorrow. Like many Americans, I am proud that our country is an example to the world of what peaceful and orderly change in government means in a democratic society. The Obama Administration has developed a website called Change.Gov, where they are asking for input from indivdual citizens on how to change government. Following is the post I entered today:

I work for United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee. In our state, people with cerebral palsy and developmental disabilities other than mental retardation do not receive dedicated DD services. In fact, our State Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities doesn’t even serve people with Developmental Disabilities. In my job, I interact daily with young families who need intensive home and community based supports that are not available to them. To make matters worse, because our state has no intention of serving this population, their critical needs are not even registered on a waiting list.

In my personal life, my husband and I assist in caregiving for my mother, who has Alzheimer’s Disease. We are providing home based care for her because we believe home is the best place for her to have quality of life. Because there is no source of funding for home based care, my father is spending over $100,000 annually out of pocket to bring in personal supports for her.

My husband’s mother recently passed away, and we are now taking over guardianship of his adult sister, who has an intellectual disability. Along with many other families, our family has been overwhelmed with the caregiving needs of persons with severe disabilities. We have learned that there is no consistency from state to state, or by functional need, in the services that people can receive. We have also learned that there is little access to caregiving supports for individuals who do not meet complicated and illogical eligibility requirements.

As this Administration seeks to stabilize the economy, we see this as a critical need and a way that non-skilled workers can be employed in jobs that have genuine meaning. As the baby boomers are aging, the needs for home and community based care for the disabled are increasing every day. We would very much like to be involved in an effort to develop a national policy and standards for every state in providing Home and Community Based Services for people with disabilities that takes into account age-appropriate supports as well as the unique needs of families. As Americans, we have a responsibility to care for our loved ones in the most humane and loving way possible. Please accept our offer to volunteer in this effort.

There are major changes needed to the Medicaid and Medicare programs. If we make these changes, and if we work together through state and local initiatives, we can put Americans to work in meaningful jobs. We can serve citizens with the most critical needs in the way they and their families deserve to be served.

Deana Claiborne
UCP Executive Director


January 19, 2009 at 5:19 pm 1 comment

State Budget Woes Force Cuts to UCP Family Support Program

Program serves people with severe disabilities

The state has notified non-profit disability service providers that the Tennessee Family Support Program, which is the state’s only program serving persons with certain types of severe disabilities, has been cut in the amount of one million dollars for the current fiscal year. Reductions are projected at two million dollars in the next fiscal year.

United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee holds the state contract for services in Rutherford County. According to Rutherford County Family Support Program Coordinator, Laura Crain, the agency is faced with decreasing services to families in the amount of $34,461 between now and June 30, 2009. “It is extremely difficult to make these cuts,” says Crain, “Rutherford County is the fastest growing community in the state. The Family Support allocations are based on census data, but we haven’t had a new census recently, so our original allocation is low in comparison to the rest of the state. We have a long waiting list for services in Rutherford County. Our volunteer based council had already reduced allocations to individuals in order to accommodate some people with extreme needs on the waiting list. Now we have to make even further reductions.”

UCP Executive Director Deana Claiborne acknowledges that the state’s budget shortfall required immediate action, but she says the state could have found more strategic ways to cut funds. “Family Support provides essential assistance to the state’s most underserved disability populations. In most other states, there is a far more comprehensive array of home and community based Medicaid Wavier services for these groups, particularly for children and young adults with developmental disabilities like cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, and other severe lifelong conditions.”

The Rutherford County Family Support program is now serving 192 persons. The program gives priority to children with developmental disabilities who are not served in the Tennessee Division of Mental Retardation Medicaid Waiver programs. Claiborne notes that while Family Support has always served a large number of people with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities, the largest growing population in need in Rutherford County includes children with autism.

“We can only hope that donors in Rutherford County will step up and make private contributions to help these families,” says Crain. Contributions to United Cerebral Palsy are tax deductible.

Contact: Deana Claiborne, Executive Director
United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee
1200 9th Avenue North, Suite 110
Nashville TN 37208

January 14, 2009 at 1:16 am 1 comment

Drew and Heather are Getting Married!

Long time UCP volunteers Drew Bennett and Heather Hudson are getting married, and all of us at UCP offer our heartfelt congratulations!

Drew Bennett, formerly of the Tennessee Titans and now with the St. Louis Rams, founded the “Drew Crew” when he lived in Tennessee. The Drew Crew consists of friends, fans, family members and young people from UCP who cheer for Drew both on and off the field.

Many of us became acquainted with Drew and Heather when they first started dating — then they became a fixture at all of UCP’s events and activities, especially our sports night and wheelchair basketball games. Drew and Heather formed a special connection with our families, and as that bond grew, so have the many friendships they have helped to create.

We created a webpage so friends and family members could honor this special occasion with a gift that benefits the many young people with disabilities who have grown close to Drew and Heather through their work with UCP. Go to:

We also hope friends will post your own messages to Drew and Heather on this blog!

January 7, 2009 at 7:24 am Leave a comment


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