Arc Erie County Pennsylvania Spring Conference

20 May 2022
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Arc Erie County Pennsylvania Spring Conference

The Arc Erie County Pennsylvania

Join the Arc of Erie County, Pennsylvania, for a virtual conference for families of children and adults with disabilities, educators, service and support coordinators, and home and community-based service providers. Topics include person-centered planning, future planning, dual eligibility, and assistive technology.

Sponsored by PA Link
PA Link to Aging and Disability Resources logo
9:00 a.m. Welcome by Rhonda Schember, Board Chair of The Arc Erie County, and Steve Suroviec, President and Chief Executive Officer of Achieva

9:15 a.m. Planning a Life of Personal Significance Across the Life Course
  • How do I create a vision for a good life?
  • How do I know about and understand all the different resources available in the community?
  • How do I engage in future planning?

If these questions resonate with you, then by attending, you will leave with some strategies to start person-centered planning.

Jack Butler, B.A., is the Director of Person-Centered Supports at Achieva. Jack has worked at Achieva for 27 years providing a continuum of services, including direct care, human resources, training, and engagement in person-centered thinking, planning, and action.  He is an Ambassador of Charting the Lifecourse framework and a University of Delaware Leadership Graduate and speaker.  One of his most recent professional achievements has been working to end the practice of paying people piece rate and subminimum wage.  Achieva has shuddered and sold 7 of 7 previously operated sheltered congregate settings and shifted supports to 100% community-based.  


10:30 a.m. The Importance of Future Planning 

Individuals with disabilities and their families face significant challenges in planning for their futures.  Concerns about the future are very real.  The presentation will focus on how Special Needs Trusts and ABLE Accounts can assist in that planning, and still enable the individual with a disability to maintain essential government benefits such as Medical Assistance, Medicaid Waivers, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicare. We will also discuss our Charitable Residual Account Program.  This program provides supplemental support and services for children and adults with disabilities who are unable to pay for services or support on their own. Individuals can apply for grants to cover things such as home and vehicle modification, assistive technology, and recreational activities.

Maria Smith is Director of Education and Outreach of Achieva Family Trust, a division of Achieva.  She has been with the Family Trust for the past 23 years.  Before her role as Vice President of the Trust, Maria worked for many years in the Allegheny County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Program.  Before leaving Allegheny County, she was the Deputy Director of Mental Retardation Services (now known as Intellectual Disabilities).  

Patty Yerina is the Coordinator of Education and Outreach at Achieva Family Trust.  Prior to joining the Trust six years ago, Patty worked for Achieva Vocational Supports in a sales and marketing position for five years.  Patty is an experienced presenter on Future Planning and, among other things, facilitates a monthly newsletter and speaker series on disability-related topics.


11:45 a.m. Assistive Technology  (AT) – What Is It and How Are these Devices Helpful?

Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF), a statewide non-profit organization, will provide information about assistive technology and how these devices can help students who are transitioning into adulthood live more independently and safely. The presentation will also include an overview of smart home devices, including smart speakers, doorbells with a camera, sensors, and items that can control the environment. Information about funding resources will also be provided because it’s not enough to know about AT – it’s essential to understand how to get what you need!

Susan Tachau co-founded Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) in 1998 and has served as its Chief Executive Officer since 2003. Susan is a co-author of PATF’s publications Smart homes Made Simple: Your Guide to Smart Home Technology, Cents and Sensibility: A Guide to Money Management, and Funding Your Assistive Technology: A Guide to Funding Resources in Pennsylvania. Susan serves on several Boards of Directors and Advisory Committees, including the National Disability Institute, National Disability Finance Coalition, and PA Statewide Independent Living Council. Susan and her husband are the parents of three adult children, one of whom is an assistive technology user.


1:00 p.m. Using Medicare and Medicaid:  A Primer for 
Dual Eligibles

This presentation includes:

  • Basic information about how Medicare works – its function, characteristics, and vocabulary
  • The concept of dual eligibility - individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid – and coordination of these benefits in accessing healthcare services
  • The impact of CHC on the utilization of Medicaid coverage by dual-eligible beneficiaries

Mr. McKendree is the Pennsylvania Healthcare Benefit Solutions program director, a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency helping people access affordable healthcare services through counseling, education, and advocacy. Before his work at PHBSP, Bill was program manager for the Allegheny County APPRISE office – Pennsylvania’s Health Insurance Assistance Program. During his 13 years at APPRISE, more than 20,000 residents of Allegheny County were helped each year as they navigated through the complexities of state and federal healthcare benefit programs.

And before running Allegheny County APPRISE, he was director of the Western Pennsylvania Center for Aging Services, helping Pennsylvania’s seniors access medical, legal, and social services. In addition to his work at PHBSP, Bill teaches at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy and is preceptor for the School of Pharmacy’s Experiential Learning Program at the Birmingham Free Health Clinic (on Pittsburgh’s South Side). He also regularly teaches health law and health care policy classes at Penn State University, La Roche University, and Community College of Allegheny County.  


The Arc of Erie County is now an affiliate of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh as a member of the Achieva Family of organizations. The affiliation will help to support advocacy services needed by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in Erie County when navigating complicated special education and adult service systems, as well as give them access to professional, compassionate, and innovative disability services offered by Achieva’s other affiliate organizations (Achieva Support, The Family Trust, Autism Connection of Pennsylvania)


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