The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Directory links disabled with helpers
BY KATIE THISDELL
Connecting people who are looking for work and those needing assistance with disabilities should get easier thanks to a new online, statewide directory.
Ask Brenda Wickard, the mother of a teenage boy with autism.
She says she’ll soon use the website: connect.publicpartnerships.com. Before she had to rely on word of mouth to find someone to work with John, 16.
“You’re always on the lookout,” said Wickard, who lives in Spotsylvania County.
Her son needs someone who can exercise and do “guy things” with him—such as pizza eating competitions at CiCi’s Pizza.
One personal attendant recently left for school, so now Wickard needs someone new.
The searchable online directory is part of a two-year grant to the Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living. Fredericksburg’s disAbility Resource Center is one of those centers.
Kim Lett, program manager and deputy director of the local center, said the directory is a much-needed effort to help families make matches with attendants, a task that often requires many phone calls or searching through a variety of websites.
The disAbility Resource Center maintains a printed list of more than 200 possible attendants at its Fredericksburg office.
“When you get the list, and you go to call, you probably have to call several names on the list before you find somebody, if you find anybody,” Lett said. “At least [the online directory is] a beginning spot.”
Recruitment to find more to work as attendants has picked up over the past year with the grant from Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.
Local workshops have been held several times to tell people what it’s like to be an attendant, or a consumer-directed assistant.
Assistants give individuals with mental, physical or other disabilities the support they need to live in their community. This can range from helping lift someone from a wheelchair to going on long walks with teenagers.
No special training is required to work as an attendant, and hours are flexible.
The only requirements are to be at least 18 years old, have a Social Security number, and pass background checks.
Many people use Medicaid waivers to pay for their assistants. The amount that assistants are paid will depend on the location in the state—hourly wages are $11.47 in Fredericksburg and the counties of Stafford and Spotsylvania, but $8.86 in King George and Caroline counties.
An afternoon and evening workshop are set for Monday.
Lett hopes to continue having workshops after the grant expires this month to continuously find people interested in working as attendants.
The disAbility Resource Center currently helps 400 families find attendants.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
The disAbility Resource Center will hold two free workshops on Monday for anyone who wants to learn about becoming a personal assistant to provide care to those with disabilities.
Those interested must be 18 years old, have a Social Security number and pass background checks.
WHEN: Workshops on Monday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m.—1 p.m. (includes lunch) or 6—8 p.m. (includes dinner).
WHERE: 409 Progress St., Fredericksburg.
The new searchable directory for personal attendants and families went live on the Internet a few weeks ago.
If you’re an attendant, you can enter information about your location and skills.
Families may search for tasks they would like performed. Go online: connect.publicpartnerships.com/LoginASD.aspx