For 50 years, Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) and Marca Industries have worked hand in hand to provide opportunities for the people served in Marion County. In fact, the relationship was so close that the community knew them as one entity.
“We’ve always been two separate organizations,” Cheryl Plaster, superintendent, Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities said. “But because we worked so closely together, it was just easier for the community to understand the work at Marca. It was more tangible and visible, so we identified as Marca.”
MCBDD has touched the lives of over 800 people in Marion County by providing a connection to resources and necessary services with the goal of creating a fulfilling life. Of those, 150 people are currently using Marca for services. Tax dollars support 42 of those individuals with no waivers.
Marion County has 165 individuals that are on waivers, which means that funding is split between federal funds (60%) and tax dollars paid to MCBDD (40%).
“We are so grateful for the Board of DD as well as Marion residents for supporting those 42 people. They need the socialization, goals and work opportunities while the guardians need the respite. Neither would happen without the support of MCBDD services from our community,” Ryan Ballinger, chief operating officer, Marca Industries said.
In 2015, the news that MCBDD would have to privatize their direct service deliveries (day services and transportation) came in the form of a Federal mandate with the goal of providing more choices for those served with a “conflict-free” case management system. The philosophy makes sense. It is to make society more inclusive for people with developmental disabilities and give the people served opportunities to participate in community activities with other citizens. Marca offers great services, but it is an environment where people are not integrated into the community. The federal government wants to ensure County Boards do all that they can to provide community opportunities where it makes sense as well as day programming such as what Marca offers.
With this mandated split, Marca absorbed roughly half of MCBDD’s employees. Marca was already a private, incorporated organization with its own board With this transition, the County Board will pay to have services provided, where before, the services were absorbed in the every day operating budget.
“Marca is now state certified to provide services and continues to complete all necessary steps to ensure staff is well trained with a high level of quality and support for those we serve,” said Ballinger.
“I feel like we are ahead of the game on the end goal of inclusion and integration of the people we serve. We already have great programs in place that do just that” said Plaster. “The main challenge is educating the community on MCBDD’s role. We are working hard to create a better picture to our community about our worth, our role, and the importance of a County Board to Marion County,” she added.
Ballinger explains, “We provide vocational habilitation or work opportunities through identifying skill levels and supporting them in reaching their end goal. We also spend a lot of time preparing people for community integration by learning about their likes and interest and then focusing on those things for a good fit when the time comes for them to become employed in the community.” He added that they work closely with the County Board on this.
The responsibility of Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities lies in the connection and assessment side. Plaster clarifies that MCBDD’s role is to determine eligibility, assess the needs, identify services and resources to help the people served achieve a full life through living, learning, and earning in the community.
“When a person comes to us at any stage in their life, they go through a process to discover what level of care and resources are needed. We also supply them with a case manager called an SSA who helps connect them with the resources they need to fulfill their goals,” Plaster said. “Our support is very individualized to ensure that each person gets what they need. We create an Individual Service Plan (ISP) for every person and review it regularly to ensure they receive quality care and access to necessary resources.”
“Everyone is different,” she explains. “So we spend a lot of time making the people we serve feel like they are the most important person to us – because they are.”
“Our care and concern for those we serve never ends. We are with many of them from birth until death, assisting them and their loved ones along the way to help them create the most independence possible,” said Plaster.
Plaster adds that they work with many providers in the community to link people with the right support and services. Marca is just one of those providers. Others provide housing and transportation.
Plaster and Ballinger agree that it is important for the community to accept people with developmental disabilities into our community and everyday lives. They said, almost in unison, that the people they serve just want to be loved and accepted – just like all of us.
They also were also jointly proud of all of the staff at MCBDD and Marca.
“Their hard work and dedication to making the transition smooth and seamless for our individuals are to be commended. After all, if the change is hard on us, we know it is magnified for those we serve. The staff did an outstanding job providing stability to them as we transitioned,” Plaster noted.
MCBDD and Marca may be separated, but their focus is very unified. It is to provide the best quality of life for all through integration into our community and providing access to resources to allow a full life.