National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2020: Increasing access and opportunity

Arcare is proud to support National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Each October, NDEAM aims to educate the public about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. It also serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of inclusive hiring practices.

Ensuring that America’s workplaces continue to include and accommodate people with disabilities will be an important part of our economic rebound. Looking ahead, the Department will remain focused on the policies that led to a strong economy and record-low unemployment rates for persons with disabilities prior to the pandemic. A vigorous economic rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia

This October marks the celebration of the 75th NDEAM, and we couldn’t be more excited to share a few ideas for how you can help recognize this special occasion.

For Individuals:

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For Employers:

For more information about NDEAM, please visit the U.S. Department of Labor website. Follow Arcare on LinkedIn and Facebook to see our #NDEAM stories and celebrate with us by sharing your own!

Put funds in safe hands with representative payee services

One of the primary challenges many special needs individuals are faced with is maintaining a household budget. Arcare’s Representative Payee Program is designed to assist individuals with disability, mental health conditions, or those who struggle with addiction in managing their finances to help create peace of mind for themselves and their families.

What is a representative payee?

A representative payee manages funds received from Social Security and/or other government benefit program payments for persons who cannot manage — or who direct someone else to manage — his or her money.

Arcare was approved as an organizational representative payee by the Social Security Administration in 2000. Organizational representative payees include social service agencies, institutions, an official of a state or local government agency, or a financial organization.

How can Arcare’s payee services help?

As an organizational representative payee, Arcare can receive any government benefit payments on behalf of the enrolled beneficiary and coordinate the distribution of funds to cover daily living expenses, routine bills, and personal spending money. As a representative payee, Arcare’s primary responsibilities are to use these funds to pay for the current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiary and properly save any benefits not necessary for meeting current needs. We want to help beneficiaries remain independent in the community.

Arcare’s team of professionals works with each beneficiary and their support network to develop a budget according to Social Security and/or other program requirements, revisiting the budget if large changes to expenses or income occur. Staff can also assist clients with finding affordable housing and applying for additional benefits, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), if necessary. Then, on a weekly or monthly basis, Arcare will make funds available to the beneficiary for spending, groceries and other personal needs. This increases the beneficiaries’ independence, autonomy and integration in their communities.

In addition, the program relieves the anxiety and stress family members often face when dealing with finances for a loved one. Family members and the beneficiary’s support team can rest assured that financial matters are in trusted hands.

Who provides oversight?

The Social Security Administration provides training and oversight for all representative payees. As an organizational representative payee, Arcare must keep records of all expenses for each beneficiary and file annual reports with the Social Security Administration.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to learn more about Arcare’s payee services, contact us today at 913.648.0233, or send an email to John Briggs at

Arcare special needs trust options ease burden on families

Navigating services for a loved one with disabilities can be exhausting and time-consuming. How many of the following scenarios sound familiar?

  • Searching online brings up thousands of blog posts, scholarly articles, websites, and even YouTube videos dedicated to discussing the maze of disability services.
  • Spending hours a day for months filling out applications for a disability determination, services and supports to protect your loved one.
  • After receiving an eligibility determination from the state, some states, including Kansas and Missouri, often have a waitlist of 2-3 years for waiver services.

Nothing about the process seems to move quickly. So what do you do when something such as an unexpected inheritance, backpay from Social Security, or proceeds from a personal injury settlement threatens your loved one’s eligibility for services due to excess resources?

Arcare provides options

Arcare has developed its trust services to help you or your loved one with disability preserve the financial resources required to meet their needs without jeopardizing eligibility for government-provided supplemental benefits.

The Arcare Trust I and Trust II programs ensure individuals with disability can access the financial resources needed for daily life beyond food, shelter, and basic medical care while preserving eligibility for public benefits. Arcare handles the paperwork and disbursement of funds while delivering personalized service and attention to clients. This frees family members from the overwhelming responsibility of being a money manager or trustee.

Arcare offers two types of special needs trusts (SNT).

Arcare Trust I

The Arcare Trust I is a third-party special needs trust for parents and family members who want to provide for a person with special needs. In this situation, Arcare holds, protects and administers “inherited” money for the individual with a disability in a professional, caring and cost-effective manner.

Here are just some of the benefits of this type of trust:

  • The grantor(s) can name the remainder beneficiary.
  • It is cost-effective and less complex than a private third-party special needs trust.
  • The trust can be set up now or deferred until funds are distributed under an estate plan.
  • The beneficiary maintains eligibility for public benefits while benefiting from the assets in the trust.

Arcare Trust II

The Arcare Trust II is a self-settled special needs trust. This type of trust is for clients who have excess funds from a settlement, inheritance, back disability payment, or other special circumstance while receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and/or other public benefits. Instead of going into a spend-down situation, these funds can be placed into the Arcare Trust II.

Here are just some of the benefits of this type of trust:

  • The individual with disability can be the grantor and beneficiary.
  • The individual can continue receiving SSI, Medicaid, and other benefits while retaining their own savings, inheritance, personal injury settlement, back payment from Social Security, or other financial award.
  • The trustee provides money management for those who would not otherwise be able to handle a significant sum of money or who would be vulnerable to exploitation.
  • The trustee helps enhance the beneficiary’s quality of life beyond what would usually be possible for those on public benefits.

Serving thousands of beneficiaries since 1996

Arcare’s trust program has been operating since 1996 and currently has more than 1,000 beneficiaries enrolled. We provide regulation, understanding, fiscal oversight, and management to create an affordable trust option for you and your loved one’s needs.

If you have questions, would like more information about Arcare’s trust programs or would like to enroll in one of the trust options, call us today at 913.648.0233 to speak to our Trust Department. We are here to help.

Stronger Together: Professional associations work toward common goals

Professional associations offer an important opportunity for organizations and individuals in the same field of work to collaborate, educate, and problem-solve to better themselves and their professions. They often maintain professional standards and ethics, and represent the profession in discussion with other bodies, such as the legislature. Some professional associations operate on a national level, others on a state or local level.

Arcare is dedicated to providing individualized plans and services to individuals and families whose lives are affected by disability. With ever-evolving regulations for Trustees, Representatives Payees, and even Guardians, Arcare utilizes its membership in professional associations to stay informed of potential changes and find innovative solutions to new obstacles that may arise for a family. Arcare is a member of several valuable associations:

The National PLAN Alliance (NPA)
NPA provides invaluable resources, guidebooks and conferences, and it promotes efficiency in PLAN programs that strive to meet the planning needs of families whose lives are affected by disability. NPA hosts an annual conference attended by affiliate PLAN programs from all over the United States. In addition, NPA provides vital support services to new and existing programs, such as program and board development, fundraising, marketing and strategic planning assistance.

The National Guardianship Association (NGA)
NGA leads the way to excellence in guardianship by establishing and promoting nationally recognized standards for guardians, encouraging the highest levels of integrity and competence through guardianship education and protecting the interests of both guardians and people in their care. NGA encourages all guardians to be certified through the Center for Guardianship Certification and provides study support in the form of review course webinars and study guide publications.

Interhab is a Kansas association that provides Arcare the opportunity to help shape the form and direction of developmental disability policy in Kansas, as well as collaborate and learn with other disability support professionals across the state. Interhab has worked for more than 50 years to improve the lives of Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and it espouses that community services, employment and hosing should be available to all Kansans, regardless of race, national origin, religion, gender, age or disability. Interhab provides valuable membership resources and tools, including numerous committees, workgroups and task forces for issues specific to the disability community in Kansas.

As an active member of these professional associations, Arcare leverages additional resources of national and statewide organizations, identifies additional resources that may still be needed in our communities and helps create new resources to meet the ever-changing needs of families and clients. By working together toward our commonly shared goals of advocacy, professional development and education, and striving for excellence in service, we can continue making a positive difference in the lives of the individuals and families we serve. 

Arcare announces Topeka location

With great anticipation and excitement, Arcare Inc. announces the opening of a second location in Topeka, Kan., as we strive to meet the ever-evolving needs of families in planning for loved ones with a disability.

The expansion will allow us to serve additional clients and families in areas such as Topeka, Emporia, Ottawa, Manhattan and Junction City, as well as many rural communities in Kansas and Nebraska. While this decision was made before the global coronavirus pandemic began impacting the Midwest, the effects of the virus confirmed that additional communities need and will benefit from our services.

As a certified 501(c)(3), Arcare has proudly served families and individuals with special needs in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska for nearly 40 years. While much has changed throughout the last four decades, the mission of our organization has stayed the same: to provide caring and professional advocacy and support services to individuals with developmental, physical, or emotional disabilities while assisting the individuals in achieving their highest level of well-being consistent with the circumstances and resources available, and with appropriate consideration of family desires.

 Core services offered by Arcare at both the Overland Park and Topeka locations include:

  • The Life Care Plan Program providing comprehensive and individualized planning services for families whose lives are affected by disability, including acting as court appointed guardian or conservator.
  • Special Needs Trustee Services, including a third-party pooled trust and a self-settled pooled trust. Our trust services help ensure individuals with disability have the financial resources required to meet their needs without jeopardizing eligibility for government-provided supplemental benefits. Arcare’s trust services provide an affordable solution to a family’s trust needs, whether an individual is receiving a personal injury settlement, backpay from Social Security, or funds set aside by a family member for the individual with special needs.
  • Representative Payee Services providing a solution for many individuals with disabilities who experience difficulty in paying bills and managing a budget, as well as alleviating the fiduciary burden for family members.

These services allow Arcare to develop a plan of action for each client that responds to real-life situations today and anticipates the needs of the future. Arcare offers professionalism, ease of administration, expertise with disabilities, continuity and peace of mind for clients and families of loved ones with disabilities.

We understand that planning for a loved one with a disability can be an overwhelming responsibility. Contact us today by calling 913.648.0233 or emailing for answers to any questions you may have, and let us support you step-by-step throughout the process.

Arcare Charitable Fund grant will help shape the future of supported decision-making

The Arcare Charitable Fund is proud to announce it has awarded $25,000 in grant funding to The ARC of Douglas County, in concert with existing partnerships with the Self-Advocate Coalition of Kansas (SACK) and the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities (KUCDD).

Grant funding received from the Arcare Charitable Fund will support the creation of a comprehensive website, development of online training materials and delivery of trainings for Kansans with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families on the topic of supported decision-making.

What is supported decision-making?

Supported decision-making is a tool that allows individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities to retain their decision-making capacity by choosing a group of supporters to help them make choices. The ideal group, or “circle of support,” comprises trusted advisors, such as friends, family and professionals, who serve to assist the person with an intellectual/developmental disability in fully understanding, considering and communicating their decisions. Supported decision-making can help individuals in many areas of life: personal, financial and professional.

Research has shown that individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities who participate in supported decision-making can experience a better quality of life, including enhanced employment and independent living outcomes. With a knowledgeable, trained, and caring circle of support, supported decision-making can be an appropriate alternative to guardianship.

Developing a leading-edge resource

The comprehensive website developed with funds from the Arcare Charitable Fund will feature user-friendly information and materials about supported decision-making, as well as resources for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, their families and their circle of support. In addition, training materials and course agendas will be available on the website for other organizations who may wish to develop their own trainings on the topic. Currently, no other organization inside or outside the State of Kansas provides this level of training and resources on supported decision-making. This initiative will help position Kansas at the forefront of supported decision-making.

The Arcare Charitable Fund is excited for the opportunity to partner with The ARC of Douglas County in its efforts to provide continuing support to Kansans with intellectual/developmental disabilities, their families and their supporters. Together, we can enhance the quality of life, personal satisfaction and independence among Kansans with developmental disabilities. We look forward to sharing the developed resources and tools with you in the near future.

Key facts about receiving coronavirus economic impact payments

In the wake of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, U.S. lawmakers enacted a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that includes economic impact payments to the majority of Americans in order to combat the financial consequences of the outbreak. As part of the rescue package signed into law by President Donald Trump, Americans will receive checks of up to $1,200.

For individuals with a disability and those who may be receiving Medicaid services, here is important information about what to expect and how to obtain economic impact payments:

  • Independent adults (those not claimed as a dependent by a parent on their taxes) will receive the full amount of $1,200, as long as their income does not exceed $75,000 annually.
  • Those who receive Social Security payments in the form of SSDI and are mailed a form SSA-1099 annually will not need to take any additional steps in order to receive this payment. It will be direct-deposited into the account in which monthly Social Security benefits are deposited or mailed to the address where individuals receive monthly checks.
  • For individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), for whom the IRS does not send 1099s, a tax return for 2018 or 2019 is required. If one has not already been filed, a simple or abbreviated tax return for year 2019 can be filed through July 15, 2020. This requirement must be met in order to receive the stimulus check, even for those who do not typically file an annual tax return.
  • An abbreviated tax return can be filed for free online, and many community agencies can assist with preparing the abbreviated tax return. The IRS encourages any individual who must file an abbreviated tax return to include direct deposit information to avoid any unnecessary delays in receiving the economic stimulus. Upon receipt and processing of the abbreviated tax return, the IRS will direct deposit the payment to the account provided, or mail to a home address if direct deposit information is not provided.

It is important to note that stimulus money is not considered taxable income, and it will have no impact on an individual’s Medicaid eligibility or eligibility spenddown. 

Please check back for updates to this process and for a list of community organizations that can assist with filing an abbreviated tax return.

How Arcare is filling the service gap for individuals with disabilities amid Covid-19

It is no secret that the Covid-19 outbreak presents worrisome and sometimes overwhelming obstacles for individuals in the community who have a disability. Some may experience anxiety about bill payments, or the cost of ensuring they have an appropriate amount of medical supplies and necessary prescription medications on hand. Many are facing program cancellations, reduced available in-home services, and the emotional impact of social distancing.

Now, more than ever, Arcare is dedicated to ensuring our clients are receiving the necessary care and support they need during this difficult time.

Financial care

Arcare’s Representative Payee program offers financial peace of mind to enrolled clients by continuing to ensure that financial obligations are met in a timely manner. Payee services are often utilized by clients who have difficulties paying bills and managing a household budget. Arcare’s Payee Program staff works with each individual client to create a monthly budget to prioritize the basic needs of food and shelter expenses. Arcare staff manages the payment of these expenses. On a weekly or monthly basis, Arcare puts money on a bank cash card for the beneficiary to use for spending and groceries. Staff also work closely with each individual and/or the individual’s case manager as needed.

For clients who are beneficiaries of an Arcare special needs trust, Arcare’s staff manages and processes requests for disbursement from the trust to enhance the individual’s quality of life. These disbursements are for items or services not typically covered by insurance, public benefits, or considered a shelter expense (food, rent, most utilities). A few examples include paying for internet services to keep clients connected to their friends and family during social distancing, paying for necessary medical equipment for clients to use in their homes if not covered by another source, pet care and supplies, and any medical, nursing, or dental care not covered by another source.

Life Care Plan client support

Many of Arcare’s Life Care Plan clients receive services in their homes or day center through community service providers. Due to the severity of Covid-19, some day services have been suspended in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. Individuals who usually receive services at a day center are now being served in their homes. Because this creates a staffing strain on community service agencies, Arcare’s Life Care Plan staff keep in constant contact with providers in order to ensure clients’ individual needs are being met. In addition, Arcare staff continue monitoring each client’s living, working, and healthcare environments. Information gathered by Arcare staff is communicated regularly with the community service providers in an effort to identify and address potential issues before they become crises.

In the unfortunate event of a Life Care Plan client requiring hospitalization, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and state Medicaid agency restrictions often inhibit the regular community service provider from continuing services while the individual is hospitalized. After discharge from the hospital, some clients need skilled rehabilitation services before successfully transitioning back into their homes and community-based service programs. Arcare bridges the service and communication gap between hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and community service providers by continually monitoring, reporting, advocating, and keeping complete records for our clients. With Arcare’s assistance and continual communication with providers, Life Care Plan clients can seamlessly transition back into their homes and the community with the necessary care and services they require.

For Life Care Plan clients who may not have day services, Arcare helps address how these individuals continue to meet the needs of daily living, including access to food, in-home support, and having sufficient prescription medications on-hand. Additionally, Arcare staff educate and remind our clients about proper handwashing techniques, provide them with up to date resources on how to stay safe at home, and connect clients with additional community resources if necessary. With the help of Arcare, our clients can continue receiving the help that they need while maintaining a safe and healthy home environment.

Isolation mitigation

Perhaps one of the most prevalent concerns our clients face at this time is social isolation. Arcare’s Life Care Plan staff contact clients regularly to appropriately prevent and address feelings of isolation and the anxiety that isolation may cause. At this time, meetings with clients take place over the phone or web-based video conferencing, if available. In addition to these efforts, Arcare can appropriately communicate with service providers our isolation concerns and advocate for providers to assist clients with contacting their friends and family by phone, video calls, and social media.

Individuals with disabilities in our community are experiencing unprecedented challenges during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Together, with families and the support of community service providers and agencies, Arcare will continue to provide essential services and assist clients in achieving his or her highest level of well-being.

EMFV volunteer appreciation luncheon

Arcare executive director recognized as Honorary EMFV

Earlier this summer, the K-State Research and Extension Master Food Volunteer (EMFV) Program presented Barb Helm, Arcare’s executive director, with the first-ever Honorary EMFV certificate for her support and contributions to its Four-Course Living program. The honor was announced during the Johnson County EMFV annual volunteer appreciation luncheon, which was held at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center.

EMFVs are a designation of volunteers through the extension passionate about healthy living, food and giving back to the community. Back in 2015, two EMFVs, Jean Porter and Sherry Carter, approached Barb about developing a program through the extension catering to adults with disabilities. Barb then wrote a grant through the Arcare Charitable Fund to establish Four-Course Living. Four-Course Living provides adults with special needs information and skills necessary to live safe, independent lives. Classes offered through the program underscore the importance of four specific topics:

Barb Helm
Barb Helm during the Johnson County EMFV annual volunteer appreciation luncheon

Nutrition – Class participants learn the importance of healthy eating and portion control. To encourage healthy choices, students are each given the USDA’s MyPlate food icon as a guide.

Safety – Kitchen tools and appliances can be dangerous to use without the proper training. In safety courses, students are shown how to handle food properly, use basic knife skills and safely prepare meals.

Planning – Planning ahead can make eating on a fixed income less stressful. Students learn how to combine ingredients across multiple meals, grocery shop using a circular and plan their meals in advance.

Prep – Students combine skills from the other courses in this cooking class, in which they work together to prepare a meal from start to finish and enjoy the food afterward.

Information about Four-Course Living’s 2018 classes is available now. Courses can also be tailored for Residential or Day Service Providers interested in learning about managing expenses while also providing healthy options their residents can help prepare. For details, contact Jean Porter at (913) 236-5019.

Grant funding will help hundreds of Johnson County individuals with disabilities secure competitive employment

After being awarded a combined more than $2 million in grant funding, Johnson County Developmental Supports and Johnson County Mental Health will be able to help secure competitive employment for a goal of 320 individuals served by either agency over the next five years. Both agencies have received an End-Dependence Grant from the Kansas Rehabilitation Services division of the Kansas Department for Children and Family Services.

Both JCDS and JCMH will use these grants to improve competitive employment outcomes for Johnson County individuals with disabilities. The target population will be adults served by JCDS or JCMH and require Supported Employment Services to obtain and maintain employment.

The JCDS grant provides 100 percent funding for four employment specialist positions and the grant for JCMH provides 100 percent funding for two full-time vocational counselors, one part-time vocational counselor and one part-time peer support specialist.

“Nationally, unemployment for adults with severe mental illness is estimated at more than 85 percent,” says Tim DeWeese, executive director, Johnson County Mental Health. “Our Vocational Services team receives daily requests from our clients who want to work in the community. We are thrilled this grant will allow us to help an additional 200 clients find work.”

“The End-Dependence grant will allow JCDS to expand our Progressive Employment model which creates temporary-to-permanent work experiences that break down barriers to employment for some of the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities we serve,” said Chad VonAhnen, executive director, Johnson County Developmental Supports. “We strongly encourage our clients to consider working in the community to increase their level of dependence and self-sufficiency, and are thankful for this grant that will help us with our mission.”

The Kansas Department for Children and Family Services announced this program October, 2014. The goal of the $25 million investment for the state of Kansas is to help 2,000 Kansans secure community employment.

Arcare works closely with JCDS to support positive lifestyle choices of many of our mutual clients.

Photo credit: Johnson County Development Supports