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June 16, 2014                                                      

CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
Communication Director

Grandparents May Now Join Family Care Councils
Stakeholders Applaud Addition

TALLAHASSEE, FL —Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed legislation that expands the membership of Family Care Councils (FCC) to now include grandparents. There are 15 FCCs around the state that advise the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). FCCs are made up of self-advocates, parents, siblings, guardians, and now grandparents who are appointed by Governor Scott. Governor Scott has appointed or reappointed 99 Family Care Council members since taking office.

APD relies on the FCCs to share information and support all families throughout the state. The membership works each and every day to collaborate on issues and encourage independence for agency customers.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I thank our FCC bill sponsors, Senator Nancy Detert and Representative Jose Felix Diaz, who supported this measure and made sure it was passed during the Legislative session. I also want to thank Governor Scott for his continued support of our FCCs. Our Family Care Councils are vital to APD. They share with us their concerns and issues that affect our customers in their local communities.”

Senator Nancy Detert said, “I was happy to sponsor the FCC bill, and am very pleased my fellow senators agreed to support it. I believe grandparents are an integral part of families, and should have a role in helping to advise APD on issues affecting loved ones with developmental disabilities. Now that Governor Scott has signed the measure into law, I hope many grandparents volunteer to serve on the 15 FCCs all over the state and begin sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience to benefit our citizens with developmental disabilities.”

Representative Jose Felix Diaz said, “It was a great pleasure to work with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities on this good bill that will allow grandparents to become more involved in advocating for individuals with developmental disabilities through their membership on Family Care Councils. I consider it a priority of mine to work towards the well-being of these vulnerable individuals and I am humbled to have been a part of this effort.”

Family Care Council (FCC) Florida incoming Chairperson Pauline Lipps said, “I thank Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for supporting the expansion of membership for the Family Care Councils to now include grandparents. The FCCs have an important role in advising APD and advocating for families. Grandparents have a vital role in families and we are very appreciative of them being allowed to join the FCC's in the future.”

“Grandparents are an important part of the fabric of the developmental disabilities community," said Deborah Linton, chief executive officer of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. "We are pleased to see them included in the Family Care Council.”

“The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) thanks Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for recognizing the important role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren and that these grandparents can now be actively involved in influencing and shaping the Agency for Persons with Disabilities’ policies and resources that are dedicated to serving their grandchildren. The new legislation is a win-win for all involved and will bring wisdom and experience to the table for Florida’s Family Care Councils,” said Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Executive Director Suzanne Sewell.

“The Association of Support Coordinators is very pleased that Governor Scott and the Legislature have broadened the scope of Family Care Councils to include grandparents. It’s crucial that individuals with disabilities receive the full benefit of interaction presented by an extended family. With more Floridians living longer and more active lifestyles than ever before, and many already functioning as primary caregivers, our grandparents present an active and vital natural source of support. The voice of these grandparents can now be heard through the Family Care Councils,” said the Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida Chairperson Janice Phillips.

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit or call toll-free 1 866 APD CARES (1 866 273 2273).