The Communicator – May 2017

2017 Changes in Early Intervention

by Melissa Leighton


2017 has been an exciting year thus far for our Early Intervention program. This is due to the Early Intervention lead agency change from the Ohio Department of Health to the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DoDD). The Mahoning County Early Intervention program and the Department of Developmental Disabilities have been busy working together to fulfill Ohio’s Early Intervention mission.

Our department provides valuable services to families of infants and toddlers, from birth to age 3, with developmental delays and disabilities. We build upon and provide supports and resources to assist family members and caregivers to enhance children’s learning and development through everyday learning opportunities. In March, the Department of Developmental Disabilities launched an Early Intervention website that has already become a wonderful resource for families and professionals alike.

Please visit the website at

Francesca is Making Things Happen in Her Life

by Will Bagnola

Meet Francesca Lynn Bagnola. Francesca is 21 years old, graduated from Canfield High School and is finishing the program in Hospitality and Culinary Arts at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.

As part of Francesca’s transition from public school to work and postsecondary school, she recently participated in a job assessment through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and VocWorks. Her job assessment was completed at the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments in downtown Youngstown. About midway through the assessment, the managers at Eastgate were so impressed by Francesca and her work that they offered her a job as a clerical assistant.

Francesca began employment with Eastgate in early March. Francesca’s coworkers at Eastgate have been extremely supportive of her and are a perfect example of an employer open to hiring people with disabilities. For several years now, Francesca has volunteered time during her day to working with the Sisters in the health care wing of the Ursuline Motherhouse in Canfield. She has also made time weekly to assist with the preschoolers at the Ursuline Preschool and Kindergarten. Francesca had to give up her volunteer-time with the Girl Scout office in Boardman to take on her job at Eastgate.

Francesca recently played the role of General Cartwright in Guys and Dolls at the Main Street Theater in Columbiana. She enjoys music, playing the piano, and singing. Francesca participates in Special Olympics’ bocce and track and loves her weekly sessions at The Arc’s The Next Chapter Book Club. Francesca has applied to the TOPS Program at YSU, and may attend YSU in the Fall, participating in the program there designed for young adults with intellectual disabilities. Francesca lives in Canfield with her mom and dad, Lori and Will, her sister, Camille, a sophomore at the University of Dayton, and her dog, Luca.

She is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her first niece or nephew; Francesca’s older sister, Angeline, and her husband, Scott, who live in Cincinnati, are expecting their first child in November.

Superintendent’s Message

by Bill Whitacre

Nearly three years ago the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) learned that our agency would someday need to transition our Medicaid waiver programs to other providers in Mahoning County. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) advised Ohio in 2014 that they had concerns over the way Ohio operated Developmental Disabilities Medicaid waiver services. As a result of these concerns, CMS mandated that Ohio change the way services are offered, with the most significant change being that county boards could no longer be a provider of waiver services while also providing casemanagement (SSA). Due to the decisions made by CMS, MCBDD set out to develop a plan to make this transition process as smooth as possible for the individuals and families we serve. As part of our Transition plan, our Board has asked MASCO Inc., to assume some of our operations.

To comply with the CMS mandates, MCBDD has selected the date of 9/1/18 for services at the Meshel facility to transition to MASCO. As a result of this transition, MCBDD will no longer provide adult day services* or adult transportation at Meshel past 8/31/18. This date was chosen after many meetings of the Transition Committee, which is comprised of staff, board members, family members and other community Stakeholders. The committee chose this date after thorough discussions regarding the impact of this transition on the various groups of people affected by this process. Throughout this entire process, the individuals served and their families will always be the first consideration in any decision.

Once the transition of Meshel occurs, it is likely that the Centre @ Javit Court would go through the transition process 6-9 months later. The Transition Committee believes this type of transition will be smoother for the individuals involved in our programs versus trying to transition all current MCBDD waiver service operations on one singular date. We are having on-going discussions regarding the Bev Road facility. Due to shrinking enrollment, there is the possibility that Bev Road will be consolidated with the Centre @ Javit and Meshel.

The MCBDD is committed to providing timely, accurate and transparent information to all stakeholders. Please watch for more written communications, visit our website and watch for our social media posts.

For more information please contact:

MCBDD Superintendent Bill Whitacre


*Services at Leonard Kirtz School will not be affected by this transition*

Stakeholders Meet to Review Data on Incidents

by Karen Gallagher

The Annual Stakeholders meeting was held on March 31, 2017, at the County Board. The Stakeholders committee is a collection of providers, parents, individuals, community leaders and county board employees who review data regarding Major Unusual Incidents (MUIs). On March 31st, this committee reviewed data that represented MUIs for the year 2016 and compared it to each of the three years prior. In Mahoning County in 2016, the highest category for MUIs was Unscheduled Hospitalizations, however, this is the norm.

After the Stakeholder members review the data and discuss the findings, suggestions are made to keep individuals as healthy and safe as possible. One important suggestion is that the County Board is encouraging that after an individual chokes, they should have a speech therapist observe that individual and then make recommendations if a swallow evaluation is needed. Another reminder is that after an individual chokes and the Heimlich is performed, that person should be evaluated at the Emergency Room. In 2015, Mahoning County did have an individual who “coded” in the Emergency Room after having the Heimlich performed successfully at a home site.

Additionally, the Stakeholders discussed the fact that a Supervision Committee was formed and tasked with defining specific levels of supervision. Supervision levels in the near future will be based upon risk. These supervision levels will be presented at a future provider/SSA meeting. Again, these measures are defined in an effort to protect the health and welfare of our individuals. The next SemiAnnual Stakeholder’s meeting will occur on September 29th. Please see the MCBDD Website to review the data and graphs reviewed by this committee.

Editor’s Note: By law, it is the responsibility of the Investigative Services Unit to investigate all incidents of unscheduled hospitalizations. This is done to protect the health, safety and welfare of those we serve and is not an indication of the quality of care received by the person.

What are the “Must Haves?”

by Tim Gabrelcik

Q – Why are we here in the field of Developmental Disabilities?

A- To provide a good life for those receiving services and to help them flourish. One of the Good Life tools highlights  the “Must Haves” of every individual.

• Value- We all want to be valued.

• Time- We all need others to give us a few seconds to say hello, to hear our story or simply time when we may be upset. • Space- sometimes we need space to ourselves.

• Positive Tone & Words- Our daily tasks can get frustrating leading us to speak in a harsh tone or using negative words with those around us. Pay attention to your tone of voice and words you use.

• Living in their Shoes- Perhaps the person you interact with had a rough morning, or a challenging start to the day. Consider their perspective before reacting.

• Be Committed to the relationship by reflecting on your own interactions with others.

Take a moment to observe if these must haves are being used by those around you. Do you use these tools? We can provide a good life with positive & intentional interactions not only to those we serve, but to our peers, coworkers & family as well.


Adaptive Physical Education at LKS Helps Mind, Body and Spirit

by Brenda Thomas, APE Instructor

What is Adapted Physical Education (A.P.E.)? Adapted PE can be defined as physical education that is modified to meet the needs of each student. Many students cannot follow the traditional physical education curriculum without serious adaptations. An adapted physical education teacher adapts or modifies all activities so that they are as appropriate for the person with a disability as it is for the person without a disability.

Who receives Adapted Physical Education Services?

The IEP team, including the APE teacher, determines the need for this service. An adapted physical education evaluation must be given to determine eligibility. Adapted PE is a direct service but often gets mistaken for a related service.

Where is adapted physical education provided?

Adapted PE is a program not a placement. Like all types of special education, A.P.E. is offered in the least restrictive environment. Students with disabilities must be included to the maximum extent possible in the general physical education program. Some students with disabilities who are receiving A.P.E. will remain in the general education setting. Others will receive APE accommodations which may include modifications, assistance from staff, A.P.E. specialist or separate PE class setting. Some examples of modifications are lowering a net or hoop, using large, colorful and/or lightweight objects and using a ramp for the ball to roll on when bowling. Adapted physical education is designed to empower each student to be successful in their gross motor environment. Along with success comes the sense of pride and accomplishment which foster a positive self-esteem.



Special Recognitions

Charles“Chuckie” Segesto (right) has a warming personality and personable disposition that exceeds his size. He has an innocent manner about himself and enjoys being a part of whatever may be happening. He treasures the opportunity to participate within the various volunteer sites. Chuckie assists the custodians in limited aspects of housekeeping. He is a genuine delight to be with.



Carter Fortune  has done a wonderful job in habilitation room two. Carter gets along with everybody in his area. He has a wonderful personality and demeanor. He is always smiling and is always happy. He’s a joy to work with.




Diane Warchol  joined a new area and with this change in routine she adapted with ease. She brought her sweet laughter and smile with her. She has made friends with everyone in the area and continues to thrive in this area.




JJ Repasky and Sal Garbarz The LKS Adapted Physical Education Program has created a walking program where teachers and students monitor their progress walking the building.





Staff Recognitions

Keri Saxon-10 years

Henry Gillam-5 years

Christopher Martin-5 years

Christina Moore-5 years



Staff Retirements

Susan Posey, Transportation, 11 years

Millie Parker, Transportation, 12 years

Sue Hart, Investigative Agent, retires after 31 years

For more information on MCBDD programs or activities, please visit us at:

If you have any questions or would like further information on the activities listed, Please contact Paul Iden at 330-797-3051.


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