December 6, 2019: The Capitol Connector View in browser

December 6, 2019

In This Issue:

  • Issue Spotlight - Sexual Violence Prevention
  • “Treat People Like People” Campaign Seeks to Prevent Sexual Violence by Promoting Power of People with Disabilities

  • New Project to Support Sexual Violence Survivors with Disabilities in Minnesota
  • Updates from Washington, D.C. 
  • Mark Your Calendars
  • Noteworthy News & Resources
Issue Spotlight
Sexual Violence Prevention

The 2020 legislative session is just two months away - starting on Tuesday, February 11! Our public policy team has been hard at work over the summer and fall to identify issues impacting Minnesotans with disabilities and their family members statewide. We want to make sure that our public policy priorities for the 2020 session focus on solutions to promote human and civil rights, advance equity, and support true belonging in community.

Between now and the start of session, each issue of The Capitol Connector will highlight an item to be included in our legislative agenda. We’re calling it our “Issue Spotlight”. Today’s focus is sexual violence prevention.

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) experience sexual violence at a rate seven times higher than the rest of the population, and 66% of sexual violence incidents are perpetrated by someone they know - such as a family member, intimate partner, or staff. We can help begin to address this public health crisis by incorporating sexual violence prevention into direct support staff orientation and annual training.

Training direct support staff about sexual violence prevention, and teaching them to identify the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse, can give them the skills necessary to help prevent sexual violence against people with I/DD.

The Arc Minnesota is working with a coalition of advocates from the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance, Proof Alliance, the Autism Society of Minnesota, the Minnesota Council on Disability, Fraser, Upstream Arts, and more, to advance this proposal during the upcoming legislative session.

We are also meeting with service providers and trade associations to discuss the proposal, and ensure that it receives support from as many stakeholders in our community as possible.

With questions or for more information about the proposal, and to get involved in the effort to address sexual violence prevention during the upcoming session, please contact me at

“Treat People Like People”
“Treat People Like People” Campaign Seeks to Prevent Sexual Violence by Promoting Power of People with Disabilities

Legislative advocacy is just one element in the effort to prevent sexual violence against Minnesotans with disabilities. Broad-based prevention strategies, aimed at long-term social and systems change, must also be prioritized and championed by our entire community. The new “Treat People Like People” campaign seeks to do just that, by shifting society’s understanding of people with disabilities from weak and vulnerable, to honoring and respecting their power and capacity.

In his recent “Star Tribune” article about the campaign, which was created by the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Ombudsman for Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities, Chris Serres writes, “the unconventional campaign… marks the first time that Minnesotans with disabilities have played a central role in the messaging of a statewide campaign to prevent abuse and neglect. And unlike many anti-abuse campaigns, which reduce victims to impassive caricatures, ‘Treat People Like People’ features people with disabilities as fully actualized humans, with voices and dreams of their own.” You can find Mr. Serres’ full article about the campaign at

The “Treat People Like People” website, launched last week, outlines the full scope of the campaign, noting that it was “designed to raise awareness of abuse and neglect of people with disabilities and to educate people... on how to identify, report and respond to abuse of people with disabilities. The campaign highlights the value and dignity of each person living with a disability.” Offering information about sexual violence prevention for individuals with disabilities, their parents and family members, service providers, and support professionals, the website offers a wealth of tools and resources that you can find at

Check out the full “Treat People Like People” website at

Take the campaign pledge and show your support at

Sincerest thanks from all of us at The Arc Minnesota to Roberta Opheim, Colleen Wieck, our very own Board member Nancy Fitzsimons, and everyone who contributed their time, talent, expertise, and resources in the development of this monumental campaign. Abuse truly does stop with us, and it’s time to “treat people like people”!

New Project to Support Sexual Violence Survivors with Disabilities in Minnesota

Not only must we work to prevent sexual violence through legislative advocacy and social/systems change as highlighted above, but we must also better respond to and support individuals with disabilities if they do experience sexual violence. That’s why we’re excited about a new initiative from the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Victimization & Safety - “Increasing Survivors with Disabilities’ Access to Healing Services and Justice Options Learning Community”.

In their recent “End Abuse of People with Disabilities" newsletter, Program Associate Ashley Brompton outlined the new initiative:

“As part of this new, 9-month pilot project, two victim advocacy agencies were chosen to explore the intersection of disability and sexual assault with community partners, including disability agencies, with customized and comprehensive technical assistance from the Center on Victimization and Safety."

Support Within Reach, based in Bemidji, Minnesota, and the Iowa Coalition for Collective Change in West Des Moines, Iowa, were selected to work closely with the Center on Victimization on change efforts including increased collaboration, capacity building, and sustainability of work at the intersection of disability and sexual assault. These two organizations and their community partners are going to be at the forefront of ensuring that practices are safe, accessible, and culturally responsive to meet the needs of all survivors in their communities.”

Our team at The Arc Minnesota is hopeful that this new initiative will result in more robust, trauma-informed support for victim survivors of sexual violence who have disabilities.

Updates from Washington, D.C.
From our friends at the Association of University Centers on Disability:

Budget & Appropriations: President Signs Short-Term Funding Bill

On November 21, President Trump signed H.R.3055, a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government through December 20. The additional four weeks of funding will allow lawmakers to negotiate over the line item amounts and a few controversial funding line items, such as President Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico. The measure will provide level funding for most programs at FY 2019 levels; extends several programs; and provides additional funds for the Census and a few health and nutrition programs.

Mark Your Calendars
Webinar Announcements

Collaborating for employment - DHS and DEED Partnership

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Join representatives from the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for an overview of upcoming efforts to align their employment services. They are looking to connect with individuals with disabilities who access employment supports through Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), as well as their family members. More information about the webinar can be found here:

Importance of Post-Secondary College Transitional Programs for Students With Intellectual Disabilities

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

2:00pm EST

In this webinar, you will learn about the college programs currently available across the country for students with I/DD, how they are developed and funded, and how you can learn more about the options. These programs not only offer a pathway towards meaningful, fulfilling work, but they also assist in skill building so students with I/DD have the confidence to be independent adults! Registration can be found here:

Noteworthy News & Resources

From The Arc U.S.

“Advocacy Groups File U.S. Supreme Court Brief Warning That School Vouchers Harm Students with Disabilities”

“Feds Unleash $130 Million For Disability Housing”

From MPR:

“Walz highlights home care by pitching in”

“Rep. Zerwas resigning seat to refocus career after heart surgery”

“Lawmakers support public works bill, but how big will it be?”

“DHS: ‘Soft’ controls led to overpayments”

“Why student loan borrowers with disabilities aren’t getting the help they deserve”

“Nearly 700,000 SNAP recipients could lose benefits under new Trump rule”

From Star Tribune:

“Minnesota has $1.3 billion estimated budget surplus”

“Human services commissioner fills several top posts at embattled Minnesota agency”

From Session Daily

“Special elections set for Feb. 4 to fill two House seats”

Thank you to our sponsor accra for their support of our public policy work

Join The Arc’s Disability Policy Networking Group to stay engaged on policy issues by requesting membership here. 

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The Arc Minnesota

2446 University Ave. W. Suite 110, St. Paul
Minnesota 55114-1740 United States

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