Welcome to Team IOP


Celebrate Portage! held their fifth annual celebration dinner on Thursday, September 6th.  The event honors citizens and organizations throughout Portage County for their dedication to improving our communities.  Independence of Portage of County was nominated for two separate awards, the Community Hero Award and the Community Service Initiative Award.  We were honored to win the Community Hero Award; an award that is intended to recognize those who through their courage, strength and self-sacrifice improve the lives of others living in the community.  This honor is a testament to the amazing work performed by our Direct Support Professionals (DSP) on a daily basis, and a reflection of their commitment to each and every one of the individuals for whom they provide care.  In addition to a beautiful glass sculpture, which can be found proudly on display in the main office, we also received a proclamation from the State of Ohio for the positive difference we have made in our community.

Thank you and congratulations to all of our hard-working DSPs; you are the heroes and the heart of Independence!  The following DSPs were in attendance to accept the award on behalf of all of our incredible DSPs at Independence:  Emily Blankenship, Patty Daniels, Cora Denning, Joyce Hanan, Melody Havens, Zac King, Jacob Kropp, Scott Lago, Zack Madden, Mary Newman, Mindy Niehaus, Julie Wells, and Ethan Wilson.



The phone system cutover has been completed.  Here is a list of the phone extensions, speed dials and numbers.  To use a speed dial on the new system, dial # and the number, then press Send.

Click for SPC Email Instructions

Instructions for the new AccelTrax Time Reporing Software can be found here.  The software is available for use on TEAMIOP as 'Report Work New' and will replace 'REPORT WORK' soon. 

NOTE:  The old software will still be available inside the 'Report Work New' link.


Help the clients of Independence by using Amazon Smile.  It doesn't increase the cost of your Amazon purchases, but a portion of the price you pay on eligible items is donated to the Independence of Portage County Inc. Foundation.  Just use this link:  http://smile.amazon.com/ch/34-1172006 (You can bookmark it or save it to your favorites for reference every time you make a purchase.)  Thank you!




"An effort is underway across Ohio to prevent drug use among Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens – our children. Governor John R. Kasich and First Lady Karen W. Kasich have launched Start Talking! to give parents, guardians, educators and community leaders the tools to start the conversation with Ohio’s youth about the importance of living healthy, drug-free lives."

Did you know that children of parents who talk to their teens about drugs are up to 50% less likely to use?  The truth is that most teens who abuse pain relievers say they get them from family and friends.  In today's society more Americans die from drug overdoses than in car crashes.  These are just a few of the facts you can learn when you visit the new Ohio.gov "Start Talking!" website.



At the Ohio Provider Resource Associate (OPRA) Fall Conference

the Direct Support Staff at Arcadia was recognized for their exemplary committment.



There are a couple of newer TV shows with storylines involving individuals living with developmental disabilities:

Speechless on ABC Wednesdays at 8:30pm:  Maya DiMeo (Minnie Driver) is a mom on a mission who will do anything for her husband Jimmy, her kids Ray, Dylan, and JJ, her eldest son with cerebral palsy. As Maya fights injustices both real and imagined, the family works to make a new home for themselves, and searches for just the right person to give JJ his "voice."

Born This Way on A&E (full episodes available online):  Honesty, humor and heart are at the center of this original docuseries, which highlights the outgoing personalities and amazing abilities of seven young adults born with Down syndrome



The Ohio Department of Medicaid and Department of Developmental Disabilities have formally responded to the Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) lawsuit Monday, June 27, 2016. Director Martin sent out a lengthy summary. Excerpts are printed below. Should you wish to read the complete email, please let me know and it will be forwarded.  Thank you,  Anna Barrett


Our response argues that DRO cannot relitigate this case. This is not the first time DRO has tried to initiate change - not by working together, but through litigation. In a lawsuit that lasted almost 20 years, DRO agreed to the very course of action the State has implemented. In fact, Ohio has gone further and done more than what was agreed to in that consent order.

As Director, I want to assure you that my colleagues and I will not allow this lawsuit to distract us from our core mission at a time when so much progress is being made.

*The 2015 United Cerebral Palsy Report, ranks Ohio 10th in the nation for community inclusion and integration. That's outstanding, considering that less than 10 years ago, Ohio ranked 48th. This dramatic climb makes Ohio one of the most improved states in the nation.

*The DRO lawsuit is not about cooperation or compromise; it's about mandating that Ohio follow the singular vision of a small group of federally funded attorneys and the out-of-state lawyers they've chosen to argue on their behalf.

*Since 1999, the number of Ohioans served through home- and community-based waivers has increased from 5,527 to 35,191 individuals in 2015, By comparison, the number of people receiving services in Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) during this period decreased by 20% from 7,917 to 6,367.

*One year ago the Kasich Administration, with the endorsement of the Ohio Legislature, made the most significant investment in the history of the Department, almost $300 million new dollars. Most of these funds have been used to expand opportunities for Ohioans with developmental disabilities to live, work and play in their communities.

*A total of approximately 3,000 new waivers have been funded for this two-year operating budget.

*736 of the new waivers will be available to ICF residents interested in a waiver. These initiatives ensure that only those individuals who want to be admitted to or remain in an ICF will do so.

*The remaining 1,864 waivers are for individuals on waiver waiting lists.

*The Department also remains committed to ensuring direct support staff, the backbone of our service delivery system, make a competitive wage. A wage increase for the individuals that work tirelessly to care for our loved ones was part of the most recent state budget.

*While these policy choices were the Department's, they were informed by a representative group of stakeholders, who met for over a year to establish a set of benchmarks that, in turn, helped to shape the Department's budget.

While I would never argue that our system is perfect or that every need is being met, the answer is not litigation, but a continuation of the collaborative process already underway.

This progress has meant change; and change, even positive change, does not come about without anxiety. I want to express my sincere gratitude to people with developmental disabilities and their families, to providers and direct care staff, to county boards and their board members, to everyone who is a part of our system for their support and patience as we continue to move forward to make Ohio a better place for those we serve, no matter where they choose to live, work or spend their day.

John L. Martin





The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on your Federal Direct Loans, after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan, while working full-time for a qualifying employer.  If you currently have any Federal Direct Loans, and think you may qualify for this program, more information can be found on the government's website.

Check out studentaid.ed.gov "How to Repay Your Loans," "Forgiveness, Cancellation, and Discharge" and "Public Service Loan Forgiveness."

Or use the following link: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service

PSLF Employment Certification Form link also available: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf




Our best source of new employees - is our current staff!  With that fact in mind we would like to remind you of our Referral Program, with some new features.   Here are the parameters:

1) Refer a person for employment;
2) Remind them they must indicate they were referred by you;
3) When they successfully complete six months at Independence, you will receive a gift card for $100 AND
4) At the Holiday Gathering, staff having achieved the first 3 conditions will be entered into a drawing for $500!



Be sure to check out all of the programs being offered at the Ravenna Athletic Center (RAC)!

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