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Our theme for testimony at the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) DDDS budget hearing is “Times Up!”

The last time I/DD services were fully funded was 2005, when the General Assembly passed an appropriation for $6 million. We can’t wait any longer for HB 104 to be passed and for the JFC to fund the bill – they need to appropriate $19.7 million over two years to fully fund these services.

The A-Team/FSU meeting at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, February 13th is going to help us get organized to make our case at the Joint Finance Committee hearing on February 22nd. Our speakers will be Thomas Cook and Verna Hensley. They will discuss the governor’s recommended budget and the need to redirect some of its spending to fund HB 104, as well as tips for testimony and meetings with legislators.

The agenda for the hearing is as follows:

10:00 AM – Orientation
11:00 AM – Developmental Disabilities Services
12:30 PM – Public Speakers – Developmental Disabilities Services

A-Team t-shirts (like those seen in The News Journal photo above) will be distributed to everyone who is planning to attend the hearing, even if you don’t plan to testify.

If you are planning to go to the hearing, we are also asking that you bring a photo of your loved one to the meeting so that we can make buttons for you to wear (see the instructions on what size photo to bring here). The buttons will be attached to ribbons that read “Support HB 104” and will be given out at Legislative Hall on the 22nd.

We are urging everyone who can travel to Dover for the hearing on February 22nd to wear the shirt and a button with your loved ones photo on it to send a message to everyone at Legislative Hall that “times up!”

We look forward to seeing you on February 13th!

IMPORTANT UPDATE: FSU voted unanimously to proceed with rebranding FSU as “A-Team Delaware.” This rebrand will include efforts to make it easier for members throughout the state to participate.

A-Team’s mission is to unite persons with diverse abilities and family members to:

  • Advocate in a grassroots effort
  • Create Awareness in the community
  • Advise others to ensure all service choices and opportunities

You can print and complete this form and bring it to our next meeting (details below) or pick one up at the meeting to complete. If you are interested in participating as a member of the A-Team Steering Committee, please write “Steering Committee” on the last line (“Other topics”).

Don’t forget:



In July 2015, 35 members of Families Speaking Up (including persons with IDD, parents, siblings and friends) attended the ADA 25th Anniversary celebration in Dover anticipating the opportunity to publically celebrate this important event with others in the disability community. As you are likely aware by now, this was not what transpired. The events of the day were chronicled in the News Journal (July 19, 2015), and many of you voiced your feelings with follow-up letters-to-the-editor in the News Journal.
Concerned about the events of the day, Lanny and Micki Edelsohn filed a complaint with the Delaware Attorney General’s office of Civil Rights and Public Trust. We are pleased to report that as a result of the efforts of Deputy Attorney General Allison Reardon and her staff at the Civil Rights division, we have received the following letter of apology from Ms. Pat Maichle, Senior Administrator of the Delaware Disabilities Council:

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With a disability population as diverse as the general population, FSU holds firm to the tenet that all voices should be heard. We would like to publicly accept Ms. Maichle’s apology and thank her for her commitment to open and direct communication. We are delighted that she will be joining us at our October 17, 2016 FSU meeting at Easter Seals (map) to hold an honest and respectful discussion that will help lay a foundation for future collaboration on important issues facing the disabilities population.


Remembering our friend, Charlie Cawley.

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Hello everyone,

The entire disability community mourns the passing of our dear friend and advocate, Charles M. Cawley, former CEO of MBNA Bank.

Under his leadership, Support Services at MBNA was born, providing meaningful, challenging and stimulating full time jobs with benefits for 330 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition, he was a major supporter of Homes For Life Foundation contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars during its infancy and giving credibility in the Delaware community to Homes For Life’s efforts to provide safe and comfortable homes for those with IDD. Without Charlie’s support there would be no Homes For Life or its offspring Families Speaking UP.

Charlie’s kind and generous spirit will live on in our hearts. We ask that everyone keep Charlie’s wife, Julie, and his loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.

-Micki and Lanny



Our Mission:

Families Speaking Up is a non-partisan, grass roots group of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), their families, friends, and caregivers.  We work to ensure that all voices are heard in the IDD debate.  We share our knowledge and experiences, advocate for and include our loved ones with IDD in decision-making, serve as a unifying voice, and educate ourselves and policymakers.  There is strength in numbers and our many strong voices must be heard.

Our Vision:

Through family support, networking, social media, word of mouth, and with the power of our numbers, we will seek to advocate for and influence Federal and State policy for all persons with IDD.

We believe that:

  • Federal legislation and guidelines have allowed our adult children to benefit from well run state and local housing and employment programs.
  • Changes in guidelines and trends may impact both the funding and implementation of laws that until now have benefited our adult children.
  • Programs that are at risk of being eliminated are those that serve individuals with the most severe disabilities who are the least able to speak up for themselves.
  • Persons with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (IDD) should have the option to choose housing and employment programs that ensure the least restrictive and individually appropriate settings.
  • By eliminating options and choice we will see a “one size fits all” service system.  Such a system will not meet the individual needs of our adult children.

We know that:

  • There are people with IDD and their families who share our beliefs and concerns. These people not only have the right be heard, they need to be heard!
  • Poorly managed housing and employment programs should not be allowed to continue to operate.
  • If we work together and are able to raise and communicate the concerns and needs of all persons with IDD, our collective voice will have a greater impact.
  • Together we must work with our federal, state and local governments and policymakers to improve existing programs while exploring new opportunities for all persons with IDD.

We hope that:

  • You will join with us to advocate for all persons with IDD especially those who cannot advocate on their own behalf
  • You will use this website as a tool to tell your stories and voice your opinion on what works well and what needs improvement.
  • You will visit this site often to learn or share news and information.
  • You will contact your state and local government officials and legislative representatives to let them know what your family member wants and needs.
  • We can join together to make sure all are heard and all options remain on the table.

Just as one size cannot fit all, one perspective cannot know all, one voice does not tell all!

Please Get Involved today.

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