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Project Spotlight: Montana Family Home Visiting Program Needs Assessment

children looking out a window

The Rural Institute was recently awarded a one-year state contract to assess the Montana Healthy Families (MHF) Home Visiting Program which supports voluntary home visiting services for at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children.

The MHF Home Visiting Program builds on decades of research showing that home visits by a nurse, social worker, early childhood educator, or other trained professional during pregnancy and in the first years of a child's life improve the lives of children and families by:

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Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the ABLE Act: Legislation that Gives People with Disabilities the Ability to Save Money

Jar full of coins

On December 19th, Montanans will join the 5th anniversary celebrations of the U.S. ABLE Act. The Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act recognizes the late Mr. Beck, who paved the way for a better life for his daughter, Natalie, and for individuals like Natalie, by empowering millions of eligible Americans to save money for their future. The ABLE Act established a tax-advantaged program for qualified individuals and their families to save money for disability-related expenses.

After the passage of the ABLE Act, Montana established its ABLE program during the next state legislative session. Senators Fred Thomas, Mary Caferro, and Cynthia Wolken co-sponsored SB 399; it passed the Montana Senate 49-1, the House 100-0, and was signed by Governor Bullock on May 5, 2015. Today, nearly 300 people living with disabilities have Montana ABLE accounts.

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The Least Restrictive Approaches to Supporting Individuals as Decision Makers

fact sheet thumbnailThe Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities is pleased to share a fact sheet on alternative approaches to guardianship.

The Rural Institute has worked on issues surrounding guardianship for many years. In the late 2000s, Rural Institute staff members Marsha Katz and Ellen Condon, and Theresa Baldry, who was working for PLUK (Parents, Let’s Unite for Kids) at the time, collaborated with various community partners and created tools and resources focused on alternatives to guardianship.

Ms. Baldry, who now works at the Rural Institute as a Project Coordinator for Transition and Employment Projects and the Montana Deaf-Blind project, stated:

Read more about RIIC Fact Sheet

2019 Community Investment Fund Recipient

In 2015, the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) established the Community Investment Fund (CIF). CIF awards support innovative projects or programs that help Montanans with disabilities live, learn, work and play alongside people without disabilities. Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) members use their leadership and advocacy skills to review each application, evaluate the merits of each proposal, and award the funds.

mILpThe 2019 CIF award goes to the Montana Independent Living Project (mILp) for their Feel Great and Recreate – All-Ability Adaptive Ice Skating project. The all-ages program will offer people in the Helena area adaptive, inclusive, cross-disability programming. This is especially important during the winter months, when it can be difficult for people with disabilities to recreate with others in their community.

mILp’s goal is for individuals with and without disabilities to have fun ice skating. According to their CIF application:

“This could include a public skate, a birthday party, a recreational hockey program, or a competitive sled-hockey team. We are also targeting parents and family members of children with disabilities looking for a fun family adventure. We envision a family with a child who is unable to stand and skate to be able to join their family on the ice instead of having to watch from the sideline. The purpose is to give people with a disability an opportunity to get out of their homes and join their neighbors in an inclusive environment as they build confidence, develop new skills, learn to work as a team, exercise and socialize.”

The Rural Institute and CAC thank all 2019 CIF applicants, and send congratulations to the 2019 recipient!

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