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Reaching Out Together

Paraprofessional Training Project

The Reaching Out Together Project (ROT) began in July 2000, funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council, with the mission of recruiting and training individuals as paraprofessional Home and Community Based Services Waiver providers in order to assist in alleviating the shortage in quality service providers. The project focused on Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando Counties.

The Reaching Out Together Project consisted of three components. Level 1 was a three-hour training session addressing awareness of the Developmental Services/Home and Community Based Services Waiver, individuals with disabilities, and family visions and perspectives. This training was offered to community college students through the Human Services Programs at Pasco/Hernando Community College, Hillsborough Community College, and St. Petersburg Junior College. In addition, parents of individuals with disabilities, and students from Irwin Technical Center were also offered Level 1 training. Over the course of a year, 173 individuals participated.

Level 2 was offered to participants who completed Level 1 and were interested in becoming a waiver provider. Level 2 training addressed how to provide supports and services for individuals with disabilities and included topics such as, an historical and evolutional perspective of services and supports for individuals with disabilities, person-centered planning, positive behavior supports, teamwork, and waiver specific information including core and service specific assurances, billing, and management plans.
This training also included a panel discussion, which afforded participants the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of existing service providers, support coordinators, and individuals receiving supports through the waiver. A total of 163 individuals were trained through Level 2.
The final component of the project provided individual application assistance for participants.

101 individuals were assisted through the application process with 14 having already become providers.
The ROT staff was extremely pleased to be able to train over 100 Hispanic individuals, with the help of CARD Information Specialist Cristina Munoz, who is bilingual.