A local college is changing the way students with disabilities receive care on campus.
Edinboro University will no longer directly provide attendant-care services to its students. The school is now teaming up with a local service provider called “A Bridge to Independence.” Many students expressed their concern about the changes.
Edinboro’s interim president, Michael Hannan, says the university has a 40-year commitment to providing educational opportunities to students with disabilities. “While there seems to be an understanding that attendant care services are going away at Edinboro University, they really aren’t going away. What is changing is that university staff, themselves, will not be providing those direct attendant care services, but there will be providers on campus.”
The changes will officially go into effect for the following fall semester.
His full letter to the public can be found below:
Dear Students and Colleagues,
I am writing to clarify some information surrounding our recent announcement about changes to our attendant-care program that will take effect beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year.
I want to assure you that attendant-care services are not going away at Edinboro. Instead, effective at the end of the current academic year (May 2019), these personal care services, which are currently provided by University employees, will be provided by community-based, attendant-care providers, and qualifying costs will be covered by a federal waiver system. Edinboro University will not be eligible to receive these direct-care waivers and therefore will not be able to provide these services directly to those students.
Edinboro’s faculty and staff – and I personally – take pride in the services that we have been able to provide for students with disabilities for more than four decades, and our intention is to maintain our commitment and remain a leader in this area.
After extensive review and consideration, Edinboro has chosen to collaborate with A Bridge to Independence, an attendant-care coordinator, to ensure student needs are matched to available agency services. A Bridge to Independence will have staff on campus to work with individual students and to coordinate services based on each student’s unique situation both this year and in the future. Students can, of course, choose their own service-coordinating organization, but we wanted to make this service as convenient as possible for our students, their families and other caregivers.
Most colleges and universities have left it up to the students to navigate and arrange services on their own. Edinboro did not want to do that.
Students will be able to receive services in the residence halls and throughout campus. The change we are making is that the University will no longer be directly providing personal-care services.
Although outside forces are driving this change, the transition will give students greater control over their care and life circumstances while on campus and after graduation. As just one example, students will not have to live in Rose and Earp halls, which is where all of our students who receive attendant care are currently housed. Instead, students will have access to other housing options; they will have expanded access to transportation for personal enjoyment (e.g. movies, dinner out), and can carry their services between semesters, over the summer, and after graduation (a benefit not currently available).
Navigating the system of care is something that will be necessary later in life; a benefit of this change is that it will prepare students for life after graduation, enabling them to be more independent.
I fully recognize that news of this transition has created anxiety for our students who receive attendant care, as well as their friends and families. I apologize for the anxiety caused by this change. We are sharing these plans now so that there is sufficient time to have questions answered and to otherwise assist with the transition.
We will be scheduling a follow-up meeting in the very near future with students receiving attendant-care to provide additional information, and A Bridge to Independence will be scheduling individual appointments with our students to discuss their own personal circumstances. In addition, a committee of students who receive attendant-care services, as well as faculty, is being formed to facilitate input and discussion on this change.
All change is difficult, especially when it involves people who are important to us. I am committed to the University remaining a leader for opportunity and services for students with disabilities and look forward to working together with our students and other professionals in this area to continue that opportunity here at Edinboro.
Michael J. Hannan, PhD