Author: Megan Kuneli

2021 Empower! Lunch Video – The Importance of DSPs

Published December 20, 2021

Direct Support Professionals or DSPs provide the day-to-day support for the adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities served by Merrick, Inc. They’re coaches, advocates, and supervisors all at once. This is their story.

Bark’s Bytes #43 | Sameness

Published November 9, 2021

In the wee hours of 6/26/21, without following parliamentary procedures and with no public testimony, language creating a taskforce to eliminate the 14(c) special minimum wage option in Minnesota by August 2025 was included in an omnibus bill later signed by the Governor. While the how and why that happened may be a topic for a future editorial, right now 6,000 people with disabilities and their families need to understand the consequence of this legislation.

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Bark’s Bytes #42 | Being BOLD

Published September 27, 2021

In mid-March of 2020 our services were shutdown by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Department of Human Services (DHS) as part of Governor Walz’s peacetime emergency plan to mitigate the transmission of the Covid-19 virus. Despite the best efforts of families and residential providers, we quickly understood how detrimental it was to the mental, physical, and emotional health of clients to be isolated at home 24 hours a day with no end in sight. In mid-June we were permitted to begin serving a limited number of clients and felt compelled to serve as many as possible within the DHS restrictions.

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Executive Director JWB standing back to back with Santa

Bark’s Bytes #41 | You

Published February 9, 2021

It took me nearly three months and I just finished reading the “Subminimum Wages: Impacts on the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities” 2020 Statutory Enforcement Report issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CCR). Not only was it long at 349 pages and detailed with 1,320 footnotes; more than 9,700 public comments were submitted (far more than any other issue ever studied by the CCR) and is a great example of a predetermined partisan recommendation waiting for a report.

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Report to the Community 2019-20

Published January 7, 2021

We’re proud to announce that Merrick, Inc.’s Report to the Community 2019-2020 is now available for your viewing pleasure and can be downloaded by clicking here. Readers will encounter the following in this year’s Report to the Community:

  • A Message from the Executive Director
  • A Summary of Our Programs
  • Volunteer, Business Partner, and Client Spotlights;
  • Merrick By the Numbers;
  • and more.

Download 2020 Report

Newtrax Wins 2020 VHEDC Community Partnership Award

Published November 5, 2020

We’re so proud of our non-profit partner Newtrax on receiving the 2020 Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation Community Partnership Award. Way to go, Mike Greenbaum, Scott Olson, and the rest of the Newtrax team!

Check out the article “A Different Sort of Meals on Wheels” written by the White Bear Press to learn more about the amazing things happening at NewTrax.

Bark’s Bytes #40 | Fishing on Lake Covidtogoma

Published August 12, 2020

John Wayne Barker with fish at lake

“Fishing for an answer” is not an uncommon phrase here in Minnesota and is certainly one way to describe what the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation (MOHR) has been doing since mid-March, with the support of 67 Senators and a few Representatives, in getting Covid-19 guidance from the Commissioner of DHS and emergency funding from the Governor. I recently went on a fishing trip with two-day program colleagues that gave me the opportunity to put the last 5 months into some perspective.

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Blog of Merrick, Inc., Executive Director John Wayne Barker (JWB)

Bark’s Bytes #39 | Smoke & Fire

Published January 7, 2020

In late 2019, it came to my attention that Arc Minnesota was actively building a coalition of stakeholders to develop a 2020 legislative plan to phase out the commensurate wage regulation, known as 14(c), which permits a special minimum wage. After hearing strong opposition from many stakeholders this plan has been shelved for the time being. Still, there are several efforts at the federal level to eliminate the 14(c) regulation, and the Minnesota Disability Services Division (DSD) is moving forward with its plan to redesign Day Training & Habilitation (DT&H) services and impose a 36-month limit on prevocational services (with a possible 12-month extension) for anyone enrolled after 12/31/20.

It is my view that this DSD plan will eliminate the center-based work option for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) even if the 14(c) regulation is retained. To explain my reasoning I wrote a document entitled “Smoke & Fire” that is formatted in the style of a 2015 document entitled “Myths & Realities” written by the RTC on Community Living at the University of Minnesota. My hope is that a reader will better understand the issue if explained in a similar format and structure.

Both documents are attached as a pdf to this editorial and I suggest that the reader print both and read the same section of each before moving onto the next section. In this manner, the contrasting views may be clearer to the reader by the time they finish reading the documents.

At Merrick we have more than 200 clients that earned more than $750,000 last year through our 14(c) center-based work option who either can’t or don’t want to work in a competitive integrated work environment. It is my hope that others will strive to convince DHS to reconsider its DT&H redesign plan and proposed limit on prevocational services so that people with I/DD can make meaningful decisions about how to live, work, and interact with the community as promised in the Olmstead Plan.

2019 VHEDC Award Video – Merrick, Inc.

Published November 11, 2019

Merrick, Inc. was honored to be the recipient of the 2019 VHEDC Community Partnership Award, and looks forward to continuing to grow its partnerships across the Northeastern Twin Cities.

Self-Advocacy Video

Published November 8, 2019

Merrick, Inc. is licensed in the state of Minnesota to provide day programs and work options for 375 adults with disabilities. We choose to do more.

New Services Now at MerrickPositive Support Services & Individualized Home Supports

Merrick Inc., is pleased to announce two new licensed services available to current and prospective clients that can be provided in their home or in the community. These services will be provided separately, or in addition to current services, and will be scheduled at times that work best for the client and their support team:

  • Positive Support Services (Professional, Analyst, Specialist)
  • Individualized Home Supports (with training)

Clients or support teams should contact their case manager who will determine if the services are available within their waiver plan and assist them to identify which service is most appropriate. The case manager will initiate service authorization and if units are authorized, will update the Support Plan and make a referral to Merrick by contacting Brady Mallek, Positive Support Professional at bradym@merrickinc.org or (651) 789-6208.