In this enlightening episode of IDD Health Matters, Dr. Craig Escude welcomes Ron Wakefield, the State Director for Developmental Disability Services in Georgia. Broadcasting from the NASDDDS (National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services) conference, this conversation delves into the complexities and triumphs of providing services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Role and Responsibilities: Ron Wakefield discusses his role as the State Director, emphasizing the importance of stakeholder engagement, policy development, and ensuring access to necessary services for about 14,000 individuals under two waivers in Georgia. Focus on Health and Wellness: The episode highlights Georgia’s unique approach to health and wellness for individuals with disabilities, including the establishment of a dedicated office to oversee and develop policies across the state.
Journey into the Field: Ron shares his personal journey from Jamaica to the United States, initially aspiring to work in hotel management, and how a visit to his mother working at an institution led him to a fulfilling career in supporting individuals with disabilities.
Advocacy and Employment: Ron stresses the importance of overcoming fear, creating employment opportunities, and fostering partnerships for the betterment of services for individuals with disabilities. He shares powerful stories about the impact of employment on the lives of individuals with disabilities.
Collaboration and Listening: Emphasizing the power of partnership and collaboration, Ron acknowledges the collective efforts of various stakeholders, including self-advocates, families, and providers, in advancing the field.
Conclusion: This episode offers a deep dive into the world of developmental disability services, showcasing Ron Wakefield’s passion and dedication to the field. His insights provide valuable lessons on advocacy, inclusion, and the transformative power of employment and community support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.