Launched in 2015, our Federation’s Los Angeles Jewish Abilities Center (LAJAC) is making an unbelievable impact on the lives of adults with special needs and their caregivers in Los Angeles. As part of our Federation’s commitment to inclusion, the LAJAC website has helped more than 2,300 visitors find resources and services that are enabling them to live more independently and participate fully in the Jewish community.
And, as time goes on, LAJAC is adapting and expanding to offer exciting new opportunities that serve the needs of our community — including this year’s Knowledge is Power workshop series. This six-part series gives participants the opportunity to meet with some of California’s top disability advocates and experts to learn the latest tools that will help them plan their future. Participants can pick and choose any of the workshops they’d like to attend — and, best of all, LAJAC is offering these workshops for free.
The topics covered in this series are essential education for adults with special needs and their caregivers as new laws and regulations regarding financial, legal and government benefit issues are going into effect over the next few years. The information is complex, constantly changing and difficult to find across different platforms. But LAJAC has become a pioneer in the realm, consolidating information and resources, making it easier to understand, and delivering it to the community.
“LAJAC continues to evolve to meet the needs of our community,” said Lori Klein, Senior VP of our Federation’s Caring for Jews in Need strategic initiative. “When we realized there was a lack of education about the new laws and tools being put in place to support adults with special needs, we knew we had to be proactive by creating this workshop series.”
The Knowledge is Power series kicked off with “Financial Tools for your Future” on Tuesday, January 12th. This informative session provided an in-depth overview of ABLE accounts and the Jewish Los Angeles Special Needs Pooled Trust — the brand new tools allowing adults with special needs to work and acquire some savings without losing disability benefits. Featured speakers included Annabel Blanchard, attorney at Newman Aaronson Vanaman; Stephanie Koguchi, legal intern at Bet Tzedek; Janet Morris, Directing Attorney of Bet Tzedek’s Family Caregiver Project; and Michelle K. Wolf, Executive Director of the Jewish Los Angeles Special Needs Pooled Trust.
According to LAJAC Director Michelle Resnick, “When I set out to select the speakers for this workshop series, I thought about who I’d want to help my family navigate these issues. Having these incredible speakers share their knowledge and expertise with us is a huge win for our community and I’m so excited to hear what they have to say.”
Future workshops in the series feature such topics as self-advocacy and self-determination, state entitlements, federal benefits and legal tools — and many of the speakers are household names for families with children who have special needs. Check out the complete list of workshop topics, dates and speakers.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for us to empower adults with special needs and their caregivers,” said Lori Klein. “If we give them the information and the tools they need, they can advocate for themselves and make informed decisions about their future.”
For more information about LAJAC or the Knowledge is Power workshop series, contact Michelle Resnick, Director of LAJAC, at (323) 761-8105 or MResnick@JewishLA.org.