Medicaid Waiver Expert Joins Va-LEND Faculty

December 14, 2020

Va-LEND continues to add to our skilled team of faculty. Deanna Parker, MPA, has worked in the field of public policy for over 25 years and joins the LEND faculty in the discipline of Public Health. Ms. Parker is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. She helps develop, advance, and monitor regulatory and policy issues for Virginia's Developmental Disability (DD) Medicaid Waiver programs. Ms. Parker's history with Va-LEND; however, began with participation in the Family Mentorship Experience (FME), working with LEND trainees from the family perspective. She served as a family mentor for two years, then became a LEND trainee herself, graduating from the program in 2019. "I am the parent of a young adult with a developmental disability, so I have significant lived experience with the DD population as a parent and advocate. As a state policy maker, I do not work directly with individuals in the population I serve; however, the decisions I make in my job could have a long-term impact on individuals with disabilities in the Commonwealth, in terms of an improved quality of life and the benefit received from the Medicaid Waiver program and its services," she explained.

A Medicaid Waiver can provide long-term care and medical and non-medical supports and services. By helping with activities of daily living, such supports can increase an individual's level of independence and critical access to community living. "As a disability advocate, I had an entirely different perception of the Medicaid Waiver system before I actually began working within it. Now, I have an awareness of the complexity of the system, the multitude of roles and responsibilities of the various state and local agencies, the intersectionality of different funding programs, and the checks and balances needed to successfully operate a statewide program." As a LEND trainee, Ms. Parker appreciated being part of the LEND clinic "the opportunity to directly interview a parent, observe the child, and then gather the information to make professional recommendations for the child and family is not something in which I would normally participate." Ms. Parker recommends the Va-LEND program for individuals, family members, school personnel, and especially, more medical professionals. "I look forward to assisting current and future Va-LEND students so that their participation in the program leads to development of the leadership competencies, greater awareness of family and individual perspectives, and the ability to provide accurate information to families and patients."