Board of DD, Miami partner to find gaps in resources, plan levy

Wendy Planicka, of the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities, says a community mapping project with Miami University will help the agency prepare for a levy in 2018 and improve its services to the community. STAFF FILE/2010
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Wendy Planicka, of the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities, says a community mapping project with Miami University will help the agency prepare for a levy in 2018 and improve its services to the community. STAFF FILE/2010

Tools that help plan services for the nearly 4,000 Butler County residents served by the Board of Developmental Disabilities will be updated this year as part of a partnership betweeen the board and Miami University.

The Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities (BCBDD) is partnering with Miami University to learn where there are gaps in the community resources provided to people with disabilities and to plan for a levy next year.

The original service mapping project was completed in 2015.

“We serve people with disabilities of all ages who live in all parts of the county,” said Wendy Planicka of BCBDD. “With these maps, we’ll be able to get a visual on where they live, which is key in planning services for them.”

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Students in the Advanced Geographic Information Science class at Miami University create maps on a variety of topics, including where people served by BCBDD live and the locations of grocercy stores, food pantries, police stations, religious institutions, public transportation routes, and medical facilities.

Four students worked on the project when it started in 2015, according to Robbyn Abbitt, Miami University’s GIS coordinator.

“The students mapped clients, partners, county service agencies (food pantries, health care facilities) as well as proximity to BCRTA bus routes and stops. The students also created maps of various demographics for the agency,” she said via email.

The new contract with BCBDD will employ two GIS students over the course of the spring semester, according to Abbitt.

The 2015 GIS study indicated that BCBDD’s services are concentrated heavily in certain areas of Butler County: Hamilton, West Chester Twp., Fairfield, Liberty Twp., Oxford, Trenton and Ross.

BCBDD supports people ages 3 and older with developmental disabilities with a variety of programs ranging from in home support education to skill development programs.

In addition to updating the 2015 service map, the GIS class will be providing maps of voter data from 2004, when BCBDD was last on the ballot, and voter data from 2016.

“The maps will plot where voters live, their political party affiliation, and if they voted yes or no to our levy in 2004,” Planicka said.

She said the agency will be using these maps to plan for a levy next year.

“The plan is to be on the ballot in 2018, but we do not have any further details because the board has not made any decisions yet,” Planicka said. “The voter data maps will be helpful to our political action committee, called Friends of Citizens with Disabilities, as they start to plan for a marketing strategy for the levy.”

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