Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, testified in favor of H.116/S.42 at a hearing before the General Court’s Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. The bill provides student loan forgiveness to graduates who work in the human services field, including DSPs. During her testimony, she stated: “Direct care workers are the glue that holds this community together and we are in crisis due to a shortage.”
The Arc New Jersey supported and Governor Chris Christie signed Charlie’s Law (A4081/S2662). The law is named after Charlie, the service dog belonging to Ben Shore, a 16-year-old New Jerseyan with autism. He was denied access to a Florida airport because of his service dog. Because refusal of service based on use of a service dog is a criminal offense in Florida, police were able to help him resolve the situation. By contrast, the only recourse in New Jersey was a civil lawsuit. Under Charlie’s law, businesses that deny access to service dog users face a $250 fine for their first violation, $500 for a second violation, and $1000 for the third and succeeding violations.
Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, testified in favor of Nicky’s Law (S.64/H.80) at a hearing of the General Court’s Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. The bill creates a registry of individuals against whom there is a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a person with I/DD by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and requires provider agencies to check the registry before hiring a new employee. During her testimony, she stated: “As I sit here today, I think about my oldest son, Neil, who is making a transition next week into 24/7 services, where I will not be able to supervise who is with him day to day and every night. I just don’t have words strong enough to describe the importance of keeping my non-verbal, loving and vulnerable son and all of our sons and daughters safe. We must pass this overdue legislation now and implement it immediately.”
Chad Sinanian, a self-advocate and member of the Board of Directors of The Arc Connecticut penned a letter to the editor in the News-Times discussing the harm caused to people with I/DD by the failure of the Connecticut General Assembly and Governor to pass a budget. He discussed the impact of the resulting cuts on people with disabilities who have lost services and are stuck at home. Additionally, he discussed a rally at which 300 people with I/DD and family members “staged a protest and send a strong clear message to the governor and Legislature that we will not allow people with disabilities to lose their program and services.”
The Baltimore Sun published an editorial discussing the sale of the Rosewood Center, a former state institution, to Stevenson University for $1 along with an agreement to pay $16 million to help cover the costs of cleaning up environmental contamination. The Arc Maryland has sought commitments from Stevenson University to provide scholarships for student with I/DD in conjunction with a new state program, adopt a curriculum to train graduates to work in the I/DD field, and provide employment opportunities for people with I/DD. The editorial states “The developmentally disabled community has waited far too long already for the kinds of opportunities the Arc is proposing.”
The Arc New Jersey supported and Governor Chris Christie signed A3386/S2711. The bill provides for more sharing of information regarding abuse and neglect between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Additionally, it mandates that DCF conduct a child abuse registry check on every individual seeking employment at DCF, in facilities or programs licensed, contracted, regulated, or funded by DCF or DHS, or seeking to provide community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities.
The Arc of New Jersey has worked closely with a group of families, over the past number of years, on the Komninos’ Law. The legislation aims to protect individuals with I/DD from abuse and neglect. The original version included a number of troubling provisions that The Arc of New Jersey felt would be very costly and duplicative without improving the service delivery system for people with I/DD. We worked closely with sponsors of the legislation and the Governor’s Office to improve the language of the bill and we were glad to see Governor Chris Christie’s recent conditional veto addressed many of our areas of concern. At the end of July, the Assembly voted to approve the Komninos’ Law with the Governor’s recommended changes and the bill now awaits action by the Senate.
The New Jersey Self-Advocacy Project (NJSAP), a self-advocacy group affiliated with The Arc New Jersey, recently held events to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and National Disability Voter Registration week. To honor the anniversary of the passage of the ADA, members gathered at a contact booth at the Point Pleasant Beach Boardwalk to spread public awareness. On July 18, they joined REV UP NJ at the State House for National Disability Voter Registration Week to raise awareness of the voting rights of people with disabilities. In addition, NJSAP has recently developed a podcast called “In Their Own Words” focused on transportation issues. More than 120 self-advocates were interviewed about the barriers they have faced in accessing public transportation.
The Arc California and six other disability and aging organizations wrote a letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra requesting that three items dealing with abuse of adults who are elderly or have disabilities be included in the 2018-2019 budget. The items were:
- Revival of the California Department of Justice’s “Face It, It’s a Crime” advertisement campaign that encouraged reporting of abuse of adults who are elderly or have disabilities. Reporting dropped significantly when the program stopped.
- Revision of the Department’s literature to note that crimes motivated by bias against disabilities are hate crimes.
- Revision of the Department’s literature to clarify that the term “dependent adult” includesmany adults with disabilities who live independently.
The Arc Connecticut is advocating for funding for its services in the face of a lapse in Medicaid funding that threatens the services they provide and the constituents they serve. Shannon Jacovino, Director of Advocacy for The Arc Connecticut, was quoted in an article in the Hartford Courant discussing the average cost of serving people with I/DD in Connecticut. Kate Haaland, a parent advocate with The Arc Connecticut and her son Chris create a video explaining how important Medicaid is for him. Chris states: “I can have an amazing life……just like you. But only if Medicaid exists.” The chapter also held a rally at the state capitol that drew 300 people.