As a result of advocacy by The Arc Pennsylvania, HB 218, the state budget, which offered the highest level of support for people with disabilities in recent years, passed both houses of the legislature and became law. The budget includes:
- 1000 slots for a new Community Living Waiver capped at $70,000 per person per year;
- 820 Person/Family Directed Supports Waiver slots for special education graduates with ID and/or autism;
- 50 new Adult Autism Waiver slots; and
- Expansion of the Targeted Services Management State Plan to include more than 1,500 people with autism and/or ID on the waiting list.
Leo Sarkissian, Executive Director of The Arc Massachusetts, testified before the Joint Committee on Ways and Means in favor of Governor Charlie Baker’s Proposed adjustment in Turning 22 formula. The Turning 22 program addresses the transportation, day/employment, and residential needs of individuals with I/DD who turn 22 and exit the school system. The formula adjustment is necessary because the number of graduates has increased from nearly 500 in the 1990s to nearly 1000. During his testimony, Sarkissian said: “It acknowledges that if funding is not approved, a high percentage of the graduating students will end up in a less desirable situation, either at home or in the MassHealth day habilitation program where employment will not be an option…”
As a result of The Arc Massachusetts’ advocacy, Governor Charlie Baker’s supplemental budget includes funding for the “Turning 22” program that provides services for adults with I/DD who turn 22 and therefore are no longer eligible for services through their school districts. This program is a high priority for The Arc Massachusetts. Additionally, the chapter is seeking supplemental funding for adult foster/family care cut relief, day and employment services, services for adults with autism, Operation House Call, and dental health services.
The Arc of Pennsylvania issued a press release commending Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed improvements to I/DD services in the 2017-2018 budget, including $26.2 million in waiting list funding to ensure that over 800 high school graduates receive supports to transition to life in the community and meaningful employment. The budget will also provide funds to serve 1,000 individuals currently on the waiting list for emergency services through a new Community Living waiver option. Executive Director Maureen Cronin stated: “This is the type of investment Pennsylvania needs to ensure our disability service system supports individuals and families while using taxpayer dollars efficiently. Investing in services for young adults after they graduate means they will have a better chance at securing employment, creating a community network, and building skills instead of needing higher cost services later…This is the most forward thinking budget for people with disabilities in at least a decade, and it is clear the Governor heard the concerns of people with disabilities, families, and advocates.”
The Arc Wisconsin’s Executive Director, Lisa Pugh, talked about Medicaid block grants, ending the wait list for children with disabilities, and two employment proposals for youth with disabilities in the state budget on WKOW’s Capitol City Sunday. The interview can be viewed here.
The Arc of Massachusetts applauds the decision of Governor Charlie Baker to fully fund the Department of Developmental Services’ “Turning 22” program. The chapter has been advocating for this since 2009. The “Turning 22” program funds people with I/DD who require adult services. Without this funding, people face tough choices: a parent may have to leave his/her job, a young adult may be stuck at home in a potentially unsafe and isolating situation, and other undesirable outcomes. Since 2010, the number of students turning 22 in Massachusetts has increased by 53% to nearly 1,000 per year; the funding formula, however, has not been updated since the early 2000s. While the differing needs of students with I/DD still needs to be addressed, the chapter applauds this decision, thanks the administration, and will strongly advocate for this budget during the legislative session.