The Arc California Applauds Restoration of Respite Services

As a result of advocacy by The Arc California, the elimination of the cap on respite services will take effect January 1, 2018. The cap of 21 days of out-of-home respite care per year or 90 hours of in-home respite care per quarter was put in place in 2009 to help address the budget deficit during the great recession. A measure eliminating the cap was included in the budget bill approved by Governor Jerry Brown. The restoration of respite services will likely help reduce racial disparities in the purchase of services by regional centers because data indicates that families of color tend to utilize respite services at higher rates.

The Arc California Advocates for Lifting Cap on Respite Services

The Arc California is advocating for lifting the cap on respite services. The caps of 90 hours of in-home respite over three months and 21 days of out-of-home respite per fiscal year were imposed in 2009 during the economic downturn and were intended to be temporary. This proposal was included in the budget approved by California’s Assembly and Senate and awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

The Arc California Advocates to End Racial Disparities in the Allocation of Regional Center Services

In light of a series of articles in the Los Angeles Times in 2011 demonstrating significant disparities in the resources and services accessed by families of color with children with I/DD through the state’s regional centers, The Arc California is supporting Assembly Bill 959 which requires regional centers to create a standardized list of provider services in order to empower consumers by knowing what services are offered and allowing them to advocate for themselves. In 2012, the newspaper reported that white families received approximately $16,000 in services through regional centers, while African-American and Latino families received approximately $12,000 and $7,000 in services respectively. A report from the Assembly Human Services Committee showed that the disparities have not decreased in recent years. Placing the information regarding service providers  in a prominent location and in plain language that is understandable will enable parents to become more informed and engaged before Individual Program Plan meetings. The bill will also ensure that the consumer is not denied access to certain providers based on their geographic location. For example, if a family moves and seeks to remain with their current service provider who is outside the catchment area of their new regional center, they should be able to retain the same service provider to ensure continued quality care. AB 959 passed the Assembly Human Services Committee and is headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The Arc Colorado Advocates on Several Bills

The Arc Colorado is having a busy legislative session, supporting twenty-nine bills and opposing five. Highlights include:

  • The chapter successfully advocated for the defeat of HB 17-1013, which would have prohibited any state action that burdens a person’s exercise of religion unless it was the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. The bill stated that “exercise of religion” did not include “the ability to act or refuse to act based on race or ethnicity,” but did not include a similar exception for discrimination based on disability or any other protected status.
  • The chapter supported HB 17-1001, which would have extended a 2009 law allowing family leave to attend a child’s academic activities but was defeated in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee after passing in the House;
  • The chapter supported HB 17-1038, which would have prohibited corporal punishment in public schools, licensed child care centers, family child care homes, and specialized youth group facilities, but was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee after passing in the House;
  • The chapter supported HB 17-1046, which eliminates derogatory terms such as “mental retardation” and “mental deficiency” from state law and replaces them with “persons with an intellectual and developmental disability” and “persons with a mental illness.” This bill was recently signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper; and
  • The chapter supported SB 17-024, which clarifies that the hearsay exception for persons with I/DD applies when an individual is being charged under increased penalties for crimes against certain persons with disabilities. This bill passed the Senate Unanimously.

The Arc Maryland Continues Robust Advocacy

As a result of The Arc Maryland’s advocacy, several bills are moving forward:

  • SB 872/HB 971, the James W. Hubbard Inclusive Higher Education Grant Program, passed in both the full Senate and the House Ways and Means Committee;
  • HB 1061, which creates a task force to study emergency and evacuation plans for students, staff, and visitors with disabilities in public schools, passed in the House Ways and Means Committee;
  • HB 1/SB 230, The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, which provides paid family leave, passed the House; and
  • SB 1013, which allows the licensure of dental therapists, had a hearing in the Senate Education Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

The Arc of Maryland Testifies on Multiple Bills

The Arc Maryland is busy this legislative session with testimony provided or planned on 36 bills.  They are supporting twenty-five, supporting six with amendments, opposing four, and monitoring one.  In the week of February 6, they testified in favor of HB 1, the Maryland Healthy Families Act, which requires employers of more than 15 employees to provide paid sick leave; SB 180, the Independent Living Tax Credit Act, which provides a tax credit for improving home accessibility; HB 197, Peyton’s Bill, which provides grants to public schools for technology that allows students who couldn’t otherwise attend school to attend remotely; HB 174, which gives parents the right to give or withhold consent on certain IEP decisions and requires the schools to file for due process if they disagree; and SJR2, which rescinds Maryland’s application for a Convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution pursuant to Article V.

The Arc of New Jersey Hosts Family Caregiver Event at State House

In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, The Arc of New Jersey brought family caregivers to the State House to discuss their challenges and priorities, such as the DSP workforce crisis.  In total, they met with over 40 legislators.  Assemblyman Gordon Johnson presented families with a joint Senate/Assembly resolution recognizing National Family Caregivers Awareness Month.  To see more pictures from the annual Family Caregiver event, click here.

The Arc of Tennessee Secures Passage of Aging Caregiver Bill

The Arc of Tennessee helped to secure the passage of SB2003/HB2014, the “Aging Caregiver Bill.” This bill allows individuals with I/DD on the waiting list for Home and Community Based Services to be enrolled into waiver services when their primary caregiver reaches the age of 75. Prior to this bill, the individual was not eligible for waiver services until the caregiver reached the age of 80.

The Arc of Massachusetts Successfully Advocates for Increase in Family Support Funding

The Arc of Massachusetts helped secure a significant increase in funding for the Department of Developmental Services’ Family Support line item via its Supporting Families Campaign. The Arc of Massachusetts initiated this campaign with six other disability advocacy organizations in the state in order to advocate for more meaningful supports for families and call attention to the issues facing aging caregivers.