Direct care providers are the lifeline for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their family members. However, the rates paid to providers by the State of Florida remain well below the FY 2003 levels. As a result, thousands of individuals, families and providers from around the state are facing negative impacts due to what is known as the Provider Rate Crisis.
The Provider Rate Crisis creates a destructive cycle. In order to maintain an adequate life, a variety of care services are needed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Families often rely on these services in order to support their loved ones. Moreover, with rising business expenses, the need to comply with new federal labor laws and turnover rates as high as 40 percent, direct care provider companies and independent providers are struggling to stay in business. Employees are not earning an adequate living wage and are forced to seek other employment. As a result, many providers have left the statewide program, leaving individuals and families with few service options, less provider availability and, in some cases, reduced or harmful quality of care.
In an effort to reverse this cycle, the developmental disabilities community seeks to educate, empower and raise awareness of the Provider Rate Crisis. “The combination of concerns surrounding this issue poses a distinct threat to the health and safety of individuals with disabilities who are included in the community,” said Margaret Hooper, public policy coordinator of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC).
FDDC is one of the numerous statewide groups encouraging the Legislature to take action by increasing the provider rates in order to fund adequate wages, support care providers and consider the individuals and their well-being. “The provider rates must increase. With the number of available providers decreasing 35 percent since FY 2007-2008, individuals are not receiving adequate care and families are unable to support their loved ones,” explains Hooper.
The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council was established in 1971 to help plan individual and family-centered supports for persons with disabilities in Florida. The Council also guides the development and administration of services for people with developmental disabilities by planning and funding research, innovations, and programs designed to improve the quality of their lives.
To address system-wide issues affecting people with developmental disabilities, the Council engages in state and national advocacy activities in support of legislation, policies, and programs responsive to the needs of people with developmental disabilities.
The Developmental Disabilities Council is a non -profit organization that receives federal assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Developmental Disabilities.