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Hundreds of Floridians concerned about funding and services for people with developmental disabilities gathered at the state Capitol today for the annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day (DD Day).
Hosted by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) and The Arc of Florida, representatives from each group presented their concerns during the event’s press conference, which included numerous speakers and was attended by hundreds of people with developmental disabilities, advocates, self-advocates legislators, policy makers and others.
Their primary message focused on the current iBudget Provide Rate Crisis, a trend that is severely impacting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and care providers throughout the state. FDDC and The Arc of Florida urged legislators to correct the iBudget Provider Rate Crisis by increasing the rates paid to care providers so they are closer to the 2003 levels as well as to make a long-term commitment to eliminate the iBudget waiver waitlist, which approximately 20,000 Floridians are currently on.
In addition, the 2017 FDDC Idelio Valdes Leadership and Advocacy Award, named in honor of the late former Council member and self-advocate, was presented to Tampa resident Sarah Goldman for her numerous community activities and personal achievements.
The Arc of Florida, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for persons with developmental disabilities. Working with local, state and national partners, The Arc of Florida advocates for local chapters, public policies and high quality supports for people with developmental and other disabilities to be fully included in all aspects of their community. Find out how to get involved by visiting www.arcflorida.org.
The mission of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) is to advocate and promote meaningful participation in all aspects of life for Floridians with developmental disabilities. To learn more about FDDC, visit www.fddc.org or call toll-free at 1-888-488-8633.
WHO: Political leaders, individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, caregivers, advocates and friends
WHAT: Press Conference for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day
WHERE: Florida Capitol Courtyard – Senate Side (if rain, second floor rotunda, Florida Capitol)
WHEN: Tuesday, March 21, 2017, at 10:30 a.m.
WHY: Provide briefing on critical legislative priorities to preserve the quality of life for Floridians with developmental disabilities
The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC), The Arc of Florida (Arc), individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, caregivers, advocates and friends will gather Tuesday, March 21, at 10:30 a.m., in the Capitol Courtyard – Senate Side (or, in case of rain, on the second floor of the Capitol) for a press conference during the 2017 Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day. FDDC and The Arc of Florida are partners in this annual event which aims to generate awareness and provide information about the importance of inclusion and funding essential services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Speakers will include advocates, self-advocates, legislators, Arc Board and FDDC Council members. Those present will ask the Florida Legislature to ensure that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families who receive the Individual Budgeting/Home and Community Based Services Waiver have stable and qualified service provider staffing for delivering waiver services by increasing provider compensation. They also will ask the Legislature to consider continuing its support of a meaningful long-term commitment to reducing the Waiver waitlist. Reporters will have the opportunity to interview Council members and individuals and providers affected by the provider rate issue.
In addition, two awards will be presented by FDDC during the press conference: the 2017 Idelio Valdes Leadership and Advocacy Award, named in honor of the late former Council member and self-advocate, will be presented to Sarah Goldman of Tampa and a special recognition of Arc and APD staff who have put together a choking prevention initiative.
The day’s activities also include:
• Exhibits: 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., second floor Capitol Rotunda
• Press Conference and speakers: 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Senate Portico
• Luncheon: 12 p.m., Senate Portico
• Advocate visits with legislators: throughout the day
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.