Special Session is not yet over and even those items that have made it through the Legislature must now wait on the Governor to make a decision.
Thus far the developmental disabilities community could stand to gain a great deal of ground on the waitlist issue. The House and the Senate will send language to Governor Scott to approve $40 million to add individuals to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities Home and Community Based Waiver. Thank you to the legislature for recognizing this pressing need in Florida.
The desperate need for a rate increase in order to pay front line staff and others at minimum wage and higher has not yet been addressed. Waiver Support Coordinators have a rate increase in both the House and Senate and their rate increase will now be up to Governor Scott. However, those individuals in direct day to day service to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities still have rates paid to them beginning at $6.72 per hour and at that rate of pay they also have to use their own vehicles and purchase their own fuel. The service system is flirting with disaster next year as several large corporations will raise their starting wages to $10.00 per hour and for that wage, nobody’s life will be in their hands. We are hoping that we can avoid this crisis with action from our legislators.
Housing funds for the intellectual and developmental disabilities, I/DD, community has a positive outlook. Another $10 million is in the budget for housing development for I/DD. There is also a continued requirement for a set aside for SAIL developments as well as a requirement that local SHIP funds have I/DD as a priority for funding.
The legislature is once again sending Governor Scott a $2 million request to continue The Arc of Florida dental funds. These funds will provide about 6 months of dental services if they are approved by the Governor. The Arc dental program has approximately 600 individuals waiting for dental services. Thank you to the legislature for recognizing the need and acting to end the pain and suffering of many individuals.
We are still hopeful that the legislature will recognize the importance of the Adults with Disabilities funding in the Vocational Rehabilitation budget. So far only the House has continued funding for this program that serves many waitlist families and for some is the only support service they receive. We continue to try to restore funding for this program.