Advocacy can mean many things both in regard to what and the how. The what for us is—working toward policies, funding, laws, regulations and other types of outcomes which advance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families (see our mission here ). On a simple level, the “how” means encouraging, pleading, urging, and providing justification. But it gets more complex when you apply the “how” to “where”. There is the administration of the state or federal government, the legislature, the courts, school committees, etc.
The advancements of our present age didn’t come easily and require vigilance and yes, advocacy. Further advocacy for our cause requires people –anyone who cares about disabilities and wishes to build a good life in the community. Services cost dollars, rights require laws and regulations and understanding takes public education. Much has been done, but there continues to be work to do. The Advocacy pages share areas in which we are most involved and tools. Our priorities evolve over time. This page provides an index of the section and government affairs headlines.
As reported, House Ways and Means delivered an excellent budget for our community. We thank Chair of Ways and Means Aaron Michlewitz and members. We also thank Vice Chair Denise Galick and Asst. Vice Chair Liz Malia, supportive House members, along with Speaker Bob DeLeo for his guidance.
The Arc does support three amendments for House debate which focus no access and inclusion: Day/Employment, Autism Omnibus (adults with DD), and Adult foster or family care. You can phone your representative (house members only) to ask for their support during house debate and for democrats to raise the amendments during caucus. Remember to thank them too even if you already have for the Ways and Means Blueprint!
- Representative Gerry Cassidy filed amendment #941 for DDS day/employment (line item 5920-2025) by striking out the figures “$236,263,699” and inserting in place thereof the figures “$239,513,699”. The additional $3.25 million will address the changing needs of the population, as well as staff ratios.
- Representative Michael Day filed amendment #936 for DDS Autism Omnibus (line item 5920-3020 by striking out the figures “$27,452,968” and inserting in place thereof the figures “$30,752,968”)This 3.3 million will serve 100’s waiting for supports to avoid isolation and unemployment
- Representative Farley-Bouvier filed Amendment #651, which is termed, “Ensuring the Sustainability of the Adult Foster Care Program.” AFC funding for provider implementation of the program (staffing, meeting regulatory responsibilities, training, etc.) was reduced by 10% in 2017 by MassHealth. The legislature responded by restoring 20% of this reduction. In the meantime, caseloads have increased an average of 25%. This amendment will require a plan to address program sustainability.
There was significant movement on The Arc’s budget priorities in the House Ways and Means blueprint thanks to Chairman Aaron Michlewitz and House Ways and Means Committee members. We wish to recognize Vice Chair Denise Garlick and Assistant Vice Chair Liz Malia. Thank you to House members who shared their priorities with the Committee and leadership.
The Arc celebrates and thanks the Chair of House Ways and Means Aaron Michlewitz for the Ways and Means Budget, which further invests in the Department of Developmental Services.
The budget increases the Family Support and Respite line item on top of the Governor’s proposed budget by $3.5 million.
It also maintains the Governor’s Turning 22 allocation and the $4 million increase in the DESE line item.
Additional increases include Community Day and Employment ($3.4 million), Transportation ($750,000) and Autism Omnibus, adults with autism ($2.5 million). The Governor’s increase in Community Residential was also maintained.
The Arc is grateful for the work of Vice Chair Denise Garlick, Assistant Vice Chair Liz Malia, and the entire House Ways and Means committee. These significant investments will enhance supports for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, served by DDS.
The official FY 2020 Budget Ask and Narrative has been released, including explanations of each line item and what increases or maintenance of these funds would entail.