The decision by Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary Marylou Sudders to right-size the Department of Developmental Services’ Turning 22 budget is a major policy change. The Arc has been advocating for it since the 2009 recession. The Turning 22 program funds people who have an intellectual or other disability and require adult services. Without this funding, persons and families often face tough choices: a parent may have to leave his/her job, a young adult may be stuck at home in a potentially unsafe and isolating situation, and other undesirable outcomes. The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which was released yesterday, fully funds this line item with $24 million, while addressing ongoing needs for this year’s graduates.
Since 2010, the number of students turning 22 has increased by 53% to nearly 1,000 per year; the funding formula, however, has not been updated since the early 2000s. While the differing needs of students with autism and other disabilities still needs to be addressed, this decision should be applauded.
The Arc thanks the administration and will strongly advocate for this budget during the legislative session and encourage legislators to embrace it. It is a policy change that both branches can be proud of, especially as we move through an uncertain future on the federal level. We will have more on the budget in the coming day, including the health care market reform package. The administration hopes will address the growth in Medicaid enrollment, which is projected to reach two million members by June 2018. Our budget chart will be posted on our website.