On March 4, 2016 The Arc addressed its 2017 budget priorities at a public hearing at The Gardner Auditorium at The State House. The Ways and Means Committee Hearing was chaired by Representative Sean Garballey. Maura Sullivan, Dir. Of Gov.Affairs for The Arc called attention to the shortfalls in the line items for individuals who are “Turning 22”. Many will need a combination of supports and services including employment and transportation.
Here is a short excerpt from the testimony:
“My name is Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs at The Arc. The Arc of Massachusetts, a nonprofit organization, was established 60 years ago to enhance the lives of the nearly 200,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our state and their families. Together with our 18 regional chapters across the Commonwealth and other partners, we accomplish our mission through advocacy of supports and services based in the communities we serve. We advocate for a lifespan of services having played a leading role in the establishment of special education, transition or turning 22 legislation and many other important milestones.
We thank the chairs and committee members for their support of services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. We appreciate the FY’2016 budget and the funding of the omnibus bill, family support, employment and turning 22 among other line items last year.
We come to you to share the need for more funding…more services…more assistance. There are two major themes for the funding request today. Those “Turning 22” (Transition from school to adult life) and “Supporting families”.
Today the Department of Developmental Services or DDS has a caseload of 36,400. The number is growing and increased prevalence of autism is a factor. In 2011 there were 670 graduates in need. In the past 5-year period we have witnessed a rise of 34% not including those with developmental disabilities. This fiscal year, 901 students will enter the Turning 22 program needing a combination of employment and transportation. Some will require residential services too. Children do grow up to be adults. Some need more assistance than others so they won’t get left behind. ”