Thank you to Governor Baker, Secretary Sudders, and DDS Commissioner Ryder for a strong show of support for our community. Though we will advocate for more resources, we appreciate this budget for our constituents, especially considering the pandemic’s financial impact.
The Baker-Polito Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget provides a 6% increase for the Department of Developmental Services, despite the EOHHS Secretariat having to address an overall 3% reduction. This increase is primarily driven by rate increases for residential services or Adult Long-Term Residential (ALTR-adult long-term residential services) and Turning 22 for 2021 and 2022 graduates of schools. See our chart and the Governor’s chart for more information.
The increase begins to address our direct support workforce shortage in residential services. Typically, the monies for previous year graduates are increased in residential or day/employment accounts. The funding in T22 now totals $79.9 million. This change allows students to transition into adult services that meet their individual needs.
Some areas of concern with the DDS budget include:
- Day/employment (Line item 5920-2025) – the projection reflects under-utilization due to the pandemic; however, it also means limited capacity to assist those who are home-bound; this is true for the Transportation account too (Line item 5911-2000); distance regulations have limited the number of people in day settings and vehicles at any one time. We are unable to fully estimate the shortfall in day and employment. It will partly be determined by the planning on employment/day services presently in process. We will work with ADDP and other organizations to have a request for the Ways and Means Committees and the General Court.
- Family Support – additional funding of $7 million is needed, including $3 million in state-only support for the short term, to assist those who are home-bound. Caregivers have been providing 24/7 support to individuals with disabilities now for nearly 11 months.
- Reductions in other line items, though modest, reflect less use due to the pandemic.
- DDS did receive authority to transfer monies between certain line items allowing flexibility if area offices need to redirect funding due to services changes or individual needs.
Again, bottom line: we appreciate Governor Baker’s start to the budget process and the leaders at EOHHS and DDS, Secretary Sudders and Commissioner Ryder.
As we look ahead, our advocacy should focus on those who are home-bound and who have been for almost a year. Families represent 70% of caregivers supporting individuals with disabilities. This impacts day supports and MassHealth Day habilitation. Additionally, there are other groups of caregivers providing care through MassHealth AFC and DDS Shared Living. This year rates for employment, Community Based Day Supports (CBDS) and family support are up for review. The Governor’s allocation of $79 million is appreciated and we hope that this can provide a 10% increase for these critical programs. We need to assure continued increases in the salaries of support professionals so we can address the workforce shortage over a multi-year period.
The Arc of Massachusetts FY22 Budget Analysis Chart
Charts Below from Governor’s Website