Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Funding Would Provide Support Services to Additional 750 Individuals with Disabilities

 MIAMI, FL — Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott, surrounded by disability stakeholders in Miami, highlighted his Florida Families First 2013-2014 Budget, which provides $36 million in funding to people on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list. The $36 million increase will allow an additional 750 individuals with critical needs on the waiting list to enroll in the APD Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver so they will receive services in their local communities. Governor Scott made his announcement at the campus of the Association for the Development of the Exceptional (ADE) on North Miami Avenue. At the press conference, the Governor also highlighted a $2.5 million targeted investment through his budget that provides career services to individuals with disabilities that would open up job opportunities to 1,000 people.

 Governor Scott said, “I want to provide each and every Floridian with the opportunity to find a job and pursue their American dream. With this $36 million investment, this is the first time in eight years that funding support is being recommended to help individuals on the waiting list. That means we’ll help families by providing personal care assistance, transportation, adult day training, and other needed services to improve their quality life and find job opportunities.”

 Those with the most critical needs will benefit from this new funding. Currently, there are 22,000 individuals on the waiting list and 30,000 enrolled in the APD Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver.

Governor Scott’s budget proposal also includes about $2.5 million to assist people on the waiver waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work.  The funding will pay for job internships and supported employment job coaches for about 1,000 people with developmental disabilities.

 APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “We so appreciate Governor Scott’s guidance and support of our efforts to improve the agency.  We are extremely excited to be able to serve people on our waiting list and hope the legislature will also see the need.  That has been one of my priorities since coming to the agency. Now we are ready to move forward and promise to be good stewards of these additional tax dollars to benefit individuals with developmental disabilities. Employment opportunities will not only assist individuals to stay self sufficient and prevent the need for waiver services, but will also enhance their quality of life.”

 Many families attended today’s announcement including those who have someone waiting to enroll in the waiver and those who are currently receiving community services. Phil Pearson, waiting list parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida said, “We all have worked very hard to raise the waiting list issue to the point where it is receiving the attention it deserves. APD’s Director Barbara Palmer took on the waiting list personally and made it her issue. Thank you, Governor Scott and Director Palmer. What a great day for Florida’s disability community.”

 Chief Executive Officer of the Association for the Development of the Exceptional (ADE), Inc. Helena Del Monte said, “The great news shared by Governor Rick Scott to increase funding to APD, gives much long awaited hope to customers very much in need of services provided by APD and its provider agencies. This is a testament to Governor Scott’s commitment to our vulnerable population. It humbles me that he chose ADE, Inc., as the venue to make this announcement. On behalf of people with developmental disabilities in Florida and their families, I applaud him.”

 Two Miami families, who recently moved from the waiting list to the HCBS Medicaid waiver, shared their stories with the governor. New adoptive parent Melva Sonera said, “The services provided by the waiver were critical before we were able to welcome five-year-old Ezequiel to our family. The money Governor Scott is recommending will change lives and families for the better.”

 Marina Jaramillo is an aging parent in poor health with a 52-year-old son with several developmental disabilities. “I appreciate Governor Scott helping other families in Florida who find themselves in situations like mine. Knowing my son will be taken care in the future of gives me peace of mind.”

Disability Stakeholders Praise Governor’s Proposed Budget

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Jean Sherman said, “I am delighted and encouraged to learn about Governor Scott’s proposed request to provide funding for waiver services for those individuals on the APD waiting list that are in the most critical need. The ability to receive needed services will be life-changing for these families and this new funding is a welcome first step in meeting the community needs of all Florida residents with developmental disabilities.”

 Phil Pearson, waiting list parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida, said, “What a great day for Florida and what a great day for Florida’s disability community. Hats off to everyone involved! This waiting list funding will be a godsend to all of those folks waiting for services. They will now be able to rest assured that their children will be properly taken care of. Granted, this won’t fund every situation, but it is a good start, addressing the most urgent cases. Thank you, Governor Scott, for this great day in Florida’s history.”

 Janice Phillips is a service coordinator for people with developmental disabilities, and she is also the chairperson of their association. Phillips said, “The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida would like to thank Governor Scott for his continuing support of people with developmental disabilities. His recent decision to include funding in his budget to provide services for those on the waiting list demonstrates his commitment to Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. We are excited about the possibility of helping individuals with support needed to work and live productively in their communities.”

 Governor Scott’s budget proposal also includes about $2.5 million to assist people on the waiver waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work. The funding will pay for job internships and supported employment job coaches for about 1,000 people with developmental disabilities.

 “We are truly thrilled to hear this great news and offer our heartfelt thanks to Governor Scott. The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities applauds Governor Scott’s decision to step forward and meet the needs of Floridians with developmental disabilities. The addition of funding to enroll individuals on the developmental disabilities Medicaid waiver will greatly enhance the lives of these people and those who provide for their daily needs. Additionally, providing supported employment services for another 1,000 individuals means these individuals have the opportunity to achieve their employment goals for the first time in their lives,” said Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Executive Director Suzanne Sewell.

 The ARC of Florida Executive Director Deborah Linton said, “These additional funds will allow our chapters to protect the health and safety of more Floridians with intellectual disabilities and in many cases, fulfill their dreams of securing jobs and contributing to their community. It will benefit the individual and the economy.”

 Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Debra Dowds said, “I am thrilled that Governor Scott is working to provide funding for people on the waiting list. Individuals with developmental disabilities need ongoing supports to be fully integrated into their local communities. This money is crucial to helping people with critical needs. The funding specifically for supported employment and job internships will enable many individuals with developmental disabilities to earn wages in competitive integrated employment, moving them to greater self-sufficiency.”


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