FORT MYERS, FL—Governor Rick Scott today visited LARC, Inc. in Fort Myers to announce an additional $36 million in funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list.
Governor Rick Scott said, “Living in your own home and having a job are what all Floridians want, including those with disabilities. With our $36 million investment, we will be changing people’s lives for the better so they may live their version of the American Dream. For the first time in eight years, we will move more than 750 people off the APD waiting list so that they will receive the services they need to participate in their community and develop skills to find a job. ”
Governor Scott’s 2013-2014 Florida Families First budget includes $1.1 billion total for APD, including for the first time in eight years, $36 million that will allow individuals on the waiting list to enroll in the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver so they will receive services in their local communities. Those with the most urgent needs will benefit from this new funding.
The new budget also includes about $500,000 to assist people on the waiver waiting list who have indicated that they want to go to work. The funding will pay for supported employment services to help 200 people with developmental disabilities obtain and maintain jobs and internships.
The budget includes a one-time appropriation of $40 million ($17 million in state funding, $23 million federal match) to pay off the waiver deficit from prior fiscal years. With this funding, APD is projecting to be within its appropriation for the first time in many years. Leaders of organizations that serve people with disabilities unanimously praised the approved budget.
APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I want to thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for their confidence and strong support of APD. We are ready to begin helping those with the most critical needs in the coming year.”
Roger Bradley, Executive Director for LARC, Inc. said, “With the $36.3 million for the waiting list, the wait is over for those with the most severe disabilities who have been waiting an inordinate amount of time for services. An undesirable trend is now being reversed by Governor Rick Scott and our legislators because they listened and acted on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens. Hope has returned for many of our families! This new funding for employment targets students with intellectual and developmental disabilities that are transitioning from high school to the adult world, and will enhance and hasten the opportunity for them to join the workforce without being first diverted to the couch. The direct route to employment is the most cost effective and efficient route for those who want to immediately go to work when they leave high school!”
Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Board member Tricia Riccardi said, “We would like to thank the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott for approving the APD budget as this will help so many more people in Florida.”
Michele Poole, president of The Arc of Florida said, “The people who will come off of the Medicaid waiver waiting list have been eager to receive services for a very long time and are grateful for the assistance. We thank Governor Scott and the Legislature for taking this step in the right direction.”
Family Care Council Florida Past Chair Betty Kay Clements said, “I want to thank Governor Rick Scott and Florida Legislators for their attention to individuals with developmental disabilities that the Agency for Persons with Disabilities serves. The 2013-14 Florida Families First budget addresses for the first time in eight years, people on the waiting list for the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver. There will be dramatic and positive changes in the lives of at least 750 people and their families. Individuals will receive critical services and supports that will enhance the quality of their lives and increase opportunities for them in their communities. This is wonderful news for them and their families. It is a step in the right direction and one that gives hope to those waiting for services.”
Additionally, the Florida Families First budget contains $1.4 million for improvements to William J. Rish Park on Cape San Blas in Gulf County. Rish Park is a state park that was built and designed for people with disabilities. Facilities at the park were damaged many years ago by a hurricane and have been unusable.
APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 50,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1 866 APD CARES (1 866 273 2273).