Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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Governor Scott Announces Elimination of Critical Needs Waitlist for Persons with Disabilities

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced all individuals with critical needs who have been on the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiting list as of July 1 will be offered enrollment in the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver. Approximately 1,200 individuals will receive enrollment letters from APD in the next two weeks.

 

Governor Scott said, “We’re committed to providing every Florida family the opportunity to live the American Dream – and this year’s It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget invested another $20 million to move all remaining individuals with critical needs off of the waiting list, which is the first time this has happened in the history of the agency. This is the second year in a row we’ve been able to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.”

 

These individuals join about 1,600 people who were offered waiver services last fiscal year. Additionally, the agency will continue to enroll foster children with developmental disabilities into the waiver that are adopted or reunified with family members.

 

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am so happy the agency is able to keep moving people off the waiting list so they may receive waiver services in their communities. I thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for this important funding for the waiting list and their support of our agency. We are making a difference in people’s lives.”

 

After individuals accept the HCBS Medicaid waiver enrollment, they must select a waiver support coordinator who will work with them to develop a plan to address needed services. APD customers also select which waiver providers they want to deliver their services.

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Governor Scott: It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget Invests in Priorities for Persons with Disabilities and Vulnerable Populations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today highlighted investments in the It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget directed to support individuals with disabilities.

Governor Scott said, “We’re committed to providing every Florida family the opportunity to live the American Dream – and this Budget invests another $20 million to move more than 1,000 individuals off the APD waitlist. This is the second year in a row we’ve been able to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.”

The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget supports Governor Scott’s commitment to make investments in Florida’s most vulnerable communities.

Brings Individuals with Critical Needs Off Agency for Persons with Disabilities Waitlist: The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget funding of the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver waiting list will bring all remaining individuals with critical needs off of the waiting list – a first in the history of the program. The Budget provides $20 million to bring more than 1,000 individuals off of the waiting list for the second year in a row and provides them with home and community-based services to help them live, learn, and work in their communities.

Supported Employment: The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget invests a total of $2.5 million toward job placement and training for individuals with developmental disabilities who are looking for employment and internship opportunities. With this increased funding, more young adults with developmental disabilities will have firsthand opportunities to demonstrate their skills in the workplace. Maximizing firsthand experiences in the workplace was one of three primary recommendations of the 2012 report by the Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities.

William J. (Billy Joe) Rish Recreational Park: The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget provides $1 million to provide maintenance and repairs at Billy Joe Rish Park, located on the St. Joseph Peninsula near Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas in Northwest Florida. Rish Park is open year round for people with disabilities and their family members, guardians, and caregivers. Personal Needs Allowance: The Budget supports $539,000 to increase the personal needs allowance from $35 to $105 per month for individuals living in Intermediate Care Facilities run by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Early Intervention Services for Autism: The Budget supports $1.4 million toward early screening and intervention services for children with autism spectrum disorder in underserved families. These services will provide relief to families by teaching critical skills, reducing problem behavior, and improving IQ and adaptive and social skills in their children. Funds will also be used to train future physicians, psychologists, and behavioral therapists who will be crucial in expanding access to these important services in the future.

MACTown Fitness and Wellness: The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget continues efforts to identify new and different ideas for helping individuals with developmental disabilities achieve their maximum potential in living healthy and productive lives. The Budget supports $175,000 for MACTown Fitness and Wellness Center in Miami-Dade for a personalized, safe, and closely monitored environment. Individuals can pursue their fitness goals through education, hands-on experience, and a consistent schedule of exercising on professional and specialized equipment and aerobics classes. The healthier the individual, the better they are able to maximize their independent living skills.

The Arc of Florida Dental Services: The Budget supports much-needed dental services for individuals with developmental disabilities through another $2 million provided to The Arc of Florida. Funds will be used to enroll new providers and continue statewide coordinated dental services, which will improve the health and self-confidence of the people served.

Rate Increase for Adult Day Training Providers: The Budget supports $1.3 million for a two percent across-the-board raise to all providers of adult day training services in the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waiver program. These services are among the most popular in the program. Providers offer individuals up to six hours per day of meaningful activities that support the individual in daily routines of the community, including training in the areas of self-help, adaptive, and social skills. These services are provided in congregate, facility-based settings, and may include off-site enclaves or mobile work crews.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am thrilled the Legislature supported Governor Scott’s recommendation to fund the waiver waiting list for a second consecutive year. With this new money, we will now be able to serve the remaining individuals with critical needs on the waiting list. This is a major milestone for APD. I appreciate Governor Scott and the Legislature’s ongoing support of APD and assistance in helping us achieve this important goal.”

Pat Young, president of The Arc of Florida, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said, “We are grateful to Governor Scott and the Legislature for moving individuals off of the Medicaid Waiver Waitlist and continuing to fund this important dental program. Many Floridians with developmental disabilities have suffered from dental pain for more than a decade. They will now be pain-free.”

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Executive Director Suzanne Sewell said, “The Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) thanks Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for responding to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities by appropriating an additional $20 million to serve individuals and families who have been waiting for years to receive essential services. Because of this budget, more than 1,000 individuals will be served during next fiscal year.

Additionally, another $500,000 was approved to assist individuals with disabilities with achieving of their career goals. Our member agencies are thrilled that so many individuals will be receiving the supports they need to maintain their independence and enhance their quality of life,”

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Debra Dowds said, “We are very appreciative of Governor Rick Scott for his continued support to address the needs of Floridians with developmental disabilities. Through this additional funding many more people with developmental disabilities on the waiting list will be offered waiver enrollment and receive the services they need to be employed, independent, and to meaningfully participate in their communities.”

Sherry Wheelock, Special Olympics Florida President and CEO said, “This funding is critical to the health and emotional well-being of people with developmental disabilities in Florida allowing them to be contributing and respected members of society.”

Betty Kay Clements, parent and past chairperson of the Family Care Council Florida said, “I want to express a sincere thank you to Governor Scott and Florida legislators for continuing to address the APD waiting list by budgeting $20 million for next year. These dollars will ensure that additional individuals will enroll in the APD HCBS waiver and receive the quality services and supports they need. The $500,000 for employment services also increases the number of individuals who will realize their goal of working in their community alongside their neighbors, and reaching their potential. The money for Rish Park will allow APD to upgrade this unique park and assist people with disabilities to enjoy a full range of accessible recreational adventures among nature and a beautiful Florida coastline.”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida chairperson Janice Phillips said, “The association is heartened by the efforts of Governor Scott and the 2014 Legislature to improve the lives of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens. For the second year in a row, additional funding is allocated to provide needed assistance to individuals on the waiver waiting list. This also provides assurance and encouragement to other families remaining on the list that help is on the way. We also applaud the governor and Legislature for providing funding for supported employment to people with developmental disabilities. This will enable individuals to become more productive citizens of Florida by enhancing their lives with meaningful employment and added inclusion and engagement in their communities. The funding for improvements to Rish Park—an extraordinary facility designed as a completely wheelchair-accessible getaway for people with disabilities—will provide many hours of enjoyment to this population for generations to come. The inclusion of these items in the 2014-15 state budget is very exciting for all of us who serve this very special group of Floridians.”

Area 2 Family Care Council Chairperson Lou Ogburn said, “We are pleased that money has been put in the budget to further reduce the folks who are on the waiting list, to provide dollars to help with employment efforts, and to improve Rish Park. It is critical that our state continue to work on eliminating the waiting list for those needing services. The dollars for employment efforts will help by allowing some people to work and thereby reducing the amount needed from the waiver while keeping them living in the least restrictive environment.”


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GOV. SCOTT: MORE THAN HALF OF INDIVIDUALS WITH CRITICAL NEEDS MOVE OFF APD WAIVER WAITING LIST

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Governor Rick Scott today announced approximately 1,600 people, up from an estimated 750 people, will be moved off the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver waiting list. This is the first time that more than half of individuals with critical needs will be moved off of the APD waiver waiting list. Earlier this year, Governor Scott announced that $36 million in funding in his Florida Families First budget would help approximately 750 individuals to be moved off of the waiting list and be offered services through the waiver. That number is now expected to reach approximately 1,600, covering more than half of the individuals on the waiting list that have critical needs.

Governor Scott said, “In March, we were thrilled to commit $36 million to move 750 people with disabilities off of the APD waiver waiting list. Today’s announcement that our investment will help approximately 1,600 individuals –up from 750 individuals- receive the services they need is great news for Florida families. This will also be the first time that more than half of the individuals with critical needs will be moved off of the APD waiver waiting list. Our goal is to create an opportunity economy in Florida that supports jobs for generations to come. Our $36 million investment in APD will ensure our most vulnerable population will receive needed services and allow many to develop skills to help them find a job and live their American Dream.”

Governor Rick Scott recommended and the Florida Legislature supported including $36 million in the Florida Families First budget to serve people currently on the APD waiver waiting list. APD hosted two stakeholder meetings to develop the criteria to enroll those with the greatest needs with the new funding.

The Florida Families First budget also included 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.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I am excited we have the ability to move additional people off the waiting list, and for these individuals to begin receiving waiver services in their communities. I appreciate Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for this needed funding for the waiting list and their support of our agency. We are truly changing lives for the better.”

Debra Dowds, Executive Director of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, said, “This is indeed a great year for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. So many more people who are in desperate need of services will be offered waiver enrollment than initially anticipated. This is a very positive step to help reduce and hopefully one day, eliminate the waiting list for people with disabilities who live and work in Florida. We are very appreciative to Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for their support to address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.”

Janice Phillips, Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida said, “A great tribute to Governor Scott and the Legislature that the funding they allocated to individuals with disabilities on the waiting list has been maximized to serve additional people. We are very excited to learn that additional people with developmental disabilities on the waiting list will be receiving services.” 

 

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Governor Scott Celebrates $36 Million in Funding for APD Waiting List

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).


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Governor Scott Celebrates $36 Million in Funding for APD Waiting List

JACKSONVILLE, FL—Today, Governor Rick Scott visited Pine Castle in Jacksonville to celebrate $36 million in funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list.  Disability stakeholders stood with Governor Scott in support of the increase in funding for APD in the 2013-2014 state budget. Hundreds of people were at Pine Castle today to hear the good news from Governor Scott.

Governor Scott said, “I want every Floridian, including those with disabilities, to be able to follow their dreams. By investing $36 million in funding for APD for the first time in eight years, individuals with disabilities will be able to receive services in their communities and more people will be able to get the skills they need to have a job.”

The Florida Families First budget includes $1.1 billion for APD, including for the first time in eight years, a $36 million investment to 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 individuals with the most critical needs will benefit from the new funding.

The Florida Families First budget also 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 end the current fiscal year on June 30 within its appropriation for the first time in years. Leaders of organizations that serve people with disabilities unanimously praised the approved budget.

APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “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 employment. I want to thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for their support of our agency. All stakeholders and employees worked together to bring our waiver spending under control, and we are ready to begin helping those with the most urgent needs beginning July 1.”

Karen Prewitt, Family Care Council Area 4 Chairperson said, “As parents of a child on the APD waiting list, my husband and I are thrilled that steps are finally being taken to address the need for services, and recognizing the thousands of families on the APD waiting list.  While our son Caleb is yet very young, we realize the importance of the waiting list and waiver, and the assistance that is being made available to so many more families with this budget approval.  We are just one of many families in the state of Florida who have their own story and a loved one who has needs. This move is such a positive experience and we are thrilled, for the first time in many years, all those families on the waiting list can have so much more hope in getting the help they need. Thank you, Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature!”

Pine Castle, Inc. Executive Director Jon May said, “On behalf of the 400 participants at Pine Castle and those on the waiting list for services in the state of Florida, I want to extend a sincere thank you to Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for adding $36 Million in funding to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to serve additional persons in need from the waiting list.  We also appreciate Governor Scott visiting our center today to celebrate this new funding.  Pine Castle is where people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities enjoy opportunities to learn, work, and connect to the community.”

Lou Ogburn, Family Care Council Area Two Chairperson, said, “The Family Care Council and I commend Governor Scott for remembering those persons with disabilities and putting them as a priority in his budget this year.  This was a very good thing and certainly the right thing to do.”

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.

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) President and Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Sewell said, “Our membership is thrilled that Governor Scott and lawmakers truly placed Florida families first this year while balancing the need to invest in economic development issues and improvements to Florida’s educational system.  We are delighted with the outcome of this budget and applaud all who supported the great initiatives within it. We are also pleased that the governor has visited so many community provider agencies to share his Florida Families First budget and to express his commitment to support job development opportunities for individuals with disabilities.”

The Florida Families First budget invests in a 3 percent raise to providers of adult day training services in the Home and Community Based Services Medicaid waiver program. Providers offer individuals up to six hours a day of activities that support the individual in daily routines of the community, including training in the areas of self-help, adaptive, and social skills.

Sylvia James-Miller, Vice Chair for the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council and an advocate from Marion County said, “This is a huge step in the right direction for Floridians with disabilities. The increase in funding for Adult Day Training providers alone is a valuable service that has not seen an increase in a number of years. We are very happy.”

Additionally, the 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, operated by APD that was built and designed for people with disabilities. The facilities on the bay side of the park were damaged years ago by a hurricane and have been unusable. This new money will allow the entire park to be available to people with disabilities to enjoy.

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).


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Governor Scott: Florida Families First Budget Invests in Priorities for Disability Community and Vulnerable Populations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today highlighted investments in the Florida Families First budget to invest in programs for Florida’s disability community.

Governor Scott said, “For the first time in eight years, our budget will be used to remove persons with disabilities from the Medicaid waiver program waitlist and get them the help they desperately need. As we put Florida’s families first, we have a responsibility to invest in programs for the disabled and other vulnerable populations.”

The Florida Families First budget supports Governor Scott’s commitment to make investments for Florida’s disability community.

 

  • Agency for Persons with Disabilities Waitlist Funding:  For the first time in eight years, the Florida Families First budget provides additional funding for the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver program to go toward serving individuals on the waiting list. The Florida Families First budget provides $36.3 million to remove an estimated 750 individuals from the waitlist and onto the waiver program.

 

  • Nursing Home Diversion and Aged and Disabled Adult Waiver Waitlist Funding: The Florida Families First budget funds the waitlist by $25.2 million.  This funding will help keep the most frail of individuals at risk of home placement in their homes and community settings. The funding will serve approximately 2,000 individuals on the waitlist.

 

  • Fetal Alcohol Diagnosis and Intervention: The Florida Families First budget  more than doubles existing funds for early intervention and treatment to mitigate potential long term effects on children.

 

  • Quest Kids: The Florida Families First budget invests $650,000 toward early intervention services for at least 82 children, and skill validation and behavioral support services for at least 221 adults. Services will teach critical skills and reduce problem behavior, improve IQ and adaptive and social skills in children, and develop home-life and employment skills in adults. With this funding, individuals with disabilities will master new skills, transition into and maintain placement in mainstream school, improve literacy skills, achieve personal goals, and maintain current living arrangements.

 

  • Dan Marino Jobs Program for Children with Disabilities: The Florida Families First budget invests $1,000,000 toward on-the-job training, internships, and mentor apprenticeships for individuals with developmental disabilities between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. With this funding, more young adults with disabilities will have firsthand opportunities to prove their value in the workplace. Maximizing firsthand experiences in the workplace was one of three primary recommendations of the premier 2012 report by the Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities. 

 

  • Rate Increase for Adult Day Training Providers: The Florida Families First budget invests $1,895,756 in the form of a 3 percent across-the-board raise to all providers of adult day training services in the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waiver program. These services are among the most popular in the program. Providers offer individuals up to six hours per day of meaningful activities that support the individual in daily routines of the community, including training in the areas of self-help, adaptive, and social skills. These services are provided in congregate, facility-based settings, and may include off-site enclaves or mobile work crews.

 

  • William J. (Billy Joe) Rish Recreational Park: The Florida Families First budget provides $1,400,000 to provide maintenance and repairs at Billy Joe Rish Park, located on the St. Joseph Peninsula near Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas in Northwest Florida. Rish Park is open year round for people with disabilities and their family members, guardians, and caregivers. Special ramps provide access to the beautiful beach on the Gulf of Mexico.  Boardwalks connect all the cabins to the beach, event hall, and pool, and the Olympic-size swimming pool is wheelchair accessible. 

 

Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer said, “The agency is extremely grateful and humbled by the support we have received from both Governor Scott and the Legislature. The $36 million to help individuals with critical needs move from the waiting list to the Medicaid waiver will dramatically improve their lives and allow them to receive needed services in their communities. Also, the funding to provide job coaches and internships to additional people with disabilities will help them compete in the job market, and go to work like everyone else. We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for this strong support which will truly change lives.”

The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida Chairperson Janice Phillips said, “The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida “With the improvement in the economy and increase in state revenue, it is heartening to know that Governor Scott and the Legislature are making Florida’s citizens who are most in need a priority.  We are sincerely grateful to Gov. Scott and the Legislature for the funding to provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities who are on the waiting list.  We have many deserving people who need support and services to help them live in their community and to realize goals such as working and being productive citizens.”

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, “On behalf of its member agencies and the thousands of individuals they serve, the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities thanks Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature for approving funding that will allow the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to begin addressing the DD Medicaid Waiver services wait list.  For the first time in eight years, hundreds of wait list individuals and their families can look forward to receiving much needed services to meet their health and safety needs.  As a result of the incremental funding and triage language that was passed to conform with the wait list funding, Floridians with developmental disabilities and their families can be assured that their needs were truly recognized by our Governor and lawmakers.”

Family Care Council Florida Past Chair Betty Kay Clements said, “Many thanks to Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislator for their attention to individuals with developmental disabilities.  There will be dramatic and positive changes in the lives of at least 750 people and their families.  This is wonderful news for them and for their families. It is a step in the right direction and one that gives hope to those waiting for services.   Addressing the needs and issues of individuals with developmental disabilities is a win- win situation.  It really does make a difference for them, their families and their communities.  Individuals, families and their Florida communities are the winners.”

Executive Director of Special Olympics Florida Sherry Wheelock said, “This new $36 million in funding for the APD waiting list is critical to expanding statewide access to support services for those who need them most.  It will help grow awareness of programs like Special Olympics Healthy Community that offers comprehensive health screenings, evaluations, and wellness opportunities to a population that is generally underserved.  We are grateful that Governor Scott, the Legislature, and APD recognize and are committed to better serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; a goal that Special Olympics has routinely sought to accomplish.”  


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Governor Scott Celebrates $36 Million in Funding for APD Waiting List

Waiting list funding to be allocated for the first time in 8 years

Governor Rick Scott today visited Bishop Grady Villas to celebrate $36 million in funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) waiver waiting list. Hundreds of people with disabilities and their families cheered as Governor Scott shared the good news about APD’s budget for 2013-2014.

Governor Rick Scott said, “I want every Floridian, including those with disabilities, to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of finding a job and live their version of the American dream.  With our $36 million investment, we will be making a big impact on many families throughout the state. For the first time in eight years, we are helping more than 750 people move off the APD waiting list where they will receive the services they need to participate in their community and develop skills to find employment.”

The Florida Families First budget includes $1.1 billion for APD. $36 million of that funding will allow individuals on the waiting list to enroll in the APD Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver and start receiving services in their local communities. Those with the most critical needs will benefit from this new funding.

The Florida Families First budget also 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 am so happy that the Florida Legislature supported Governor Scott’s recommendation to provide additional funding for the waiver waiting list for the first time since 2005.  I want to thank Governor Scott and members of the Legislature for their confidence in APD. Families, waiver support coordinators, providers, and our employees have worked very hard to bring our waiver spending under control, and we are ready to begin helping those with the most critical needs in the coming year.”

Michele Poole, president of The Arc of Florida said, “We thank Governor Scott and the Legislature for taking this step in the right direction. 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.”

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.

Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Jean Sherman said, “Families are greatly encouraged that the Legislature responded with funding to begin serving those individuals from the waiting list in the most urgent need. Likewise, designating new monies to help transitioning youth from the waiting list find employment is a positive step forward. Both of these actions signal that the voices of our families and loved ones are being heard in Tallahassee and for that we are most grateful.”

Family Care Council Florida Past Chair Betty Kay Clements said, “Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature have made a difference in the lives of many Floridians with developmental disabilities and their families. By supporting the governor’s budget for APD, legislators have opened the door for at least 750 individuals to receive needed supports and services through the Home and Community-Based waiver. Many more will be assisted with employment support and opportunities forthcoming from the agency. It is a step in the right direction and one that those of us who advocate for all individuals with developmental disabilities and their families can applaud.  It also gives hope to those who are on the waiting list that they are not forgotten.”

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council Executive Director Debra Dowds said, “This is a great year for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.  Instead of budget reductions, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities will receive a much needed increase in funds.  In particular, many individuals with developmental disabilities with the most critical needs will begin to receive the services and support that they so desperately need.  Funds specific for employment will also support many individuals with developmental disabilities to be more productive and independent Floridians. The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council would like to thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for their support and we hope this will be the beginning of a long term commitment to address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.”

$1.5 million for a new APD data system was funded in the budget that will provide service-specific information from providers regarding service delivery dates and progress, as well as better verification that services were delivered at the times and locations that were authorized by the agency.  Additionally, this data system will include an electronic client central record that will provide the agency with information that can be used to more efficiently and effectively serve individuals with developmental disabilities by providing electronic information that will track provider services and progress for the client.

Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (Florida ARF) President and Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Sewell said, “The membership of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities extends a sincere ‘Thank You’ to the Florida Legislature and Governor Scott for their demonstrated support of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities program during the 2013 Legislative Session.  For the first time in eight years, the program has received enough funding to address the service needs of those who are on the APD waiting list.  Also, the agency can now purchase a much needed electronic case management system which will enhance management and accountability of the iBudget system. The results of the 2013 Legislative Session were indeed positive for the individuals and families served by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities!”

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. The facilities on the bay side of the park were damaged many years ago by a hurricane and have been unusable.