Florida ARF Salutes Senator Aaron Bean’s Efforts to Raise Direct Care Staff Wages

Tallahassee, FL (January 29, 2020) During this week’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, Chair Aaron Beach announced a proposed rate increase for direct care staff working in Adult Day Training (ADT), Residential Habilitation (Res Hab), and Personal Supports/Companion programs. These services are funded through the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) iBudget waiver. Not only did Chair Bean recognize the hiring crisis provider agencies face, he addressed the APD deficit and the needs of individuals with disabilities on the waitlist with additional funding recommendations. As the State’s 2020 budget makes its way through the Senate, Florida ARF encourages the House to accept the Senate’s funding recommendations for Florida’s iBudget program. Florida ARF salutes Senator Bean for stepping forward as a champion for individuals with disabilities and recognizing the need to enhance direct care staff wages to ensure the delivery of quality services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Florida ARF & RESPECT of Florida Staff Wish You Happy Holidays & Best Wishes for 2020

Tallahassee, FL (December 20, 2019) The staff of Florida ARF and RESPECT of Florida wish each of our member agencies, employment centers, and stakeholders a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2020. Our Board of Directors and staff are totally committed to assisting the 100+ community agencies we represent to achieve their mission to provide quality services and supports to individuals with disabilities. Florida ARF and RESPECT thank each of you for allowing us the opportunity to represent your interests over the last year, and we look forward to serving you in 2020!


Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez Champions Employment of Individuals with Disabilities

Miami, FL (November 22, 2019) Today, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez joined with RESPECT of Florida partners to showcase employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities. Hosted by Goodwill Industries of South Florida, the event featured a discussion between Lieutenant Governor Nuñez, Department of Management Services (DMS) Secretary Jonathan Satter, and RESPECT of Florida. The event highlighted the RESPECT program which is administered by the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities via a contractual relationship with DMS. Nuñez stated: "RESPECT is a program to be championed and supported by all our state and local government agencies because through governmental entity purchasing, Floridians with disabilities are given the opportunity to learn new skills that can be utilized in competitive jobs and thereby enhance their opportunities to live the American Dream."

RESPECT of Florida has been an industry leader that has helped Floridians with disabilities find jobs and learn new job skills for 45 years. This year alone, through partnerships with a network of about 50 nonprofit agencies statewide, RESPECT has helped employ 1200+ people with disabilities. Florida ARF President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, "We are delighted and honored that Lieutenant Governor Nuñez and Secretary Satter see the value of the RESPECT program and know that governmental entity purchasing literally creates jobs for individuals with significant disabilities through one purchase at a time. Thank you Lieutenant Governor Nuñez and Secretary Satter for your support!"


Florida ARF Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week

Tallahassee, FL (November 8, 2019) On November 11-17, 2019, Florida ARF will be celebrating National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), a nationwide celebration established by the U.S. Department of Labor to bring together leading business, labor, education, and other critical partners to showcase how apprenticeship programs are closing the U.S. skills gap in the American workforce. Florida ARF is pleased to serve as a sponsoring agency with the Department of Education’s apprenticeship initiative for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and is excited that DSP apprentices are completing intensive instruction as well as working a prescribed number of hours gaining on-the-job experience and learning needed competencies over the enrollment year.

According to President & CEO Suzanne Sewell: “The DSP Apprenticeship experience will allow DSP enrollees to enhance their skills and will result in wage increases for those who demonstrate they have mastered the required competencies. We thank the Employers and Apprentices that have joined with us to launch this unique DSP Apprenticeship initiative and celebrate their efforts this week.” Participating member agencies include: Arc Broward, MacDonald Training Center, Pine Castle, MACtown, Sunrise Community, and The WOW Center. These agencies are moving the needle forward to assist providers in enhancing professionalization of the Direct Support Professional position within the ID service system. An added benefit is that the Apprenticeship initiative will assist provider agencies in meeting the hiring crisis provider agencies face.

For more information on the DSP Apprenticeship initiative, please contact Florida ARF Member Services Director Courtney Swilley at 850-942-3510.