Florida ARF Members Navigating COVID-19 Pandemic

Tallahassee, FL (April 14, 2020) COVID-19 has turned life as we know it upside down across the country and internationally. Our members and the individuals they serve are navigating through a new reality in the provision of community-based services. Florida ARF has been working consistently to provide information and guidance to member agencies to help them weather the COVID-19 storm. The Association has been a part of many calls and communications with Agency Heads to convey member needs and to obtain answers so that our members can continue to operate their programs and services. While the pandemic has been a major “game changer” in how we function, we are confident our members and the Association will be even stronger and will demonstrate even more profoundly how community providers continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities. As President & CEO Suzanne Sewell stated, “the resiliency and resourcefulness of provider agencies who are meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities is truly remarkable. Our members continue to impress us with their commitment to providing excellent care and services in the face of many challenges.” In the weeks to come, the Association looks forward to being fully interactive with our members and celebrating how well our members made it through this crisis. To all of you, take care and stay healthy!

 

Florida ARF Reflects on the Needs of Individuals with Disabilities During DD Awareness Month

Tallahassee, FL (March 23, 2020) March is Developmental Disabilities (DD) Awareness Month and is a time when stakeholders seek to raise even more awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all aspects of community life. After much advocacy and effort by multiple entities and individuals, Florida ARF and its member agencies are pleased to announce this March the Florida Legislature recognized the need by increasing funding resources to serve individuals with unique abilities. Some of the enhancements approved by the 2020 Florida Legislature include: Funding for employment and internship for individuals on the iBudget waitlist; critical rate increases for providers of four core services to raise the hourly wages for direct care staff that are the backbone of the service system for individuals with disabilities; and, additional funds to serve those who are on the Agency for Persons’ with Disabilities waitlist. Also, the legislature recognized the need and funded an additional level of care for those who require additional behavioral services within the ICF/IID program. We have much to be appreciative for as we celebrate the Florida Legislature’s commitment to enhancing services for individuals with developmental disabilities. As we move to the closing of March 2020, we thank our Legislators for their overwhelming support of the needs of individuals with disabilities during DD Awareness Month 2020!

 

Florida ARF Members Rally on DD Days at the Capitol

Tallahassee, FL (February 11, 2020) Today, Florida ARF staff and members joined with stakeholders to advocate for the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities at the Capitol. Following the DD Days festivities, members thanked Senators for their budget recommendations including rate increases for several iBudget waiver services (Adult Day Training, Residential Habilitation, and Personal Supports / Companion). Members also visited with their Representatives to ask for support of the proposed Senate increases and to add another $14 million in state funds so that direct care staff can earn on average $11 per hour. The Adult Day Training funding recommendation from the Senate is of particular concern to the Association and the need for another $3.3 million in state funds was communicated as a need to lawmakers who can resolve this concern. The Association and our members have much advocacy to do to continue fighting for rate increases until the 2020 Session ends.

 

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.