Florida ARF Shares 2023 Legislative Platform During Annual Consortium

Tallahassee, FL (February 3, 2023) Florida ARF joined with multiple stakeholders and self-advocates in the disabilities field to review each entity’s 2023 Legislative Platform. The event was sponsored by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council. Florida ARF President & CEO Tyler Sununu presented the Association’s platform and stressed the need for provider rate relief to address recurring operational and labor costs to offset cost increases and inflation. Sununu reported that providers have found that 70% of their total cost of providing services goes to DSP wages, but the other 30% of the business has not been accounted for when giving increases. While the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by 20% over the last five years, an increase for non-wage operational costs has not been addressed yet. Sununu reported that a joint survey conducted by Florida ARF and The Arc of Florida showed that 85% of providers said the new rates do not cover their costs. He also discussed needed funding for the community Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IIDs). Participating organizations expressed that they recognize the strain that exists within the provider network that serves individuals with disabilities. Florida ARF looks forward to working collaboratively with other stakeholders to address the funding needs for programs serving individual with disabilities.


Florida ARF Looks Forward to Working with New Agency Leaders

Tallahassee, FL (January 31, 2023) As we enter a new year, we see many changes occurring. At the beginning of the month, the inaugural events for Governor DeSantis occurred along with the swearing in of the Florida Cabinet. However, we have been awaiting word on leadership posts from the DeSantis Administration as leaders have stepped down in many positions.

Last week, after weeks and weeks of speculation on who would take the helm at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) the announcement finally came from the Executive Office of the Governor.

Taylor Hatch will serve as the Director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). She is currently the Deputy Secretary at the Department of Children and Families (DCF), has extensive experience in workforce development, and has been integral in launching First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Hope Florida initiative. Hatch previously served as DCF’s Assistant Secretary for Economic Self-Sufficiency and as the Director of Workforce Services at the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Jason Weida will serve as Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). He is currently the interim secretary at the agency, and prior to that, served as AHCA’s chief of staff and Assistant Deputy Secretary for Medicaid Policy. Weida previously served as a senior official at the U.S. Department of Justice and has experience working at a global law firm.

Florida ARF looks forward to working with Director Hatch and Secretary Weida on issues of importance to members.


Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2023

Tallahassee, FL (December 9, 2022) As we close out 2022, many of our member agencies and the individuals they serve are celebrating the holiday season. 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 2023. The Association is totally committed to assisting the community agencies we represent to achieve their mission to provide quality services and supports to individuals with disabilities. While we experienced a momentous 2022 with the funding increases by Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, we still have areas we need addressed in 2023. We will be continuously working to ensure that our members needs and messages are communicated to policy and lawmakers. Florida ARF and RESPECT thank each of you for allowing us the opportunity to represent your interests over the last year. We look forward to serving you in 2023!


Florida ARF Reflects on Accomplishments During National Apprenticeship Week

Tallahassee, FL (November 14, 2022) November 14-18, 2022, is National Apprenticeship Week, 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 skills gap in the American workforce. As part of the celebration, Florida ARF is honored to recognize our graduates of the Direct Support Professional (DSP) Apprenticeship. The Association is a sponsoring agency with the Department of Education’s apprenticeship initiative which provided a statewide opportunity for our member agencies to be approved as apprenticeship Employers. Our DSP Apprentices completed intensive instruction and work a prescribed number of hours to gain on-the-job experience as well as learning needed competencies over the enrollment year. We commend the 51 apprentices that have completed the DSP Apprenticeship to date and celebrate their success during National Apprenticeship Week. According to Vice President Courtney Swilley: “The DSP Apprenticeship experience allows DSPs to enhance their professional skills, obtain a certificate of completion, and realize wage increases based on demonstrated competencies. We are very pleased with the success that has been achieved and thank the Employers who joined with us for this groundbreaking initiative. We are pleased to celebrate their success.”