Florida ARF Shares 2024 Legislative Platform During Annual Consortium

Tallahassee, FL (December 1, 2023) Florida ARF joined with multiple stakeholders and self-advocates in the disabilities field to review each entity’s 2024 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 23% over the last five years, an increase for non-wage operational costs has not been addressed yet. 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 Reflects on Accomplishments During National Apprenticeship Week

Tallahassee, FL (November 13, 2023) November 13-19, 2023, is the 9th Annual 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. This year NAW’s theme is “Registered Apprenticeship: Superhighway to Good Jobs,” to reflect the prominence that Registered Apprenticeship has received as a proven and industry-driven training model that expedites the pathway into good jobs and improves diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the workplace. 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 56 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 have joined us for this groundbreaking initiative. We are pleased to celebrate their success.”


Florida ARF Observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Tallahassee, FL (October 30, 2023) Observed each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities, both past and present. This awareness showcases supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices that benefit employers and their employees. This year's theme, "Advancing Access and Equity: Then, Now, and Next” recognizes the important role people with disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive workforce as well as the passage of the Rehabilitation Act a half-century ago and its importance in prohibiting discrimination based on disability in employment by federal agencies, federal contractors, recipients of federal funds, and in the delivery of federally funded programs and activities. To kickoff this year’s campaign, President Biden issued the annual Presidential Proclamation recognizing the immense contributions of Americans with disabilities and the Administration's commitment to delivering America's full promise of equal dignity, respect, and?opportunity for every American. In the proclamation he stated “While the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA made significant strides toward equal opportunity for people with disabilities, there is more work to do. People with disabilities are three times less likely to have a job, and when they do, they are often paid less money for doing the same work.” Florida ARF joined with other stakeholders this month to celebrate the contributions of the over 3.5 million Floridians with disabilities during the Disability Employment Awareness celebration at the Florida Capitol. Florida ARF is pleased to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness month and recognize all of our members who work so diligently to assist individuals with disabilities in achieving their employment goals.


Florida ARF and the Florida Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (FADSP) Celebrate 2024 Direct Support Professional Week

Tallahassee, FL (September 17, 2023) September 10-16 is Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week. In celebration of this event, Florida ARF and the Florida Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (FADSP) recognized DSPs who make a meaningful difference in the lives of the people they serve. Their stories clearly communicate the loving attitude and dedication of DSPs who give so freely of themselves to serve others. DSPs are the backbone of long-term supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the State of Florida. We truly value and appreciate the services and sacrifices DSPs make to ensure that the needs of others are met.

During the week, the Association featured a select number of DSPs who are making a difference across Florida; we also acknowledged that there are many deserving DSPs that should be recognized for the outstanding work they do on a daily basis to care for loved ones served by our member agencies. The Association is pleased to announce Governor Ron DeSantis signed a proclamation recognizing Direct Support Professional Recognition Week. DeSantis stated, “Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week in Florida is an important opportunity to recognize those who dedicate their lives to providing support and services to our loved ones and improving their communities, including their efforts during public health emergencies.” We could not agree with Governor DeSantis more!

To all the DSPs across Florida, we offer a hearty “Thank you for all that you do!”