Legislative Priorities

AFAM’s Policy Priorities 2017-18

[note: Legislative Priorities will be updated when the new legislative session begins]

Housing (Accessory Apartments) S2132
Senator Barbara L’Italien, Representative Kevin Honan
Legislation to encourage the creation and preservation of long-term housing stock for people with disabilities and seniors in the form of two bedroom accessory apartments.

Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment S1222/H1954
Senator Barbara L’Italien, Representatives Sean Garballey and Pat Haddad
This bill allows persons with autism or other intellectual or developmental disabilities to access the Commonwealth’s state colleges and universities to gain skills necessary to work and live as independently as possible as adults.

Police Training in Autism H2276
Senator Jennifer Flanagan, Representative Kimberly Ferguson
This bill requires training of law enforcement officers and correction officers in appropriate interactions with persons on the autism spectrum, and also develops guidelines for law enforcement response to individuals on the autism spectrum who are victims or witnesses to crime, or suspected or convicted of crime.

Certified Interpreters in Educational Settings H2025
Representative Diana DiZoglio
Legislation to require DESE to set qualifications for interpreters in the educational setting, such as during Individualized Education Program (IEP )meetings.

Nicky’s Law or The Abuse Registry S.2606/ H4026
Senator Michael Moore, Representative Linda Dean Campbell
Legislation to establish a registry of caretakers found to have substantiated abuse against persons with an intellectual disability or developmental disability. DDS and DDS funded providers would not be able to hire someone on that registry. NOTE: Unanimously passed Senate.

AFAM’s FY18 Budget Ask
There are 37,000 individuals and families on the Dept. of Developmental Services (DDS) caseload. Families are the largest group of caregivers. Family support, Turning 22 and related supports comprise a lifeline for these families and their loved ones.
• Families are our greatest asset, representing 60% of individuals served yet just 3.5 % of the budget
• Caregiving can mean 24/7 support, giving up jobs and can affect the entire family
• With meaningful supports, families who have loved ones with autism can remain together and part of their community

AFAM is grateful that the House and Senate accepted Governor Baker’s Turning 22 proposal in its entirety. As the graduating classes have grown from 630 in 2010 to 975 in 2018, no new formula was set for those turning 22 years old who need DDS assistance, forcing families to leave jobs and providing few opportunities for young adults. The House and Senate revised the formula once in the 1990s, and we have the opportunity to embrace this policy goal today.

Our line items were affected by conference committee actions and the governor’s vetos. These are the numbers as they now stand:

*Line Item 5920-5000 Turning 22 total $23,102,218
Most T22 remain with family and need employment/day, family and transportation supports. First year ever that year one services are proposed to be fully funded.

*Line Item 5920-2025 Day-Employment total $202,095,152
In addition to the nearly 951 Turning 22 students, some persons in services need additional help and $3 Mil transferred from line item 2026 which has been eliminated.

*Line Item 5920-2000 Community Residential total $1,158,069,133
Youth with developmental disabilities (mostly autism) are graduating at higher rates. FY’17 funding did not allow for adults newly in need. These dollars help those from 2017 who are funded and older adults who require more support due to medical and other conditions.

*Line Item 5911-2000 Transportation total $21,838,463          Transportation for 2017 Turning 22 graduates and individuals currently receiving services.

Other Priorities:

*Line Item 5920-3000 DDS Family Support & Respite Services total $63,532,818
Last year’s $5 Mil increase was released months after the start of the fiscal year. But we know 10,000 families were waiting for supports along with elder caregivers and families caring for individuals with autism who have high needs. Funding this line item responds to a lifetime of caregiving.

*Line Item 5920-3020 Adult Omnibus total $13,338.362
Youth with autism are graduating at higher rates. FY’17 funding did not allow for adults newly in need. We need to catch up with students left at home and those graduating this year expected to total nearly 300.