Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed his A Bold Vision for a Brighter Future Budget that demonstrates his commitment to helping vulnerable Floridians, including those served by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). The budget includes $1.4 billion to serve APD customers.
APD Director Barbara Palmer said, “I applaud Governor DeSantis for making individuals with disabilities a focus of his administration. We are excited that our state will fund services for people who want to go to work and achieve the American dream. Governor DeSantis believes every person has a God-given right to maximize their potential and make choices about their future. We want to help all people achieve their goals.”
Budget highlights include the following:
- $1.2 billion for the APD waiver
- $48 million to enroll individuals in crisis onto the waiver and help those with significant additional needs
- $28.7 million in recurring funds for increases in Residential Habilitation provider rates to increase the pay of Direct Care workers
- $56.8 million to cover previous year waiver expenses
- $900,000 to continue the Employment Enhancement Program to provide supported employment services, on-the-job training, and internships to individuals registered with APD
- $3.5 million of additional funding to continue the implementation of APD iConnect. This system will provide APD with a central client data system and will include electronic visit verification (EVV) of some waiver services.
- More than $600,000 for Information Technology software to improve the security of client data
- $172,000 to continue the redesign of the Questionnaire for Situational Information assessment tool
- Seven Behavioral Analyst positions added, one each for the six Regions and State Office, to provide better monitoring and oversight of waiver clients with behavioral issues
Reaction from APD stakeholders to the budget is very positive.
Family Care Council Florida Chair-Elect Patricia Oglesby said, “Providing quality services to individuals with developmental disabilities is a priority of the Family Care Council. I am very happy that the state of Florida is committed to helping people with developmental disabilities live community-integrated lives.”
Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities President and CEO Suzanne Sewell said, “Florida ARF and its member agencies are pleased that the Legislature and Governor DeSantis took such affirmative action to enhance the wages of Direct Support professionals who provide quality care for individuals with significant disabilities. On behalf of provider agencies and the individuals they serve, we say thank you to our legislative and executive leaders for responding to the need.”
The Arc of Florida Chief Executive Officer Kirk Hall said, “The Arc of Florida, Arc Chapters and Boards are grateful to Governor DeSantis and the Legislature for their support of individuals with developmental disabilities.”
The Association of Support Coordination Agencies of Florida Chairperson Janice Phillips said, “I thank Governor DeSantis for his support of individuals with disabilities. This funding is vital to protecting the health and safety of our vulnerable customers.”
Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock said, “Special Olympics Florida is extremely grateful for Governor DeSantis’ support of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This funding is instrumental in allowing Special Olympics Florida to continue its strong partnership with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Through this collaborative effort, Special Olympics Florida is able to provide more than 10,000 necessary health examinations per year to not only our 54,000 athletes, but to anyone with an intellectual or developmental disability throughout the state. In turn, this form of commitment, leadership, and support from the Governor, the Florida Legislature, and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, helps us all make great strides in improving access to quality healthcare for those in need.”
APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 55,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, Phalen-McDermid syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit APDcares.org or call toll-free 1?866?APD?CARES (1?866?273?2273).