Direct Support Worker Wages
The Arc of Florida conducted an analysis of the costs incurred by an efficiently operated business in delivering residential habilitation services (group homes) and adult day training. Similar to the findings from an independent actuarial analysis conducted for the Legislature and Agency for Persons with Disabilities for a different set of services, the analysis indicates the need for rate adjustments for these two services given the realities of today’s labor market. These two services primarily rely on semi-skilled, hands-on staff who ensure safety and provide critical assistance in activities of daily living such as personal hygiene, eating, dressing, and taking medications. Without access to workers who can pass the required background screening and have the temperament to deal with the stresses associated with caring for individuals that often have challenging behaviors and physical needs, the availability of these two critical, community-based services will be compromised. Individuals who lose access to cost-effective supports and services provided in community-based settings will likely be forced into more restrictive settings at increased expense to taxpayers.
Increase provider rates for Adult Day Training and Residential Group Homes by 5% with language directing that the increase is intended for direct care staff. Based on publicly available information, this is estimated to cost approximately $9.8 million in General Revenue and $15.2 million from the Grants and Donations Trust Fund (Federal Matching dollars).
The Proposed Language
From funds in specific appropriations *****$9,800,000 from General Revenue and $15,200,000 from the Grants and Donations Trust Fund are provided for a 5% provider rate increase for adult day training and residential habilitation services to increase direct support workers.
Implement guidelines for the use of seclusion/restraints in the public school system
The current lack of guidelines for use of physical restraints and seclusion in the public schools creates the potential for abusive behavior that create serious issues related to the basic human and due process rights of children and their parents. Interestingly, children are subjected to the use of restraints and seclusion that would be strictly prohibited in facilities serving adults and would be considered abusive in these settings. Children deserve the same protections as adults.
The Arc of Florida supports legislation that outlines requirements for the use of seclusion, restraint and exclusionary and non-exclusionary time out activities in public schools. Legislation must require continuing education and in-service training relating to the use of these techniques.
Support Senator Lauren Book’s Senate Bill 62 entitled “An Act Related to Students with Disabilities in Public Schools.”
Document cost of room and board services provided in group homes
The Consumer Price Index is used annually to adjust monthly payments to Social Security (SSA) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries. The primary purpose of SSI income is to cover subsistence costs (e.g. room and board). Individuals served in group homes are required to cover the cost of their room and board, minus a monthly personal needs allowance, from their own income which for this population is primarily SSI. While individuals living in residential group homes typically receive an annual increase in their monthly SSI checks, absent Legislative direction no portion of these increases flow to group home providers to cover increased costs that they incur to provide room and board.
Create a process in statute to regularly document the cost of providing room and board to provide reliable information for setting room and board rates and deciding whether to pass on some portion of regular cost of living adjustments to room and board costs incurred by group home providers.
A new subsection (8) is added to section 393.066, Florida Statutes and existing subsection (8) is renumber to subsection (9) to read as follows:
(8) The agency, in consultation with housing and service providers, residents, and other interested stakeholders, shall develop a model rate for room and board services provided in residential facilities as defined in subsection 393.063 (32) based on the actual costs of providing room and board services. The rate developed shall include a comprehensive analysis of costs incurred by an efficiently operated business to provide room and board services to include, but not be limited to, maintenance, depreciation, food costs, utilities, insurance, and property taxes. The agency shall provide an estimate of the impact to state expenditure requirements and resident income of adopting the model rate developed pursuant to this subsection. The agency shall compile the results of the review and analysis required by this subsection to the Executive Office of the Governor, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives no later than ?? of each year.
(8) (9) The agency may adopt rules providing definitions, eligibility criteria, and procedures for the purchase of services provided pursuant to this section.
For more further information or questions regarding this request, please contact:
Deborah Linton, CEO at The Arc of Florida at 850-728-2747