2022 Public Policy Platform
“The Arc Maryland works to create a world where children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have and enjoy equal rights and opportunities.”
I. Adequate Funding for Community Programs
Ensure full funding of mandates and secure additional funds to create a stable, quality system of community supports funded by the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) that is designed to meet the needs, goals, choices, and outcomes of all individuals with IDD.
Ensure funding is sufficient for people who self-direct their services. Service Definitions, Billing Policies, and Funding should be such that traditional providers are able to attract and retain a qualified Direct Support Workforce and stabilize provider infrastructures.
Ensure that the finalization of the DDA rate study includes proper consideration rates that support and align with the stated goals of the DDA, adjust for minimum wage increases and COLA through time, and include acuity, transportation, and geographic differential factors.
II. Equitable Access to Services and Supports
Examine statutes, waiver components, regulations, policies, procedures, and operational guidance and advocate for changes to ensure equity and access for people with IDD.
Advocate that funding levels and policies ensure access to services and choices of people with complex needs to be supported in communities and settings of a person’s choice.
Maryland is now the most diverse state on the East Coast, however, services and supports have not sufficiently evolved to ensure that people who identify as Hispanic/Latino and other underserved groups have equitable access to communication, information, services, and supports.
Advocate for the inclusion of underserved populations in all systems of support throughout the state, and a Developmental Disabilities Administration that is responsive to the needs of diverse people with IDD and their families.
III. DDA Waiting List and Autism Waiver Registry
Provide availability of service funding for those on the Autism registry who have been determined eligible for Autism Waiver services. Change in the way in which children on the Autism Waiver are evaluated for eligibility to improve timeliness and access to needed services.
Maryland is the wealthiest state in the nation, yet thousands of children and young adults up to age 21 are not receiving services and supports they need. Research supports that early intervention is the key to the success of a child, and dramatically reduces the likelihood that children will need extensive supports as they age. The Autism Waiver registry continues to be more than 6000 children long. Children wait more than 8 years on the registry list before they are even evaluated to receive services. Some even age out of the program before they can access any services due to the excessive wait.
IV. Transitioning Youth
Ensure families are involved in the transition process and have access to reliable information for a seamless transition to adult life, starting at 14.
Advocate for meaningful high school opportunities that train, prepare, and educate students for successful transitions to adult life outside of school.
Fully fund all Transitioning Youth (TY) who exit the school system after their 21st birthday, so they have the supports they need to participate in their community, jobs, and life-long learning and/or higher education to ensure meaningful adult life and opportunities.
Reform Transition Process to improve DORS, DDA, and other post-High School service connections. Ensure transition is seamless, supportive, and informative with increased assistance to families and exiting students with IDD. Advocate for programs that support graduates in post-secondary opportunities (university and college supports).
V. Education and Children’s Services
Ensure students with IDD have access to inclusive, quality, safe, free, and appropriate public education (primary, secondary, and post-secondary education) and receive appropriate accommodations to participate in all aspects of education.
Ensure children with IDD are included in neighborhood childcare, before and after school programs, and camps, regardless of the nature or level of disability.
Advocate for family-centricity to include training and education opportunities for parents and opportunities for peer to peer/family to family connections for support and resource sharing.
Advocate for early childhood screening in childcare settings for earlier identification of disabilities and timely intervention.
Ensure students are safe to learn. End the use of seclusion, overhaul restraint practices, and provide teachers with training on seizure identification and response, and how to use appropriate behavioral interventions with students in need.
Provide opportunities for cameras in self-contained classrooms under specific circumstances, and implement trauma-informed care and restorative practices in all schools.
Increase opportunities for competitive, integrated employment at fair wages for people with all types of intellectual and developmental disabilities and ensure funding is sufficient to provide quality community supports with an “employment first” focus.
Examine incentive-based funding mechanisms to ensure people with more significant disabilities have equal access to quality provider supports and there are no unintended consequences of funding policy decisions.
Note: “Employment first” does not mean “employment only”. People who are not yet ready to work or who choose to access community activities during the day instead of work should have the supports they need to meaningfully participate in those activities, including transportation and nursing services as applicable.
VII. Access to Housing
Increase affordable and accessible housing so people with IDD can live in inclusive communities of their choice.
Eliminate housing discrimination through awareness, policy, and advocacy for enforcement of related laws.
Advocate for DDA and other state departments to allocate resources to address housing support needs of people with IDD, and for the review and possible adjustment of current room and board payments in acknowledgment that they have not changed in years.
Increase awareness that Medicaid may not be used to subsidize room or board for people supported in DDA Community Living programs and additional assistance is needed, from developers, policymakers, and state and federal funders.
VIII. Law Enforcement and Justice
Support police training efforts that reduce stigma, increase safety, and inspire relationships of acceptance and support for all Marylanders.
Advocate for enforcement of rights of people with disabilities in the community, and that first responders, law enforcement, and court personnel receive training on disability rights and the ADA.
IX. Civil Rights
Close the remaining state institutions and oppose the expansion of State Residential Centers (SRCs) and new admissions to SRCs, including respite care.
With consideration to the fact that some individuals in society require the assignment of a guardian to ensure a person’s health and safety, The Arc shall advocate for the rights of individuals to have alternatives to guardianship fully explored and exhausted, when possible, prior to a guardianship assignment.
Advocate for Supported Decision Making as a legal option and alternative to guardianship.
Advocate for individuals under guardianship to have information on what rights they maintain and what rights guardianship impacts.
Advocate for reviews of guardianship, for less restrictive alternatives, periodically in our guardianship statutes.
Advocate for training for businesses on the ADA and ways in which business can be accommodating to all people regardless of ability, for the enforcement of the ADA, and for reasonable employment application and workplace accommodations.