Last Wednesday the Department of Developmental Services convened the Developmental Services Taskforce to discuss various options for spending $40 million ($25 million state General Fund + approximately $15 million in matching federal funds), as passed in this year’s state budget. The funding, as directed by the Legislature, is only available until June 30, 2020, and is therefore considered a “bridge” until the state has an opportunity to conclude a comprehensive rate study and potentially adopt recommendations from the study that would ease the funding crisis for community based services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Legislature, however, gave the department broad discretion to develop a methodology on how the bridge funding should be dispersed.
The Arc California and The Arc & UCP Collaborative were integrally involved in the advocacy efforts that secured this funding in this year’s budget, and were also involved in the stakeholder meeting to discuss the disbursement methodology. Much of the discussion at the stakeholder meeting revolved around possible scenarios for spending the money. For example, if the funds were distributed statewide to the same service codes that received funding under ABX2 1, then it would only amount to a 0.76% increase for those rates. On the other hand, if the funding was distributed strictly to community-based day programs with rates below the current temporary payment rate, and community care facilities under the Alternative Residential Model with 5 or more beds in “high cost” counties, then the rate increase would be as much as 6.23%.
Underscored throughout the meeting was the fact that there are systemic inadequacies in our community based services system that MUST be addressed in the forthcoming rate study. Ultimately, the discussion produced several suggestions and possible priorities, especially an emphasis on disbursing the funds quickly, but no concrete proposals were given to the department. The department, along with the Department of Finance, now have the challenging task of deciding on a final methodology and submitting it to the federal government for approval.
Jordan Lindsey, Executive Director, The Arc of California