TALLAHASSEE — On June 2, Governor Ron DeSantis approved his $100 billion budget for state fiscal year 2021-2022. Included in this record budget is substantial funding to serve the customers of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). APD serves more than 58,000 Floridians with severe forms of autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the financial commitment made by Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature to serve our customers,” said APD Director Barbara Palmer. “We will now be able to enroll new individuals from the waiting list with the $95 million allocated for that purpose. I want to thank Governor DeSantis for his support of our agency and his leadership during this pandemic. Keeping Florida’s economy open has allowed the Legislature to provide funding to meet the needs of our customers.”
The key APD investments in the budget include:
• $95,666,846 to offer the Home and Community-Based Services Medicaid waiver to individuals in crisis and those with critical needs on the APD waiver waiting list.
• $1,372,118 to continue implementation of the APD iConnect system for the purpose of providing electronic visit verification (EVV) for provider service delivery to APD customers and electronic billing for Developmental Disabilities Medicaid waiver services.
• $320,000 to complete the replication and validation study of the Individual Comprehensive Assessment (ICA) – APD is currently developing a methodology using the Individual Comprehensive Assessment tool to determine an individual’s service and budget needs.
• $20,051,900 for necessary repairs and maintenance for the Sunland Center in Marianna – This funding will ensure the health and safety of residents and staff.
• $1,089,228 to address necessary repairs and maintenance for the APD-managed facilities.
• $1 million for employment and internships for individuals on the APD waiting list.
• $2 million for renovations and repairs to Billy Joe Rish Park in Gulf County, which was impacted by Hurricane Michael.
Family Care Council Florida Chairperson Dina Justice said, “As parents and self-advocates, Family Care Council Florida appreciates the overwhelming support that the state of Florida has given to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the iBudget Florida funding. We are pleased that many of our individuals on the waiting list will receive the support and assistance they desperately need.”
Association of Support Coordination Agencies (ASCA) President Ryan Chandler said, “We applaud Governor DeSantis’ continued actions to support Florida’s most vulnerable population. This funding will help significantly reduce the number of individuals on the waiver waiting list in our state during an unprecedented time when so many are in desperate need of services.”
Support Coordination Association of Florida Chair Laura Mohesky said, “Support Coordination Association of Florida (SCAF) wants to thank Governor DeSantis for his support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are especially happy to see the financial commitment of $95 million for individuals in crisis and on the waiting list. SCAF members continue to be committed to the consumers we serve and look forward to working with new individuals and families that will be added to the waiver this year.”
Arc of Florida Interim CEO Jim DeBeaugrine said, “The Arc of Florida appreciates the significant investment of funds that will serve people who are currently on the waiting list. We remain hopeful that there will be a path forward, both near term and long term, to ensure that there is a capable and stable workforce available to serve them in the future.”
APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. 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).