Victory Living Programs Among Developmental Disability Advocates Urging Lawmakers to Invest in Florida's Communities

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, The Arc of Florida, Victory Living Programs and Florida Developmental Disabilities Council unveiled a plan designed to ensure that Floridians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are fully included in their communities and not segregated in institutions and nursing homes. 

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The four-part Invest in Florida's Communities plan includes Medicaid Waiver Waitlist Funding, Increased Rates for Services, Community-Based Services and Alternative Family Homes.

"We encourage lawmakers and Governor Scott to take this opportunity to invest in our communities and protect some of Florida's most vulnerable citizens," said Pat Young, President of The Arc of Florida.  "This plan will keep individuals with developmental disabilities out of institutions and allow them to become contributing members of society."

"For four decades Victory Living Programs has been providing programs and services that help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) live more independently," states Bobbi Wigand, Executive Director of Victory Living Programs. "The Invest in Florida's Communities plan is about eliminating inequalities and providing a more efficient system to better ensure that individuals with I/DD are given a fair shot to succeed."

Here is a breakdown of the Invest in Florida's Communities plan: 

Medicaid Waiver Waitlist Funding

Florida must invest in Medicaid Waiver Waitlist Funding by supporting the Governor's recommendation for $20 million in funding for the 2014 – 2015 fiscal year. 

The current Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Waiver system and long waitlist for services is inadequately funded to meet the health, safety and basic rights of individuals with I/DD.  Funding is essential to providing necessary services and supports to Floridians with I/DD.

Increased Rates for Services

Florida must increase provider rates by 5% for the 2014-2015 fiscal year and the funding for this should not be taken away from current client services.  The Arc of Florida also supports building a plan to continue to increase rates in the coming years and increasing all provider rates to at least minimum wage.

Florida must invest in provider rate increases so individuals with I/DD are served by qualified and quality professionals.  Right now, professionals working with Floridians with I/DD make less money than employees at fast food restaurants, although they are responsible for lives and required to have a much higher level of training.  Payments for Floridians with I/DD in residential settings currently range from as low as $3.01 per hour for basic care to $11.04 per hour to care for the most involved individuals.

Community-Based Services

Florida must support the request to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to create and implement a comprehensive five-year plan to reduce the number of people with I/DD living in Florida institutions.  The plan will include a review of the cost of serving individuals in state institutions compared to community-based settings.

Florida must invest in community-based services so people are not institutionalized.  This will benefit both individuals with I/DD and taxpayers.  Florida taxpayers would save at least $61 million per year by funding community-based services as opposed to institutional placements.  There are approximately 677 individuals with I/DD living in Florida public institutions.  The average cost of living in an institution is about $120,000 per year per person, while community-based services are $30,000 per person annually.

Alternative Family Homes

Florida must make funding and services available to families caring for children who are medically fragile so they can leave nursing homes and return to their communities.

There are 149 children with medically complex conditions living in skilled nursing facilities in Florida.  Families wishing to keep their children with extensive medical needs at home should be able to do so.  The Arc of Florida also believes families wishing to adopt children with extensive medical needs should be able to do so.

About Victory Living Programs
For the past four decades, Victory Living Programs has created independent living environments for thousands of people with disabilities.  Based in warm, beautiful Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Victory Living Programs offers premier independent and supported living programs that place clients in their own individual, luxurious apartments. In addition to the top-tier supported and independent living programs, Victory Living Programs also offers an extensive array of programming to assist clients with securing and maintaining employment, learning new skills, volunteering in the community and socializing with their peers  - all of which make it possible to infuse independence and transform the lives of people with disabilities. To learn more visit www.victoryliving.org.

About the Arc of Florida, Inc.
The Arc of Florida, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for persons with developmental disabilities.  Working with local, state and national partners, The Arc of Florida advocates for local chapters, public policies and high quality supports for people with developmental and other disabilities to be fully included in all aspects of their community.  Find out how to get involved by visiting www.arcflorida.org.

Contact: Laurie Menekou, (954) 271-4666 (or) lmenekou@conceptual-communications.com

SOURCE Victory Living Programs



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http://www.victoryliving.org

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