Sherwood 2020 Legislative Priorities
1.) Federal: Monitor proposals that adversely impacts people with disabilities and send out timely action alerts.
Washington State: Maximizing public funding by adopting a sustainable funding structure to ensure equitable early intervention services are available to all eligible infants and toddlers wherever they live in Washington State.
Sherwood CEO Comments: This priority is worded generically on purpose. There are many ways to accomplish this goal and we also want to be open to new ideas that Legislators might have. We are currently working on a transfer of over $100M from OSPI to DCYF and an equitable statewide funding structure for Early Intervention Services. If protections in 3rd bullet below cannot be guaranteed, there is a back up plan that the ESIT Program
The current funding system is very complex with administrative holdbacks occurring several times before the funding makes it to direct services. The maximum amount of funding should be used for high quality direct services that benefit infants and toddlers.
Currently, the majority of funding for EI resides in OSPI and not the lead agency within the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF). The funding should reside with DCYF who is responsible to administer this program.
Early Intervention funding should maintain protections including being caseload forecasted and continue to be tied to the Basic Education Allocation (BEA) rate.
Other states have been able to access Federal Medicaid match funding for Early Intervention Services. Once funding has been transferred to DCYF, our state should pursue federal Medicaid match for state funds appropriated for Early Intervention Services.
2.) Supporting recruitment and retention of qualified professionals to provide quality early intervention services to infants and toddlers.
Sherwood CEO Comments: Early Intervention Providers have a difficult time recruiting qualified specialists including Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapists.
Local providers struggle to recruit qualified professionals to provide high quality Early Intervention services to help infants and toddlers reach developmental milestones.
We support a funding structure that can offer competitive wages, benefits and a tuition reimbursement program or other incentives that will encourage qualified providers to enter the Early Intervention Service System.
3.) Develop functional roles, responsibilities, and data sharing agreements between OSPI, DDA, DVR and Counties to identify each agency’s role for young adults with developmental disabilities transitioning from school to work.
Sherwood CEO Comments: This priority is the result of research and is a stepping stone to providing employment services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities prior to age 21.
In 2018 the state legislature called for coordination among these agencies through a budget proviso1. As a result of this workgroup, it has become evident that these agencies have aligned goals and the ability to braid resources to optimize the public investment. The current proviso workgroup can take this opportunity to impact systems change by identifying how every student across the state can receive baseline transition services and supports to access the adult system when they exit school. We ask that the original proviso language have specific deliverable outcomes that ensure roles and responsibilities are clear and coordinated among DVR, DDA, OSPI and Counties that administer employment services.
Continue to ensure adequate Basic Plus Waiver services to accommodate exiting transition students who will need adult services, including employment. Move Washington from the 41st national ranking for IDD community investments2, to the top twenty by 2030. Do this by enabling us to incrementally plan for the needed funding and workforce resources over the next ten years.
4.) Cost of living adjustments for Employment and Community Inclusion providers.
When providers can maintain healthy businesses, attract and retain quality staff, better outcomes for people with disabilities necessarily follow. Employment and Community Inclusion service providers need to keep pace with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in order to stay even with the rising cost of doing business. Over the last 5 years, providers have received ½ of the CPI increases determined by the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Western Region3. As such, Community Employment Alliance requests a 2.9% cost of living adjustment for providers to keep pace with increasing costs of wages, benefits, and regulatory requirements.
5.) Eliminate Sub Minimum Wage Certificates for people with disabilities.
People with disabilities can legally be paid less than the minimum wage in Washington State.
Sub minimum wage is a historical exemption and it is time to see people with disabilities as fully contributing citizens who are eligible for the same protections as any other employees.
HB 1706 was proposed and made it to the Senate Floor in 2019 Legislative Session. In the end the bill was amended to only apply to state employees. Several Legislators are interested in proposing a bill to eliminate Sub-Minimum again in 2020.
Sherwood CEO Comments:
Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maryland have already adopted legislation to phase out sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities. I have included information from the Maryland Legislation in the packet.
As of August, 2018, 450 people in Washington State were paid sub-minimum wage. 6% of those authorized for employment/day services.
Pre-Vocational Services are phased out in Washington State as of May 2019.
Sub minimum wage is already eliminated in King County.
Many advocates including People 1st, SAIL, DRW, Arc and other national organizations support the elimination of sub-minimum wage.
Impacts to people’s benefits are being addressed at the federal and state level.
1 SSB 6032 (2018) Section 501(57). http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/lbns/2018Omni6032-S.SL.pdf
3 For King County, the CPI between 2015 and 2019 increased 10.7%, however, providers have only received total increases of 5.5%.
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