BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)–Advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on Thursday hailed Gov. Maura Healey’s fiscal year 2024 budget plan, saying the investments the new administration plans to make in MassHealth day programs and workforce supports would address the persistent capacity and staffing issues that keep thousands of people from getting the services they want.
The Arc of Massachusetts pointed to six specific aspects of Healey’s budget (H 1) that Executive Director Leo Sarkissian said “should address the crisis triggered by the pandemic and give hope to those waiting for assistance.”
The budget includes $200 million in base rate investments for MassHealth day programs, a $54 million increase for Chapter 257 rates, full funding of the Department of Developmental Services’ Turning 22 program at $105.6 million (a $21 million boost) to support a new class of 1,431 individuals aging out of state supports, a $10 million increase in supports for adults with autism, a $7 million increase in family support, and a $270 million increase in residential services including increases for state-operated programs. In total, the Department of Developmental Services would see a budget increase of 14 percent under Healey’s recommendation.
As of 2018, there were 791,132 people with disabilities living in Massachusetts, equal to about 11.6 percent of the state’s 6.9 million population, according to the Commission on the Status of Persons With Disabilities.
“The Governor’s proposal is a strong, welcome initiative which we hope turns the tide in our present crisis,” the Arc’s senior director Maura Sullivan said. A year ago, the president of Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers said that the shortage of workers at group homes and day programs “has now worsened to epic proportions.” She estimated that there were about 7,000 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities on waitlists to return to their day programs once they were able to hire new staff.