The main objective of our public policy efforts is based on promoting policies that make sense for the public we serve and allows the integration between people with developmental disabilities, the people who support them and the community as a whole. The GCDD’s resources, vision, values, goals and mission create the solid platform that continues to influence the direction of public policy at state and federal levels. This is a platform that fosters change in service provision, reflects the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities, and promotes public awareness of those needs.
Legislative Agenda 2016
Tools for Legislative Advocacy:
- Speak Up: A Guide To Self Advocacy – Thanks to the ARC of Washington State (PDF) (Text Accessible)
- Legislative Advocacy Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) (Text Accessible)
- How A Bill is Passed in the Georgia Legislature (PDF) (Text Accessible)
- Advocacy Demystified: Tools & Strategies for Effective Consumer Health Advocacy (PDF)
- NEW! Capitol Accessibility Guide for Visitors with Disabilities (State of Georgia) (PDF)
Mark Your Calendars: Disability Day at the Capitol, Thursday, February 18, 2016
Join thousands of constituents and advocates from all across Georgia at the State Capitol for Georgia’s largest annual advocacy event!
Click here for more information or to register.
GCDD Advocacy Days: February 2016
Join GCDD for Advocacy at the Capitol! We will be holding a series of advocacy days along with our annual Disability Day at the Capitol. Each advocacy day will have training, visits with legislators and networking with others in our community
Click here for more information or to register.
GCDD Legislative Agenda 2016:
The mission of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities is to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play and worship in Georgia communities.
Currently youth have the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, a standard that allows all children with disabilities to go to school. Unfortunately, after high school, IDEA support ends and there is no standard support system for people with disabilities. Too many fall off the IDEA cliff and end up wasting away in institutions, day centers, sheltered workshops, jails, or on their parents’ couch without a way to contribute their gifts and talents to the broader world. Only a lucky few make it across the pit to pursue further education, internships, and careers.
However, if Georgia becomes an Employment First state and prioritizes competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities, this could be a game changer for its citizens with disabilities. Then, after high school, no longer would folks fall off the IDEA cliff, but instead they would have the supports they need to pursue their dreams – whatever that might be.
Make Georgia an Employment First State
Employment First means that employment should be the first and preferred option for all people, regardless of their disability. Under Employment First legislation, employment in the general workforce at or above minimum wage is the first and preferred option for all working age citizens with disabilities. Currently, the Georgia system creates many barriers for individuals with disabilities to work. Although the majority of Georgians with developmental disabilities want to work, only 8% of Georgians with developmental disabilities are currently employed in the community¹. Under an Employment First policy, state agencies will need to re-align their policies and funding to prioritize employment for all working-age Georgians with disabilities.
- Support legislation that will make Georgia an Employment First State
¹ National Core Indicators 2013-2014. National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services and Human Services Research Institute. www.nationalcoreindicators.org/charts
Download the Employment First Fact Sheet here.
Support Students to Attend Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) Programs in Georgia
Inclusive post-secondary education provides opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to access higher education. This education prepares them to live increasingly independent lives and pursue careers of their choice.
Individuals with intellectual disabilities who receive post-secondary education are more likely to find paid employment than those who don't, and their earnings are 73% higher than peers who do not receive post-secondary education2.
Thanks to legislative support, the number of inclusive post-secondary programs in Georgia has grown from one to four. However, students in inclusive post-secondary programs have very few resources available to them to pay for these programs compared to what is available to students of traditional college programs. For example, IPSE students cannot access the HOPE scholarship program. Without financial support many qualified and eager students simply cannot afford the life changing opportunity of inclusive post-secondary education.
- Increase student access to inclusive postsecondary educational programs by creating a scholarship to mirror HOPE to assist students who could not otherwise afford these programs.
- Support the sustainability of inclusive postsecondary educational programs in Georgia by doubling the legislative funding from $200,000 to $400,000. The FY 2017 ASK for new funding: $200,000
Download the IPSE Fact Sheet here.
² Migliore, A., Butterworth, J., & Hart, D. (2009). Postsecondary Education and Employment Outcomes for Youth with Intellectual Disabilities. Think College
Fast Facts. No 1. http://www.thinkcollege.net/publications/fast-facts.
UNLOCK! (formerly “Unlock the Waiting Lists”)
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities is proud to support “UNLOCK!” formerly known as “Unlock the Waiting Lists”. The UNLOCK! campaign advocates with Georgians with disabilities so they and their families can live full lives and contribute to Georgia communities and the Georgia economy. We believe Georgia must rebalance its system of long-term services and supports, so that fewer dollars are spent on institutional care and more dollars are invested into home and community-based supports (HCBS).
We Need More DD Waivers
Out of the several Medicaid waivers that Georgia offers to those who qualify for this level of care, the NOW/COMP waiver has by far Georgia’s longest waiting list. There are over 8,000 individuals with developmental disabilities on this waiting list. These individuals and their families are desperately hanging on and need Georgia to throw them a lifeline.
- Fund at least 1000 NOW/COMP waivers to reduce Georgia’s longest waiting list and allow more individuals to begin to receive services. $16,486,250
Download the NOW/COMP Waivers Fact Sheet here.
Address the ICWP Rate Disparity
The Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP) provides vital assistance to people with significant physical disabilities and traumatic brain injury to help them with daily tasks such as toileting, bathing, dressing, meals, and housekeeping. The Medicaid reimbursement rate is so low, significantly lower than all the other Georgia Medicaid waivers, that it is extremely difficult to find qualified caregivers. By the time home health agencies take their cut, caregivers often are paid only $8-9/hour.
- Increase the Independent Care Program’s Personal Support rate to $20/hour to be consistent with other Georgia waivers. We recommend phasing in this amount with an increase for FY 2017 of $3/hour. $7,975,490
Download the ICWP Fact Sheet and rate chart.
Children’s Freedom Initiative: Bring Georgia’s Children Home
There are a number of school-age children living in nursing facilities or intermediate care facilities. These children did nothing wrong. They are in facilities simply because they have a disability and need care despite the fact that it is completely possible to care for them in the community. Georgia needs to shut the front door to these facilities and ensure every child has a permanent loving home.
- Provide funding for all of the young Georgians with disabilities under the age of 22 who are currently living in facilities to move into permanent loving homes and have the care they need.
The ABLE Act in Georgia
An ABLE Account is a tax advantaged savings account that will allow people with disabilities to save money without putting their benefits in jeopardy. It is limited to individuals with significant disabilities who became disabled before age 26 and must be spent on certain qualified expenses. Although the federal legislation that enables these accounts, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013, was already passed by Congress and signed into law, states must pass their own ABLE bills to establish state ABLE programs for their residents.
- Support legislation to establish a Georgia ABLE program for Georgia residents.
Download the ABLE Act Fact Sheet here.
Support Georgians Who Care for Their Families: The Family Care Act
Many Georgians balance their work lives with caring for their families. The Family Care Act would enable Georgians who have earned sick leave to use up to five days of that leave to care for sick members of their immediate family. The Family Care Act does NOT add any additional sick days or require employers to provide them; it only allows Georgians to use the sick days they’ve already earned to care for family members.
- Support the Family Care Act
Change the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities in Capital Punishment Cases
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court said it is wrong to execute a person with intellectual disabilities because it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
But right now in Georgia, it is extremely difficult for an individual to prove in court that they have intellectual disabilities. Georgia is the only one of the fifty states that requires a person to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they have intellectual disabilities in capital punishment cases.
- Change the legal standard of proof for proving intellectual disabilities in the O.C.G.A. to a “preponderance of the evidence”, which is the standard used in most other states
Download the I/DD and the Death Penalty Fact Sheet here.
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities is also proud to support …
- Changes to Georgia’s high school diploma system that will give more students with disabilities the opportunity to obtain diplomas and access further career and educational opportunities
- The creation of an Elder and Disabled Abuser Registry in Georgia that would allow employers of direct care workers to have a better way to screen potential employees and may deter abusers
- The creation of the Phillip Payne Personal Assistance Program, a sliding fee scale program for workers with disabilities to pay a cost share that would allow them to access Personal Assistant Services to maintain their independence.
- The creation of PeachWork, a program that would allow workers with disabilities to pay a premium in order to receive medical coverage through Medicaid. Workers on this program could earn a modest income without putting their Medicaid health insurance at risk.
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities and our statewide network of advocates are eager to work with legislators on our goals and to fulfill our mission. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
Contact: GCDD Public Policy Director, Dawn Alford,
Office: (404) 657-2126 Cell: (404) 805-9741
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