Legislative Priorities

The mission of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) 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.

To be most effective in our advocacy, GCDD leads on 2-3 priority areas each session, while also supporting our partner organizations in their efforts. The following 2022 Policy Agenda is based on public input, and in support of our new Five Year Strategic Plan:

GCDD 2022 Public Policy Priorities:

+ Addressing the direct support professional (DSP) workforce crisis.

Direct support professionals are integral to ensuring that people with I/DD can lead meaningful lives, fully included in their communities. Unfortunately, DSPs are drastically underpaid for the work that they do, which is one of the main contributors to the workforce shortage and crisis.

These issues have been extensively studied during Georgia’s 2018 House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings, as well as in GCDD’s 2019 white paper “The Direct Support Professional Workforce Crisis: Challenges, State Approaches, and Opportunities for Georgia,” written by Dr. Carol Britton Laws. Based on the information already known to us, we believe that the state should invest its resources to increase provider rates with a direct passthrough for an increase in DSP wages.

+ Reducing the waitlist for NOW/COMP Waivers through increased funding.

This year, like last year, the DBHDD has asked for 100 new waiver slots in the upcoming budget. We are glad to see a request for additional slots but remain concerned that these low requests will do little to address the over 7,000 person (and growing) waiting list.

For the past few years, a limited number of slots have been funded, which has resulted in no major changes in our large waitlist. Because of this, people with I/DD and their families continue to wait years for needed services. GCDD was encouraged by the creation of DBHDD’s multi-year plan, finalized in 2018, to address the waitlist, and GCDD would like to advocate to ensure DBHDD is receiving enough funding from the General Assembly to reach their goals and objectives. Based on these goals, GCDD is recommending an additional 1500 waiver slots, which would be an approximate $29.4 million in additional funding.

You can find DBHDD’s multiyear plan, as well as an appendix document outlining specific target numbers, here.

+ Strengthening Employment First in Georgia.

Georgia’s Employment First Council was created through the passage of House Bill 831, “Georgia’s Employment First Act,” during the 2017 Legislative Session and was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal on May 8, 2018. The Employment First Council is tasked with the following responsibilities:

  1. Developing an Employment First training plan for providers.
  2. Coordinating and conducting educational activities with other agencies to increase awareness of Employment First.
  3. Evaluating the funding mechanism for inclusive post-secondary education (IPSE) programs in the state; and
  4. Reviewing and making recommendations in a biannual report to the Governor and the General Assembly.

Although there was initial momentum when the Council was first created, there have not been meetings or recommendations produced from the Council for quite some time.

Our goal this session is to work with partners to strengthen the Employment First Council by encouraging them to restart meetings, produce their biannual reports, and work to develop a strong strategic plan for the future of the Employment First Council. We were greatly encouraged by its development and do believe that the Council has an important role to play in advancing competitive, integrated employment options for Georgians with I/DD.

+ Advocating for Georgia’s inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) programs.

Inclusive post-secondary education (IPSE) programs provide opportunities for study beyond high school to students who historically have not been presented with these possibilities. These programs change lives by making college accessible for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Further, this education prepares them to live increasingly independent lives, pursue careers of their choice and provides the potential for increased earnings long-term.

GCDD currently receives state funding to support the eight IPSE programs across the state, and we are committed to sustaining and growing those programs. For more information on Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE), click here.

+ Supporting Gwinnett SToPP's work to disrupt the school to prison pipeline.

The Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline (Gwinnett SToPP), is a parent-led community-centered advocacy group focused on reversing the School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP) trend. The organization was formed in April 2007 by two parent advocates seeking to answer the growing frustration of the number of schools relying on harsh punishment, and law enforcement to address minor school misconduct. The coalition seeks to build and strengthen relationships within the community in two constructive ways:
  1. Increase public awareness of the injustice that all children face within the educational system as it relates to the pipeline and the judicial process.
  2. Promote policy changes through data accountability and fact-based incident reporting which serve to support and strengthen the dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline in Gwinnett County.
Gwinnett SToPP works to fulfill its mission of dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline by empowering the students and parents most impacted by that pipeline to demand safe, supportive public schools. Gwinnett SToPP works under the theory that schools must be accountable to the communities they serve, and parents and students should be active participants in decision making about their schools.

Download the 2022 Public Policy Agenda here.

GCDD Public Policy Vision: Disability in ALL Policy

GCDD promotes public policies that aim to advance the well-being of all Georgians with intellectual/developmental disabilities, their families, and all who love them, by supporting and advancing policies that create and maintain true community inclusion, such as:

+ Health & Wellness

We are committed to advancing sound policies that improve the overall health (physical, mental, emotional, and sexual) of people with developmental disabilities and their loved ones.

+ Housing

GCDD supports policy solutions that provide the infrastructure and funding necessary to address the shortage of accessible, affordable housing options for people with developmental disabilities.

+ Transportation

Reliable transportation options are critical to ensure people with developmental disabilities are truly included in all aspects of communities. GCDD supports policies that improve current transportation options.

+ Education

Inclusive education policies, starting with early childcare settings and continuing through postsecondary education, are necessary to assist Georgians with developmental disabilities in reaching their full potential.

+ Employment

GCDD supports Georgia's vision for a public system that funds employment supports first. We will work to advance policies that improve competitive, integrated employment options for Georgians with developmental disabilities.

+ State Budget

We believe Georgia's budget highlights our state's priorities, and GCDD strives to educate lawmakers on the importance of maintaining/increasing budget line items that impact Georgians with developmental disabilities.

Download the GCDD Public Policy Vision here.

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