2024 Advocacy Days

GCDD Advocacy Days Logo 2019FThe Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) hosted its annual Advocacy Days in January and February of 2024. These three advocacy days that took place over a two-day period, one day of virtual preparation, the next day in person at the Georgia State Capitol.

Our 2024 Advocacy Days created the opportunity for GCDD, self-advocates, and our Developmental Disability (DD) Network partners across Georgia to go to the Georgia State Capitol during the legislative session and advocate on topics that are important to the disability community. This year’s focus areas were:

Inclusive Post Secondary Education (IPSE) Advocacy Day

Georgia has been leading the way in advocating for Inclusive Post Secondary Education programs. Currently, Georgia has nine schools supporting people with intellectual disabilities (ID) to go to school in Georgia. These programs serve as a pipeline for future skilled and talented candidates with disabilities in Georgia to learn skills and get education that can help them to enter the workforce and/or live independently after college.

Last year our community advocated to the General Assembly that there needed to be a state-supported IPSE scholarship to help make these opportunities more affordable. The General Assembly heard us and listened to what we advocated about, and they created a grant opportunity that has greatly helped our community.

Our ask: To fully fund the IPSE grants and make sure that all Georgians with ID have this opportunity.

View our one-pager on the IPSE Advocacy Day.

Advocate for IPSE funding using our Phone2Action campaign at https://p2a.co/o5k33cu.

Waivers and Wages Day

Georgia’s disability community is in a state of emergency regarding the Medicaid waitlist and wages for direct support professionals (DSPs). Currently Georgia has a waiting list of over 7,000 people waiting for HCBS services. These services are critical for the disability community who are supported by DSPs.

Last year the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) funded a rate study around DSP pay. The study found that Georgia’s DSP community desperately needs a rate increase to help support people who work in this field. The Governor has included $79 million in his budget to ensure that the study is funded in full. GCDD has been advocating to ensure that this provision stays in the budget and DSP rates are increased this year.

Georgia’s system of support for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) is outdated. A Senate study committee met in 2022 to determine the need for Medicaid services that keep people with disabilities in their home and communities. This committee recommended that the legislature funds 2,400 new NOW/COMP waivers and that it creates an I/DD commission. GCDD has continued to advocate for 2,400 waivers, but currently the legislature has only budgeted for 100 new NOW/COMP waiver slots.

Fortunately, this year, there has been a bipartisan proposal to create a new commission focused on Georgians with I/DD. SB 198, sponsored by Senator Sally Harrell, would create the Georgians with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Innovation Commission. The goal of the commission is to develop new solutions for ending the NOW/COMP waitlist, employment, housing, and other important issues for the disability community so that adults with I/DD can live, work, and thrive in our communities.

Our asks: To fully fund the DSP rate study which would come out to 107 million and also support 2,400 waivers which is about 65 million waivers.

To develop a Georgians with IDD Innovation Commission

View our one-pager on Waivers and Wages Advocacy Day

Advocate for Waivers and Wages using our Phone2Action campaign at https://p2a.co/ybiapc9.

Advocate for the creation of an I/DD Innovation Commission using our Phone2Action campaign at https://p2a.co/kzypo5f.

Advancing Employment First and Ending Subminimum Wage Day

Last year the disability community in Georgia identified an underlying issue around paying people with disabilities below minimum wage (subminimum wages). Currently, in Georgia employers can legally pay people with disabilities below minimum wage compared to their able-bodied counterparts. During our legislative advocacy days this past year, GCDD’s public policy team met with legislators to talk about the issue.

This past summer, we kept the conversation going and identified one legislator who is willing to help end this unfair practice. We are in the final steps of getting the bill ready to present and this year we are advocating to fully end 14c Certificates in Georgia to make sure Georgians with disabilities are being paid a fair and livable wage.

This legislative session we have two asks that will support real employment for Georgians with Developmental Disabilities.

Our asks:

To support Georgia as a Model Employer (Senate Bill 384), that would require Georgia's state agencies to set goals for the recruitment and retention of people with disabilities.

To support ending 14c (House Bill 1125), the outdated practice that allows employers at community rehabilitation programs to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage.

View our one-pager on Advancing Employment First and Ending Subminimum Wages.

Advocate to end subminimum wages by using our Phone2Action campaign at https://p2a.co/incinpo.