Ability Network of Delaware Launches Petition Campaign in Support of HB433

On September 1, 2016 the Ability Network of Delaware (A.N.D.) launched a petition campaign in support of House Bill (HB) 433, legislation introduced in June 2016 by Representative Melanie George Smith, the co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee.  HB 433 mandates that services to people with intellectual/developmental disabilities be funded at 100% of the market rate by the year 2020.

Ability Network of Delaware’s member organizations are charged with caring for individuals with disabilities and other life challenges who are among the most vulnerable citizens in the state.  Organizations that provide services to people with intellectual developmental disabilities (I/DD) struggle financially to keep programs open, services available, and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) paid what they deserve for the difficult work they do.  While community service providers have always known how to “do more with less,” those who serve people with I/DD are currently underfunded by a total of $39 million a year.  Put another way, Delaware’s community service providers are only being paid at 75% of the market rate identified in a 2014 study done by the Department of Health and Social Services.

Because providers are not being adequately paid for services that are mandated for the people they serve, they have been forced to make reductions in staffing levels, as well as in the management oversight and training of DSPs.   High turnover rates and vacant DSP positions that exist in some programs cause additional problems, as it disrupts the stability of those with disabilities when DSPs continually pass through a revolving door in and out of these programs.  By committing to fully funding the rates paid to community service providers, the state of Delaware can affirm that people with disabilities should have consistent and appropriate services, which can only result from the ongoing and stable relationships DSPs develop with them.

A.N.D., its members, and stakeholders in the I/DD service system will be advocating strongly for the passage of HB 433 over the next several months.  To participate in the petition drive please complete the HB 433 Petition and return it to the Ability Network of Delaware by fax at (302)622-9254 or to petitions@abilitynetworkde.org.