THE ARC OF NORTH CAROLINA 2017-18 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Posted by The Arc of North Carolina

The Arc of North Carolina is an advocacy and service organization working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families for over 60 years. The Arc is committed to securing for all people with I/DD the opportunity to choose and realize their goals of where and how they live, learn, work and play. Informed by our mission, this document represents broad policy priorities adopted by our statewide, volunteer board of directors.

BUDGET/MEDICAID

The state budget must provide a stable system of care, support and opportunity for people with I/DD across their lifespan. The budget must reflect a cohesive system of innovative services that provide options to individuals and families; streamlines regulatory requirements for providers; and maximizes funds by leveraging state and federal matching dollars through waivers and other tools. Most of the goals included in this document are affected by funding/budgeting in some way; however, here are specific budget items:

  • • Increase funding to expand Innovations Waiver slots to address the growing wait list in our state.
    • Increase access to quality healthcare to cover as many citizens as possible in the State
    • Increase funding for crisis services programs that address the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities including services provided by NCSTART and case management to children dual diagnosed with I/DD and mental health needs.
    • Increase Medicaid rates for Innovations waiver services and Personal Care Medicaid services most of which have not been increased for 20 years.
    • No reductions in Medicaid provider rates or in Medicaid optional services.
    • Provide evidence-based intensive behavioral treatments for children and youth on the Autism Spectrum and support policies that make that treatment more accessible.
    • Fund a pilot project for case management as proposed in the 2015 House budget to address the needs of people with I/DD on the wait list for services in NC.
    • Remove Arc of NC from the competitive grant process for guardianship services or change the process to be less cumbersome and to allow payments to be more timely.
    • Support improvements that are recommended from the Medicaid Residential Treatment Rates Study and the Study of the Innovations Waiver to address the Wait List.
    • Medicaid Reform must include a system built upon independent and robust Person Centered Plans, a critical component of Medicaid's new Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) regulation requirements.
    • Establish independent case management for people with I/DD.
    • Create a support system to address the needs of people no longer qualifying for Personal Care Services (PCS).
    • Ensure individuals with I/DD receive accessible, effective and integrated physical health care and health promotion in a variety of health care settings.

EDUCATION:

It is imperative that North Carolina raise the graduation rate for students with disabilities while providing more options for and greater access to post-secondary educational opportunities and broader employment opportunities. The education system for students with I/DD must provide more outcome-based goals for exceptional children, greater access to career-ready diplomas, increased integration of accessible digital learning options, and earlier and improved transition services planning.

  • • Successfully fund education across the lifespan from early intervention through post-secondary education and transition services.
    • Increase funding for the Students with Disabilities Grant Program to address the states growing wait list.
    • Seclusion and Restraint Training Initiatives for School Resource Officers, Teachers, Law Enforcement and others who have contact with the I/DD community. This more robust policy should be based on Arc of the US national platform.
    • Establish centers for excellence in three state regions to promote and support the increased need for post secondary opportunities for students with I/DD.
    • Open state funding options for students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to access post secondary education.
    • Ensure needed exceptional children specialists across educational settings, including charter schools.
    • Provide opportunities for more K-12 students with disabilities to access extended school year options.
    • Improve Transition Services and provide specialists across educational settings.
    • Work with post secondary educational providers to provide additional opportunities for students with I/DD. Focused especially on those opportunities that would integrate the students in a wide variety of classes and educational opportunities.
    • Protect against funding reductions to Teacher Assistant positions in grades K-3.

EMPLOYMENT:

People with disabilities remain the most unemployed and underemployed working-age population nationwide. North Carolina must work with a broad array of stakeholders to create innovative, long term solutions to successfully transition people with I/DD into our state's workforce with meaningful employment opportunities.

  • • More resources need to be provided for the transition from school to work. Vocational Rehab services and supports should start much earlier to ease the transition.
    • More funding is needed for Vocational Rehab staffing, job coaches and opportunities for long term stable employments in a meaningful array of opportunities
    • Bring stakeholders from community colleges, businesses and providers of supported employment together to create internship and apprenticeship opportunities that lead to real jobs.

HOUSING/TRANSPORTATION

North Carolinians with I/DD need a wide array of housing and transportation options. To promote robust residential options, we must ensure individuals with I/DD have the services and supports they need to access the housing of their choice, and housing providers must have adequate and stable funding to provide these options. Transportation is critical component of living and working in the community, and the needs of people with disabilities must be included in transportation plans both at the statewide and local level.

  • • Housing System Funding should reflect the true cost of providing housing services and should support a range of residential housing options for individuals with I/DD.
    • LME's must open up group home slots for those who need the services but do not have a waiver.
    • A stable funding stream for residential options and supports must be created
    • Successfully implement the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) new Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) regulations.
    • Maximize existing housing resources by funding community-based supports
    • Additional Funding for the NC Housing Finance Agency

GUARDIANSHIP

Many individuals with I/DD and mental illness in North Carolina require some level of guardianship and do not have a family member to offer this vital support. The Arc, is a nonprofit corporate guardian to over 780 people with I/DD or mental illness and supports an individualized approach to guardianship emphasizing the least restrictive level of guardianship, alternatives to guardianship, and active restoration or rights whenever possible.

  • • Increase the per person corporate guardianship rate to reflect the true cost of serving these high need individuals
    • Directly fund The Arc of North Carolina's Guardianship Program instead or requiring a competitive grant year after year. Resources and staff time would be best utilized assisting individuals receiving guardianship services.

TECHNOLOGY

North Carolina should promote innovative approaches to supports and services that build upon new technology. This includes the use of smart home technology and accompanying monitoring that can be used to support individuals in their own homes. Such technologies are often a cost effective and non-intrusive way to provide individually tailored supports, increased safety and independence for people with I/DD.

  • • Invest in technology that supports people living in the home of their choosing
    • Ensure technology-related human rights protections are in place, regularly reviewed, and enforced
    • Create a pilot project with stakeholder input to identify and establish in-home and smart home technology best practices
    • Make digital learning options more accessible

DISABILITY POLICY INITIATIVES:

  • • The Intellectual/Developmental Disability Caucus has been formed by the General Assembly to focus on the needs of the I/DD community. The Arc will work to advise the Caucus and help educate them on the diverse needs of the I/DD community. We will especially strive to provide practical solutions that can be implemented in communities around the State.
    • ABLE Act. We will continue to provide advice and any assistance needed to the State as they create the NC version of the ABLE Act. We will also advocate for increased funding and a change in the law to make contributions to an ABLE account tax exempt (which is the Federal model).

TAX POLICY:

The General Fund supports critical needs including education, employment options, and support services for people with I/DD. These services need to be funded to meet the needs of the citizens of North Carolina.

  • • Tax revenue policies should be reflective of the needs of the state’s citizens and the systems that support them without undue limitations on legislators ability to create good policy.
    • Tax policy should address the needs of those with I/DD who are on waiting lists to receive supports and services.
    • Restore the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
    • Protect the current laws regarding non-profits and their tax exempt status

VOTING RIGHTS:

North Carolina must continue to support the right of citizens with disabilities to participate in the electoral process without undue hardship or barriers to their constitutional rights.

  • • The Arc will work with the Department of Transportation, Division of Motor Vehicles along with other stakeholders to create guidance on the distribution of free, state-issued identification cards
    • We will Continue to advocate for voting to be more accessible by addressing polling place accessibility, lengthy wait times to vote, and the training of staff to support and protect the rights of voters with disabilities. We will also work to educate our own members about their rights to vote.