ABCD Testifies Before the NJ Legislature on the Proposed FY’22 Budget: We Don’t Give Up!

Published On: March 19th, 2021Categories: Advocacy Papers, News

Good day, Chairperson Sarlo and members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee/Chairperson Pintor Marin and members of the Assembly Budget Committee.  My name is Cathy Chin and I am here on behalf of ABCD. Thank you for this opportunity to share our thoughts as you begin deliberations on the proposed FY ’22 Budget.

I believe there has been a terrible oversight.

The administration clearly values and is building pathways for all children as evidenced by their proposals to increase investments in early childhood education, universal pre-K, youth mental health, maternal infant health that reduces racial disparities, and health care for children.

But for babies and toddlers who are developmentally disabled and delayed this pathway is slowly being eroded and for those who are Black and African American, this pathway needs a little more construction.

Early Intervention which provides PT, OT and ST that can change the life trajectory of infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities, is once again, effectively for 16 years, not receiving a rate increase.

As I did back in 2017 when the NJ Legislature came to EIs rescue over the handling of the new management system I ask you to kindly consider an increase of $15 million which will enable us to pay our professionals competitive salaries and reach out to underserved communities.

If we get them at 1, we are less likely to see them again at 21.

During the Revised Budget Hearings, a budget committee member framed the low incidences of COVID among the DD adult population as a “success story.”

  • While DHS immediately closed programs and instituted an enhanced rate to help cover residential staff needed to be in home 24/7 with 8000 individuals sheltering in place.
    • Front line staff took enormous risks while continuing to provide compassionate and quality care.
    • Managers handled the unchartered crisis with confidence and steadiness, projecting hope and strength while filling in for front line staff when needed.

We don’t give up.

For FY’22 we ask for your support of the Governor’s proposed wage increase for front line workers and for the enhanced residential rate to ensure that these settings continue to have the resources to keep individuals safe during the pandemic. My thanks to the Governor for his leadership, prioritization and foresight in this area.

Before the rollout of the current system in 2014, concerns were raised about the viability of day programs which serve individuals who due to their disabilities have high rates of absenteeism. If there is no structural rate reform, we will fail these individuals who will have few community options if discharged from day programs which can’t afford to serve them. Please consider an increase of $11.8 million to the day rates to, in part, reasonably accommodate this group of individuals.

Finally..

Care coordination which also helps prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation for our adult population is too important to do poorly. Support Coordinators have proved themselves valuable partners as evidenced by their continued delivery of service with no disruption during COVID.  Please consider correcting their current rate which is based on an education misclassification.

Delivered March 10 and 16, 2021

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