VCDR 2013 Platform
As Passed by the VCDR Board of Governors
The Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights presents our legislative platform for 2013. This document presents some of the legislative, policy and state budget issues affecting Vermonters with disabilities and their families. As we enter this new legislative session we see much to celebrate as well as reasons for concern. Vermont was an early and successful pioneer in integrated education, employment and community service programs. In recent years some of our successes have been threatened by policy changes and budget reductions.
Vermonters living with disabilities want to be active and contributing citizens in 21st century Vermont. This is a concern shared by a growing number of Vermonters: More children are being diagnosed with developmental disabilities; and disability is affecting more Vermonters as they age, including family caregivers. At the same time, younger individuals moving from school to adult life want equal opportunities to work and contribute to community life. New Vermonters come from increasing diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds and may need to access culturally responsive disability resources and supports.
The interests and concerns of Vermonters with disabilities are essential elements of health care reform, community development, rebuilding and recovery after Tropical Storm Irene and the preservation and renewal of health, education and human services programs and strategies. VCDR will work to protect Medicaid benefits and long term care services that individuals with disabilities of all ages depend on to maintain health and independence. We will continue to advocate for successful peer directed services and other mental health, children and family services, transportation and economic development initiatives, legal resources, educational services, and other state and community programs that promote self determination, community participation, health and employment.
We look forward to working with both the Administration and the legislature to ensure that the work of this legislative session addresses the hopes and needs of Vermonters with disabilities and results in policies and programs that are beneficial to all Vermonters.
Respectful Language Legislation Follow Up: The legislature, legislative council, and state agencies should insure that all policy drafting uses respectful language and that the process of amending Vermont statutes in the spirit of the 2010 bill proceeds with implementation.
Safeguarding Mental Health Rights and Protections: VCDR will monitor and oppose legislative proposals that may diminish the civil rights of people with mental health issues, particularly those that might relate to forced treatment. Due process should not be compromised as new inpatient and community services are developed.
Values and Quality Assurance in Developmental Services: People with intellectual disabilities served by the Vermont’s developmental service system should be protected from abuse and neglect, have choices, and be able to be full participants in community life. The values of self determination and community integration in Vermont’s Developmental Disabilities Act be should be adhered to in related laws, regulations, policies and in the provision of services and supports. Twenty years after closing Brandon, we need to rebuild our quality assurance infrastructure for developmental services.
Opposition to Physician-Assisted Suicide Legislation: VCDR opposes legislating physician-assisted suicide. We are particularly concerned that this campaign is happening at a time when there are so many unresolved inequities in our current health care systems. Vermont can – and should – create needed options and real choices for individuals at the end of life by ensuring equal access to the programs, practices and protections that will make quality palliative care, hospice, and community supports at the end of life a real choice for all Vermonters.
Individual and Family Engagement in Health Care Reform: VCDR will monitor state and federal health care reform with the goal of ensuring that Vermont's financing, service delivery and administrative practices benefit individuals with disabilities and their families and that related policies and practices ensure equal access and necessary rights protection for these Vermonters. This includes health care reform activities, including the Vermont Blueprint for Health’s implementation in communities, to ensure that patients and family members are integral participants in their design, implementation, and evaluation.
Integrated Family Services: VCDR will monitor the actual budget and policy actions being implemented under the Integrated Family Services initiative to ensure that actions are consistent with stated goals and set outcomes. We recommend that the change process be slowed down until the Agency puts appropriate infrastructure in place to support mindful family-centered actions and clear, timely communications about IFS. We should also emphasize the need for family and youth engagement in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the changes.
Disability Awareness in Schools: Disability and Deaf awareness should be promoted in Vermont classrooms and the third week of October should be designated as Disability History month. No actions are required of schools but the proposed legislation would celebrate educators, schools and community leaders doing this work.
Seclusion & Restraint in Vermont Schools: Efforts should be continued to ensure enforcement and to get appropriate, comprehensive rules or legislation promoting Positive Behavior Supports in Schools, and limiting Restrictive Behavioral Interventions.
State Education Agency (SEA): The legislature should monitor the transition from a “commissioner level” department of education to its new agency status. Departments within the new agency that are responsible for the enforcement and implementation of the mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 should be appropriately staffed, supported through the transition, and afforded a significant role within the agency, enabling them to ensure that students with disabilities are fully included in Vermont schools and given appropriate services and supports to achieve their maximum potential. VCDR asks that the Legislature monitor the SEA to ensure that the voices of families and youth with disabilities are included throughout the transition and on an ongoing basis as decisions are made that will ultimately impact them directly.
Common Core Standards: VCDR recommends that the Legislature monitor the State Education Agency (SEA) and Local Education Agencies (LEA’s) during Vermont’s transition to the Common Core Standards in order to insure appropriate planning for the inclusion of students with disabilities, so that they are able to achieve their maximum potential.
Medicaid & Budget
“People First” Budget: VCDR agrees with the “People's Budget Campaign” that people have a right to healthcare, education, housing, and dignified work. Yet our state is cutting necessary public services and public jobs, instead of raising new revenue. We join with them to demand a say in how our state raises and spends our tax dollars. Our leaders should understand and manage to the NEED, rather than simply manage to current revenue.
EPSDT Medicaid: The state should review funding levels for mandated Early, Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services (especially case management and rehabilitative therapies) for Vermont’s Medicaid eligible children.
Family Funding & CSHN Respite: VCDR supports the appropriation of an additional estimated $318,000 over the base budget of approximately $1.03 million for Flexible Family Funding and an estimated $306,000 over the FY12 $295,000 budgeted for the Department of Health/Children with Special Health Needs Respite Program in order to restore the programs to past funding levels, and to bring the programs to parity.
Equity, Parity, and Legal Compliance for Entitlement Services: All children with a legal entitlement to services guaranteed by federal and state law should receive these services at the level and for the duration medically and developmentally necessary. This includes Part C and B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Early, Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) Services under Medicaid. With this intention, VCDR will monitor and assess the following:
- Budget proposals and/or appropriations made to the Department for Children and Families (DCF), Child Development Division (CDD) for Part C services under Children’s Integrated Services (CIS).
- Budget proposals and/or appropriations made to the Agency of Human Services (AHS) that determine access to EPSDT services.
- Proposed rule changes for Part B and Part C of IDEA, in particular, to ensure that any shift of responsibility between agencies and/or departments come with resources appropriate to the associated work.
In addition, we recommend that the state of Vermont:
- Direct Building Bright Futures (BBF) to work with the Agency of Education (DOE) and DCF to explore the implementation of the Birth to Five Option for early intervention and early childhood special education services under IDEA to eliminate transitions and ensure integrated service delivery.
- Assure CIS services and EPSDT services are included in the planning and implementation of Vermont's single payer insurance system.
- Require CIS representation on all Community Health Teams.
- Direct BBF, in conjunction with AOE and DCF, to do an analysis of the staffing needs to assure an adequate and appropriately trained workforce to provide early childhood prevention and early intervention services in accordance with established state and national standards.
Long Term Care & Supports: A realistic level of long term supports must be available to those with serious needs. This includes developmental services, especially those oriented towards transition to adulthood. Most people don’t realize that only about 25% of the people who have developmental disabilities get services. Each year about 100 new people come into the system because of some crisis in their life, like homelessness, the death of a parent, or abuse. And once they come into the system they pretty much need services for the rest of their lives. Services for people with serious mental health issues need to be robust so that, with other people with disabilities, they can have equal access to the opportunity to participate in all aspects of society.
Work Incentives: The administration and the legislature should expand Vermont's work incentive benefits, including expanding eligibility and asset protections in Vermont's Medicaid for Working People with Disabilities Program, to encourage more people with disabilities to participate in the workforce.
SERVICES & NEW INITIATIVES
Support for Peer Initiatives: The state should continue and expand support for Peer initiatives and organizations like Vermont Psychiatric Survivors, Green Mountain Self-Advocates, Another Way Drop-in Center, and Alyssum. These, and projects like the “Soteria House” currently being developed, build on the life experience and wisdom of people with disabilities.
Peer Navigation for Families with Complex Needs: Vermont should reinstate this program in which people with lived experience of complex needs in their OWN families assisted other families to find their way through the complex system of social and economic programs. Formerly federally funded for 6 years (Family Support 360 Project), peer navigation has a documented record of success in supporting more informed choices and positive outcomes for families with children and/or parents with disabilities.
Insurance Coverage for Hearing Aids: Private insurance should be required to provide some reasonable level of coverage for hearing aids.
Van Modification: Funding of approximately $424,000 should be provided to assist families with expenses related to modifying a van or other vehicle to make the vehicle accessible to children whose medical condition requires adaptive equipment and/or a wheelchair.
21st Century Communications: The Administration and/or the Legislature should insure access to a complete electronic communication infrastructure, including unified data/voice/video communication modalities and technologies that utilize location-based and voice transcription services. These services require an infrastructure expansion for wireless and network supported points of entry and coverage.
Affordable and Accessible Housing: VCDR will support efforts to expand Vermont's available stock of affordable and accessible housing. This requires legislative support for increasing the number of appropriate rental and purchase units, and for regulation that prohibits credit scoring bias. These services require an infrastructure expansion for developers, housing authorities, and private landlords.
Transportation: VCDR will support efforts to expand Vermont's public transportation options, including a unified (state-wide) approach to sub-contracting and support for both medical and non-medical needs. This requires legislative support to unify the varied regional contracts and to regulate the criteria for use and public support. These services require an infrastructure and regulatory revision expansion for regional and local transportation providers.
Collective Bargaining Rights for Support Workers & Independent Providers: As the state considers legislation to enable independent providers of home and community based services to form a union, VCDR will work to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are protected and strengthened.
- the right of people with disabilities to hire, direct, supervise or terminate their employees.
- that workers not have the right to strike.
- that budgets must be increased to pay for any additional expenses caused by increases in wages or benefits.
We are advocating for the state to create a council comprised of people receiving services, advocates, providers and government representatives to oversee the process.
VCDR thanks the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council, VCDR members and friends for their contributions and support of our work. For more information about particular bills and other VCDR advocacy activities, or to share your recommendations and concerns, contact us
To Contact VCDR by mail:
11 East State St., Suite 2
Montpelier, VT 05602
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