Florida’s Governor Scott Includes People With Disabilities To Make Florida First!

By Sunrise Group on March 11, 2016

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Self-Advocate, Grant Williams, from UCP LifeLinks awards Governor Rick Scott Sunrise’s 2016 Appreciation plaque for his commitment to people with intellectual and physical disabilities

On Thursday, March 10, 2016, self-advocates and staff from Sunrise operations in Tallahassee made their way to the Capitol to award appreciation plaques to the Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the House and other key legislative champions that worked to include Floridians of all abilities in this year’s record $8.2 Billion State Budget. Florida’s House and Senate put together a spending plan for this year that increases the state budget by roughly 5 percent. This includes $9,687,008 for critical services were allocated from recurring General Revenue. This means that $25 million will be used to help ensure that people with intellectual and physical disabilities may access community based services in the most person-centered and cost-effective manner possible.

From left to right, Sarah Whittington, Jeremiah Johnson, Grant Williams and Shareka Frazier

Sunrise was represented at the appreciation awards by self-advocates from UCP Tallahassee’s LifeLinks program, Jeremiah Johnson and Grant Williams. UCP LifeLinks Program Coordinator, Sarah Whittington, and Direct Support Associate, Shareka Frazier accompanied the self-advocates as they met with Florida’s legislative leaders to thank them for their support of people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Les Leech, President & CEO, stated that “Sunrise was please to see the Florida Legislature recognize the right of every Floridian to live valued lives in the community. We believe that Gardiner, Crisafulli, Lee and Corcoran took a fiscally responsible stance to protect the state’s most vulnerable, people with intellectual disabilities and we are grateful for their hard work.”

Senate President Andy Gardiner receives award from Sunrise Self-Advocates on Thursday, March 10, 2016.

In total, the State Budget provides supplemental funding for iBudget rates including the Agency for Persons with Disabilities’ (APD) Adult Day Training at a rate of 1:3 for minimum wage compliance as well as a 3% across-the-board increase for community based adult day services. This is a critical service that allows many families to continue working while a relative or loved one with intellectual challenges receives pre-vocational training during the day. Personal Support Services and Residential Habilitation also received a 3% increase. Self-advocates who are the direct beneficiaries of the funding proudly presented an appreciation award to Governor Rick Scott and thanked him for his continued efforts on behalf of Floridians of all abilities. Governor Scott has a history of taking time to meet with self-advocates from Sunrise and Sunrise self-advocates are active in a number of area Family Care Councils around the state. They work to educate leaders and the public about developmental and acquired disabilities. The mission of the Family Care Council Florida (FCCF) is to advocate, educate, and empower individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, partnering with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), to bring quality services to individuals for dignity and choice. The 2016-17 State Budget will help to fulfill this mission and promote dignity and choices for people with intellectual and physical challenges.

Sunrise Group is grateful to Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Legislature (especially Leadership) and all advocates that worked tirelessly this Session to protect Floridians of all abilities in Tallahassee!

On behalf of those we serve and the greater disabilities community, THANK YOU FLORIDA!