BPDD serves as an independent advisor to the Governor and legislature on public policy issues that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Find out more about each issue below.
- Provide free online training to family and volunteer guardians about the role, responsibilities, and other important features of Wisconsin’s guardianship law before they are appointed.
- Ensure the centralized statewide abuse report hotline can expand to include help for adults with disabilities
- Change Adult Protective Services statutes so the same level of investigation is required for reports of abuse and neglect against people with disabilities. Currently reports must be investigated if the potential victim is an older adult, and they may be investigated if the potential victim is a person with a disability. The law should take abuse and neglect equally seriously for both groups.
- Create state council focused on improving prevention and response to abuse and neglect of people with disabilities.
- Improve Law enforcement officers’ ability to identify behaviors associated with disability and successfully engage with people with disabilities—especially people with non-visible disabilities (autistic, serious persistent mental illness, deaf, cognitive decline due to brain degeneration, etc.) and non-standard communication
- Invest in broadband infrastructure so people with disabilities can take remote work opportunities no matter where they live.
- Create positions to continue the proven PROMISE Family Navigator approach that got young people into the workforce and onto a path of lifelong employment rather than a lifetime of poverty.
- Direct the Department of Financial Institutions to prepare a report to the legislature that explores the advantages contracting with another states’ ABLE program or establish a Wisconsin ABLE program for Wisconsin residents.
- Reform State Use program. Remove requirement that grantees be licensed to pay sub-minimum wage so private sector businesses can apply, require State Use Contractors to pay employees at least minimum wage, ensure employees funded with State Use Contract dollars are being hired in community jobs, remove requirement for state agencies to purchase from State Use contractors and allow them to purchase from lowest cost source.
- Provide funding and direct DHS to develop a One-Time Provider Transformation Fund to support upto 30 employment service providers in the state’s long-term care system with a grant of $25,000 to $150,000. The need to support Wisconsin’s provider network during the pandemic has never been greater, as are the needs for supports by people with disabilities. Providers would be selected through a competitive process and must meet sustainable, measurable outcomes that move people who have shown an interest in working in integrated employment into competitive-wage community jobs.
Home and Community Based Long-Term Care
- Caregiving. People with disabilities rely on family caregivers and quality home health and personal care workers to live independently. Workers need to be paid more and need job benefits–healthcare, paid sick leave, retirement, childcare, commuter benefits–to compensate and recognize their essential work. Adopt the recommendations in Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving report in the next state budget.
- Living in the community, not institutions. COVID-19 has demonstrated moving away from congregant living and service delivery will keep people safer and healthier; it is also more cost-effective. People want to live and remain in their own homes, not nursing homes. The legislature should prioritize investing in the services and supports provided by Family Care and IRIS long term care programs to keep people in their homes, help individuals reach their full potential, and help the state avoid costly increases in Medicaid costs paid to institutional settings.
- Internet Access. The pandemic has shown how critical the internet and devices that access it are to keep connected to the community. Reliable connection to the internet has become an essential part of daily life to conduct routine personal business–many employment opportunities, government services, and businesses are online. Many Family Care and IRIS participants benefit from virtual Telehealth, psychology and other specialty consults, Long Term Care Virtual Services, virtual meetings with care teams, but only if they have reliable and robust internet access.
- Dental Care. Too few accessible and sedation dentistry locations and too few dentists taking Medicaid patients means many people with disabilities have no access to routine preventative care and experience long delays even when there is a dental emergency. We need more places to go and more people to provide preventative and specialized care.
- Evaluate consolidation of State Centers for the Developmentally Disabled. Seventeen states have closed all state-run institutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The people living in intuitions are aging–the last long-term admission to a Wisconsin institution was in 1982—and just over 300 people remain in Wisconsin’s three remaining State Centers. It is time to move past an outdated institutional model that is demonstrably damaging to individuals and financial unsustainable for states. With so few residents spread between these costly institutions, it is time for Wisconsin to begin the evaluation and planning process to retire Northern Wisconsin Center (12 residents) and Southern Wisconsin Center (114 residents).
- Wisconsin’s transportation investments and regional/local planning should be designed to serve the significant population of non-drivers. About 22% of Wisconsin residents age 5 and older (1.2M people) are estimated to be non-drivers, and another 15% of households are estimated to live in car deficient households where there are more drivers than cars available.
- Direct DOT and provide funding for development of Projective modeling tools for regional/local planning, project, and local government leaders to assess their non-driver population in communities and outlying areas likely to access regional/community destinations. This can help planners ensure workplaces, government services, and residential locations are accessible to non-drivers.
- Local governments need incentives and funding to create robust regional transportation that can get people where they need to go on their schedule. For many people with disabilities and older adults, jobs, hospitals and clinics, businesses, service centers for county and state government agencies, and polling places are out of reach because transportation options stop at the city or county line.
a. Create statutory language and dedicated segregated appropriations to incentivize cities, towns, villages, and counties to create regional transportation networks, and
b. Support statutory authority that would provide local units of government, individually or collaboratively, the ability to raise revenue for transit, infrastructure, and other transportation needs.
- Public Transit is critical infrastructure for moving the workforce to jobs, and more public transit capacity–greater geographic reach, more routes, and more frequent service–is needed. Urban and rural public transportation, paratransit and specialized transportation all need funding increases. Permanent grant funding to assist with replacement or acquisition of new transit vehicles is needed.
- Require state agencies to review their policies and processes that require in-person interaction, assess whether in-person appearances are necessary, and develop alternative ways customers can complete necessary business or documentation remotely, such as by video meeting appointments, phone, or online processes. This can help non-drivers minimize unnecessary trips. For non-drivers, the logistics and time it takes to get transportation to complete everyday tasks is a huge burden.
- Provide state funding to Home and Community Based Long Term Care direct care agencies to purchase and maintain fleet vehicles for their workers. Direct care workers must travel between client homes to help people with disabilities. Lack of transportation options has been identified as one reason workers leave the profession.
- Increase special education categorical aid to bring the reimbursement rate from 30% to 40% with the ultimate goal of reaching 60% state funding for special education over the next several biennia.
- Increase the transition readiness grant to $4.5 million annually to prepare students with disabilities for community employment and independence after high school.
- Increase categorical aid funding to $30 million, and make sure all schools can use the money to cover mental health and student wellness services for students.
- Improve the school accountability system to ensure families can compare educational outcomes, student populations, and educational experiences of students with disabilities across all schools – public, voucher, charter, County Children with Disability Education Boards (CCDEBs).
- The Special Needs Voucher Program should require the same accountability and rights/services required for public schools under IDEA for all voucher students; have special education services that can serve the needs of all students with disabilities who apply; voucher schools should operate a full inclusion model (not segregated); and a comprehensive annual evaluation of educational and employment outcomes for voucher students should be required. The total number of voucher slots should be allocated with geographic equity.
- State funding should not support segregated schools that only have students with disabilities. The four County Children with Disability Education Boards (CCDEBS) operate an outdated segregated model that leads to lower academic achievement and less employment after high school.
While BPDD has a set of Public Policy Priorities, throughout the year we will submit public comments both on the state level and federally. We will update this section as we submit public comment.