More than 200 people joined ADDP's virtual Legislative Budget Forum on February 3, 2021, notably various Massachusetts state representatives and senators and their staff, as well as the special guest speakers from the Berkshire County Arc and People Inc.
The forum, traditionally held as an annual, in-person legislative luncheon at the Massachusetts State House, was held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Kay Khan, Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, provided opening remarks. Sen. Michael Rodrigues, Chair of Senate Ways and Means, was recognized as the Association's Legislator of the Year for his support and advocacy efforts. Over the years, Sen. Rodrigues has sponsored many ADDP amendments and was an original sponsor of the landmark Chapter 257 legislation which provided financial stability and predictability to ADDP members while being a champion of Family Supports and DESE.
"This past budget year, he worked with the Senate to support health care, transportation, and education line items," said Dr. Christopher White, chair of the ADDP Board of Directors and President/CEO of Road to Responsibility, an ADDP member agency. "He sponsored SB2844 to create higher education opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Autism, and other developmental disabilities."
For his efforts, Sen. Rodrigues was presented a painting created by Tony Sadlowski, who has been working at Riverside Industries of Easthampton, MA , an ADDP member.
Rep. Khan and Sen. Rodrigues shared their insights related to the FY'22 budget and heard ADDP's FY'22 budget priorities. The Association is requesting a $15 million increase above the Governor's House One recommendation in the DDS Community Day/Work Program line item, as well as a $7 million increase in DDS Transportation line item to address the needs of a redesigned day services system.
The legislators also heard from: Megan Stirk, President/CEO of People Inc based in Fall River.; Ken Singer, President/CEO of the Berkshire County Arc; Toni Miller, a BCARC site manager, and John Chapdelaine, an individual served by BCARC. All spoke about their experiences and lessons learned working and living in the human service community during COVID-19.
"There have been many lessons learned but the one that stands out for me is the resilience of the human service sector - beginning with its leadership, its staff and the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and brain injuries that we support," said Ellen Attaliades, ADDP President/CEO. "The most important lesson I’ve learned this year is, that despite very trying times, our members will turn on a dime to ensure that the individuals that receive their services and the staff who provide these services, are supported, safe and healthy."
A recording of this event is available HERE.