Regional Budget Hearings

The Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee have announced the dates and locations of the Regional Budget Hearings.   This is a very important advocacy event.  The money committees hold these hearings to hear from the public about what the Commonwealth’s budget priorities should be.  PLEASE ATTEND ONE OF THESE HEARINGS TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR I/DD FUNDING!  Hearings will be held on  Friday, January 3 in Hampton, Harrisonburg, Fairfax, Blacksburg and Richmond.  Click here for the public notice with more information about times and locations. (Notice of 2014 Budget Hearings)

DBHDS Announces New Assistant Commissioner for Developmental Services


The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) has announced that Mr. Connie Cochran will be the new Assistant Commissioner for Developmental Services.  Commissioner Stewart’s memo naming the new Assistant Commissioner can be found below.  The Arc of Virginia welcomes Mr. Cochran  and we look forward to working with him in his  new role.


From:                   James W. Stewart, IIII  DBHDS Commissioner

Subject:                New DBHDS Assistant Commissioner for Developmental Services

Date:                    November 12, 2013

I am pleased to announce that Mr. Connie Cochran will be joining the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) as the new assistant commissioner for developmental services.

Connie has extensive experience serving individuals with developmental disabilities.  For nearly 20 years, he has been the chief executive officer of Easter Seals UCP North Carolina and Virginia.  This organization provides mental health and developmental services to over 20,000 individuals and their families in communities throughout North Carolina and Virginia.  During his time at Easter Seals, Connie oversaw program and training development, fundraising, advocacy, volunteer engagement, and strategic planning.  Previously, Connie led two chapters of The Arc (Albemarle, NC and Charlottesville, VA).  He also served on the national level for the board of the Council for Quality Leadership (CQL) and as the interim executive of United Cerebral Palsy Associations. His professional experience will complement and boost the Developmental Services Division’s efforts.

A native of Virginia, Connie earned his undergraduate degree in Special Education from the University of Virginia and his master’s degree in educational administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.

I’m confident Connie will build on our current work, particularly implementing Virginia’s settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, while seeking new opportunities to improve our services.  He will begin working at DBHDS on December 16.  Please join me in welcoming him to our team.


New DMAS Memo re: Screening for EDCD Waiver


In October of last year, the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) issued guidelines for screening teams to assist in screening children, including children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), for services.  The memo included information regarding screening children with I/DD for the  Elderly or Disabled with Consumer Directed (EDCD) Waiver.  Click here for a copy of the DMAS Oct. 2012 memo.

DMAS continued to meet with advocates about the EDCD Waiver screening process.  Last week, DMAS published a new memo that contains important clarifications regarding the pre-admission screening process, which includes screening individuals with I/DD for the Elderly and Disabled with Consumer Direction (EDCD) waiver.    We are hopeful that this memo will resolve many of the issues that have been raised by individuals and families.

The memo reiterates that the individual does not need to seek admission into a nursing home in order to be considered “at risk” of nursing home placement.  The memo clarifies that an individual is “at risk” of nursing home placement if he/she has medical needs that cannot be met at home and the individual has certification from his/her doctor that this is the case.  Another important item noted in the memo is the reminder that “it is not appropriate to instruct individuals, their families, or advocates to apply for financial
eligibility coverage for Medicaid as a requirement for pre-admission screening.”     To read the full DMAS Oct 2013 memo, click here.





“Bridge Funding” Announcement

At a presentation to the Senate Finance Committee on October 17, DBHDS announced that it would be providing $3.2 million in “bridge funding” to help individuals move from the Northern Virginia Training Center and Southside Virginia Training Center to community-based settings. The Commissioner stated that these funds would be used to support providers in the provision of 24-hour nursing, 24-hour behavioral supports, environmental modifications, assistive technology, durable medical equipment and room and board.

The Commissioner also provided a budget spreadsheet of expenditures and cost savings related to the DOJ Settlement Agreement for FY12-FY21.

Action Needed to Address Early Intervention Budget Shortfall

Infants and toddlers with developmental delays and their families rely on early intervention supports and therapy services to increase family/community participation and enhance the child’s development. Timely access to these services is an entitlement under the IDEA Part C program.

Since 2007, there has been a 52% increase in the number of children needing early intervention services in Virginia. Unfortunately, funding has not kept pace with the growing demand for services and this has led to a budget shortfall in early intervention services. While some funding was provided in the last legislative session, it did not eliminate the budget shortfall.

Without additional funding, these children and families are at risk of not receiving appropriate services in a timely manner or being placed on waiting lists to receive early intervention services. Some local lead agencies are even deciding that they will no longer continue to provide these services if additional funding is not received.

Help Infants and Toddlers Get the Help they Need:

Click here to ask your elected officials to support additional state funding to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with developmental delays.

I/DD Legislative Forums

In an effort to advance inclusion and community-integration for Virginians with I/DD across the Commonwealth, local chapters of The Arc of Virginia have been hosting “I/DD Legislative Forums.” The forums help provide a chance for members of The Arc to discuss I/DD policy issues with state legislators and candidates for public office. The forums have focused on important topics such as help for people on the I/DD Waiver waiting lists, redesign of the I/DD Waiver program, closure of state-operated institutions, managed care, inclusive education, transportation, supported decision-making and early intervention.

On September 10,  Delegate Steve Landes, Senator Emmett Hanger, Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell, Delegate Tony Wilt, and a representative of the Obenshain campaign spent more than two hours meeting with people with I/DD, family members, professionals and advocates at the Valley forum hosted by The Arc of Augusta and The Arc of Harrisonburg and Rockingham. On October 23, Delegate Chris Peace, Senator Ryan McDougle, a representative of the Cuccinelli campaign and candidates for the 55th House District participated in a “standing room only” forum hosted by Hanover Arc. Both forums provided a great dialogue about important issues during a very historic time in Virginia. Many thanks to all who attended!

The next upcoming forum will be held by The Arc South of the James from 6pm – 8pm on Tuesday, November 12 at John Tyler Community College in Chester. More information about other upcoming forums will be posted on The Arc of Virginia’s Facebook page.