Governor McDonnell Releases Proposed Budget


On December 16, Governor McDonnell released his proposed state budget for 2014-2016. The state budget includes adjustment in the current Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) budget (the so-called “caboose” budget). It also includes the next biennium budget covering Fiscal Year 2015 (July 2014-June 2015) and Fiscal Year 2016 (July 2015-June 2016).  The state budget is very important because it determines the number of Virginians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who will gain access to essential long-term services and supports over the next 30 months. It will also determine the types of services and supports that will be available to people with I/DD, as well as the quality of those services and supports.

While the Governor’s proposed budget provides the additional I/DD waiver slots called for in the Commonwealth’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ),  the budget does not provide sufficient funds to address the growing backlog in unmet needs among the I/DD population and achieve the long-range goal of the settlement agreement  ie., ensuring that all Virginians with I/DD, regardless of the complexity of their support needs, can receive the services and supports they need in the most integrated settings possible.  Under the proposed budget, the waiting list for I/DD services- currently approaching 8,000- will increase by an additional 1,500 people by the end of the next biennium (i.e., by June 30, 2016).

The initial set of recommendations from the waiver redesign study has not been released.  While The Arc of Virginia is hopeful that the study will result in a variety of badly needed changes in waiver program and policies, it is important to point out that these changes will not be fully implemented until Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16).   In the meantime, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities will continue to face many of the same barriers to community integration as they do at present.

To make matter worse, Virginia has yet to adopt a unified approach to administering I/DD services.  Examples of the inadequacies in the current approach include:

  • The budget does not include a commitment to reinvesting cost savings associated with the phase down and eventual closure of state-operated training center closures in enhancing statewide capacity to serve individuals with I/DD in home and community-based settings.
  • Accountability for overseeing key components of I/DD services continues to be divided between the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) and the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS).  Competing interagency priorities leads to inconsistent decision making and delays that thwart progress in implementing the DOJ settlement agreement and related I/DD system reforms.
  • The proposed budget language suggests that the Commonwealth intends to press forward with enrolling long-term services and supports for all Medicaid recipients-including all public and private ICF/IDD residents and all participants in I/DD wavier programs- into Medicaid managed care plan operated by private, profit-making companies beginning in FY 2016.
  • There has been little budget transparency and minimal stakeholder engagement with the respect to the development of I/DD Waiver programs and policies.

These are big issues and they require immediate attention. In response to the Governor’s proposed budget, The Arc of Virginia is in the process of finalizing its legislative priorities for the upcoming session of the General Assembly.  The general aim will be to advance community integration for all Virginians with intellectual and developmental disabilities and facilitate compliance with the terms of the DOJ settlement agreement.  This is an important time for Virginia.  If we fail to achieve the types of system reforms called for in the agreement, we may not get another chance in the years ahead.

We are urging the Commonwealth to uphold its commitments to eliminating the waiting list for I/DD services and to helping people with I/DD live in the most integrated settings.     To accomplish this goal, however, we will need your help.   A series of action alerts will follow in coming weeks, letting you know how you can help improve services and supports for people with I/DD and make the vision of “A Life Like Yours” a reality. The first “Call to Action” is to make sure that we speak out and have a strong presence at the regional budget hearings on January 3rd.   More information about this important advocacy event will follow later this week.

For a detailed summary of Governor McDonnell’s Proposed Budget Bill, click here.

As always, thank you for your advocacy.

-The Arc of Virginia



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.