29 Oct A Note from Allison: INARF Goes to Washington
I hope you’ve all been enjoying this beautiful autumn! We certainly have here at New Hope.
We’ve been so busy meeting new people this month! Thanks to everyone who was able to join us for our Let’s Get Cheesy event on October 3rd! If you weren’t able to attend, check out the photos. It was great fall event with pumpkin painting, music, games and, of course, mac-n-cheese! We met some new friends and introduced them to New Hope, and we were happy to see some old friends like Indiana State Senator J.D. Ford!
Outside of New Hope, I’m honored to serve on the Board of Directors INARF, the statewide trade association for agencies like New Hope. As a member of the Executive Committee and the Chair of the Government Relations Committee, I was invited to join other industry leaders on a trip to Washington, DC to meet with the delegation and to discuss some of the most pressing legislative issues affecting individuals with disabilities. To of the issues we discussed were:
1. Adding Direct Support Professional (DSP) as a Standard Occupation for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This addition would allow the government to collect more information on DSPs and to ultimately increase wages for DSPs. The entire delegation was helpful in addressing this topic.
2. Preventing block grant funding from becoming a reality. Every legislator that we spoke to agreed that the current Congress is uninterested in block grants and will likely remain uninterested in them as long as there is a divided Congress. This is a win for those we serve, as block grants would equate to a cut in services. One legislative aide that we spoke to actually credited the disabilities advocacy community for stopping block grants in Congress in recent years.
To be clear, New Hope of Indiana, INARF and other organizations like ours are nonpartisan. However, we do support a divided government and seek support from either side of the political aisle for the issues that are most important when it comes to providing the best services and care for individuals with disabilities. Having a divided government slows things down and leaves plenty of room for discussion on these issues.
The INARF Government Relations Committee is currently working on a new agenda for the upcoming State legislative session beginning in January. While DSP wage increases continue to be one of the top priorities on our legislative agenda, the upcoming session is a non-budget year, so no decisions will be made regarding funding.
To continue to share New Hope’s mission with key Indiana legislators, we were happy to host Representative Greg Porter last month for a visit at New Hope. Representative Porter is a huge supporter of New Hope and, in fact, served on our Board for many years. We also had the opportunity to introduce two key legislative aides to the people we serve by touring them through a group home and a supported living home. We were honored to introduce them to those we serve and the issues that they face. There’s something to be said for getting to know the people behind the scenes.
To all of our new friends and acquaintances, thank you for your support! We are looking forward to a great year in 2020. If you’re interested in learning more or joining our advocacy efforts, please feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to talk to you about ways to get involved!
Enjoy the fall before the winter weather makes its way to Indy!