Testimony of Matt Hickey on LD29 and LD30

Testimony before the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services in support of LD29, An Act to Provide Support Services to Adults with Intellectual Disabilities or Autistic Disorders and LD30, An Act to Provide Home and Community Services for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities or Autism. Both LD 29 and LD 30 were approved by the legislature and will now be considered for enactment in the 2014-2015 Biennial Budget.

February 5, 2013

Senator Craven, Representative Farnsworth, members of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services. My name is Matt Hickey and I am the Senior Director of Residential Services for Goodwill Industries of Northern New England. I am here today to testify in support of LD29, An Act to Provide Support Services to Adults with Intellectual Disabilities or Autistic Disorders and LD30, An Act to Provide Home and Community Services for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities or Autism.

In my role at Goodwill, I have seen, first hand, the importance of addressing the needs of our neighbors with disabilities who require an array of support services. Whether in the form of a safe home or a fully integrated community based program, both Sections 21 and 29 funding enhance the quality of lives for all people in Maine.

Last year at Goodwill, with the assistance of these two funding streams, we were able to serve 94 people through our residential programs and 162 people through our community based programs. But, that’s only the start. Because of Sections 21 and 29 funding, families of those we serve are able to live their lives knowing that their loved ones are living productive, healthy and happy lives, too. That piece of mind – that security – provides families the opportunity to live more independently. Working. Volunteering. While supporting their family system.

As you know, over 779 individuals are currently on the waitlist for Section 21 funding. Of that population, 172 people are “level one” candidates. These men and women are living in unstable, unsafe situations and need assistance, now. Each year, as parents and caregivers continue to age while individuals’ needs remain unmet, the situations worsen. Adult Protective Services is often involved due to the level of risk that exists within that living situation.

Additionally, 442 people with disabilities are waiting for Section 29 funding. This funding helps to increase people’s ability to work and enhance their community involvement. Both LD 29 and LD 30 will help to improve these situations.

I want to emphasize one particular point I made earlier: this issue goes beyond the person who is in need of Section 21 or 29 support. These two funding streams play a critical part within family systems of those needing services. We have heard stories upon stories of parents who have children with disabilities, and after these children graduate from high school, there is little to no support available. We also know about parents quitting their jobs to take care of their adult children. This is not uncommon. Parents are caught. And, it’s not only bad for the family, it’s bad for the economy. As time rolls on, the stress levels within these families grow, leading to a crisis situation and the need for more expensive, invasive strategies for intervention becomes inevitable.

I ask that you please consider the long term outcomes that will be realized for all Maine citizens with the passage of these two very important bills.

I would like to thank Senator Flood, and all of the co-sponsors, for sponsoring these two important bills.
Thank you for your time and consideration.