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Governor proposes new community-based human services investments

Contact: Bill Yelenak
Phone: 617-428-3637 x122 (office) | 860-919-0369 (cell)

BOSTON – Governor Patrick unveiled his FY ’15 House 2 budget proposal on Wednesday afternoon, calling for major investments in human services, including an additional $162 million for community residential services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

The spending plan also calls for significant increases in community day and work programs and transportation services in the Department of Developmental Services; turning 22 programs and services in the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind; and head injury treatment services in the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. The budget also includes $25.2 million as a Chapter 257 Reserve, which will fund human services programs that are subject to the landmark rate-setting legislation passed in 2008.

“In our initial review, we are pleased to see Governor Patrick make significant investments in reforming human services purchasing in the House 2 budget. In support of Chapter 257 and the human need, we will encourage these welcomed investments in other sorely needed areas to serve our most vulnerable residents,” said Providers’ Council President & CEO Michael Weekes. “We’re further encouraged to read that the administration is addressing the low-paid human service employees working under contracts that have not yet been adjusted by including $7 million in the budget as part of its commitment to salary equity.”

In addition to those funding increases, the administration is also proposing $15 million to implement “Raise the Age“ legislation that Governor Patrick signed in 2013. The bill changes juvenile jurisdiction laws to support the rehabilitation of young people through age 18; the Council and other community-based human services organizations strongly supported the legislation last year. Numerous increases are also planned for the Department of Children & Families, including 5.6 percent in services for children and families, 3.8 percent in congregate care services, 4.2 percent in social workers for case management and 1.3 percent in support services for people at risk of domestic violence.

While the message in the budget is mostly positive, there is still some cause for concern among human services programs. The administration proposed small increases for some Department of Mental Health line items that lag behind DMH and Administration & Finance’s proposed maintenance amounts, including Child and Adolescent Services and Adult Mental Health and Support Services. The lower amounts mean children, families and adults could lose services if additional funding is not added. The Council will continue to review the budget for other areas of interest.

The Providers' Council, also known as the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, Inc., is the largest statewide membership association for community-based organizations providing social, rehabilitation, education and health care services.