The Minnesota legislative session begins on Monday, January 31st. Our Public Policy team is hard at work preparing for the upcoming session. Alongside people with disabilities, self-advocates, parents and family members, coalition partners, and other allies, we advance policy solutions that create positive systems and social change. Together, we established a broad set of public policy goals for the 2022 legislative session.
The Arc Minnesota’s 2022 Legislative Agenda
Create More Inclusive Playgrounds for Minnesota Children
Most playgrounds in Minnesota are not accessible to, nor safe for, children who have disabilities. Play is a critical part of development for kids of all ages, and children with disabilities should have access to playgrounds, just like all other kids in our communities. Playgrounds that are inclusive of all types of disabilities would help to ensure that no one is left out and all children play safely side-by-side. They would support the developmental needs of the whole child, including physical, cognitive, sensory, and social development.
Investing in bonding projects that help build safe, inclusive playgrounds across Minnesota will result in long-term, positive benefits for all children, and help children with disabilities foster true belonging in community from an early age. End Suspensions and Expulsions for Young Learners
Wide disparities exist in Minnesota schools’ use of exclusionary punishment, which contribute to poor student outcomes. Research shows that frequent use of dismissals harms all students, including those not subject to punishment, but especially impacts students of color and those with disabilities. They are suspended and expelled at rates far higher than their white and non-disabled peers. Our schools are the foundation of our collective knowledge and community as a society, and all children deserve to learn in an inclusive environment that supports them, without fear of discrimination and harm.
Ending suspensions and expulsions for K-3 will help create equitable, accessible, and safe schools. All students will benefit from positive learning environments that fully include all students, support them, and address their individual needs. Ending suspensions and expulsions for Minnesota’s young learners will help promote alternatives that create a supportive and positive climate for all students and school staff. Expand Access to Inclusive Higher Education Statewide
Attending college at an inclusive higher education institution has many positive impacts on young adults with intellectual disabilities (ID). Those who attend college are more than twice as likely to secure employment and rely less on government programs and services. But in-state college options for students with ID are extremely limited, which stifles opportunities for those who could benefit. Many institutions of higher education do not have the expertise nor resources needed to expand enrollment and include students with ID on-campus.
Expanding access to inclusive higher education will help more young adults with ID earn meaningful credentials, secure employment at competitive wages, and live in homes of their own. Providing technical assistance and grant funding to institutions of higher education statewide can help advance access to postsecondary education in Minnesota. Reform Medical Assistance to Incentivize Employment
Some Minnesotans with disabilities have been able to maintain safety-net supports while working through Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD). However, both the high MA-EPD premiums and low asset limits contribute to people remaining in poverty and create disincentives to work. People who have disabilities should be able to earn money, build and keep assets, and invest in their futures without fear of losing health care, benefits, supports, and services.
Eliminating asset limits, shifting the income-based premium schedule to a fair structure, and providing more opportunities to maintain benefits will remove barriers to building and maintaining financial stability, and help people with disabilities to get out of poverty. This will impact all of society, because once all people are able to earn money and financially prosper, everyone will benefit. Increase Affordable, Accessible Housing Options
For people who have disabilities—especially those using a wheelchair—finding affordable, accessible housing in their communities is nearly impossible. Many are forced to turn to costly and isolating settings, instead of living in homes of their own. Housing developers and builders need more clarity around a shared definition of accessibility, as well as financial support to ensure they can include physically and sensory accessible dwellings in housing projects.
Creating a shared definition of accessible housing will provide clarity for developers, builders, and people with disabilities. Ensuring that bonding requests for housing projects include physical and sensory accessibility features will support builders and developers to create more inclusive homes. More affordable, accessible housing for Minnesotans with disabilities will support their informed choice and reduce reliance on restrictive and expensive provider-controlled settings. Help More Minnesotans with Disabilities Live in Homes of their Own
While supporting people to live in their own homes is the policy direction of the state, this is not yet a reality for many Minnesotans. Informed Choice policies adopted in 2021 will help ensure that people are aware of the options for living in their own home, but those changes alone will not remove all the barriers that are currently in place.
Strategic policy change can help more Minnesotans with disabilities live in homes of their own. We must address gaps in support and service coordination, prevent evictions and service terminations, and stabilize housing for those with low income.
The Arc Participates in Child Care Rally at U.S. Capitol
On December 14, The Arc participated in a Child Care for Every Family Rally at the Capitol to support the passage of the Build Back Better Act, to ensure that every child, including children with disabilities, have access to high-quality childcare and that child care providers can earn a living wage. You can watch a recording of the rally here.
The MCD 2022 Virtual Legislative Forum is an opportunity for the disability community to share what they want the Legislature to accomplish in this session. It is also an opportunity for legislators to share how they plan to promote this legislative agenda.
Share your ideas and concerns with state Senators and members of the state House of Representatives who are committed to disability rights and inclusion.
We will provide CART and ASL. Contact Trevor Turner at 651-350-8642 (phone or text message) oremail Trevorto request additional accommodations. We will do our best to accommodate all requests, even with short notice.
Webinar: The landscape of telehealth in Minnesota for disability and behavioral health services
Tuesday, January 18, 2022 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Presented by: Minnesota Department of Human Services
You’re invited to attend a webinar about telehealth for disability and behavioral health services on Jan. 18, 2022. This webinar will be hosted by DHS, University of Minnesota TeleOutreach Center and Great Plains Telehealth Resource & Assistance Center.
In this webinar, we will:
Describe the current status of telehealth use in disability services and behavioral health services, including what utilization trends have occurred
Discuss current research findings related to telehealth in these fields
Share tips and ideas for service providers
Discuss anticipated future directions for the use of telehealth in Minnesota.
The event will be held over Zoom and MHP will publish the link as the date nears.
In advance of the 2022 Legislative Session, join the MHP Investors Council as lawmakers discuss prospects for housing in the 2022 legislative session. Hear directly from lawmakers about their caucus, committee, and personal priorities and how housing fits into their overall session goals.
Health Care Month highlights employment opportunities in health care
On Dec. 27, 2021, Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed January 2022 as Health Care Month. DHS, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and other state agencies will highlight the need to fill a variety of open positions in health care-related fields during the month.
Right now, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and community-based service providers that serve people with disabilities and seniors have a large number of positions they need filled. Staffing shortages include direct support professionals who help people with disabilities to live independently. The overwhelming demands of COVID-19 on health care fields has only increased the urgency to fill these positions.
2022 Age & Disabilities Odyssey in-person conference canceled
The Odyssey conference committee has made the decision to cancel the 2022 in-person conference. Although we looked forward to coming together again this summer, the consistently high number of COVID-19 cases in the community pose too many uncertainties.
We will host two free Odyssey webinars in late spring/early summer instead. We will announce details for these webinars in early 2022.
This change in format also will allow Odyssey staff to pause and reevaluate what Odyssey will look like in the future.
DHS has held the Odyssey conference either yearly or every other year since 1998. It generally attracts thousands of attendees including:
Lead agencies including counties, tribal nations, and managed care organizations
People who access services
Policy makers including state government representatives
Other news from Minnesota Department of Human Services: