APD Uses Record Investments in 2022 to Continue to Better Serve Floridians with Disabilities

Press release from Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This year, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) served more than 58,000 Floridians with disabilities, nearly 3,000 more individuals than last year. Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis’ steadfast commitment to the health and safety of all Floridians, individuals with disabilities have the ability to live, work, and play in the communities they choose. This year record investments were made in the Agency to continue to offer better services to more Floridians.

Director Barbara Palmer said, “The Agency for Persons with Disabilities has been able to achieve noteworthy accomplishments in 2022. I thank Governor DeSantis for his strong leadership in support of individuals with developmental disabilities. The dedication of our outstanding employees, Waiver Support Coordinators, providers, and stakeholders contributes to the success of our mission. We continue to serve the needs of vulnerable Floridians and are always looking for more opportunities to help them to achieve their goals.”

The Agency’s 2022 accomplishments include:

Historic Funding to Serve Floridians with Disabilities

  • For the first time ever, APD received a record budget totaling more than $2 billion, key appropriations include:
  • $403 million for Direct Support Professionals caring for individuals with disabilities. 
  • $59.6 million to provide waiver services to APD clients on the iBudget Florida waiver waiting list.
  • $8.5 million to procure a contract for a statewide dental service program.
  • In October, APD funded provider rate increases for Direct Support Professionals. Rate increases included:
    • 73 percent for Companion services;
    • 45 percent for Respite services;
    • 41 percent for Personal Supports services;
    • 25 percent for Residential Habilitation services; and 
    • 23 percent for Adult Day Training services. 

Since 2018, Governor DeSantis has continued to approve more funding to enroll individuals on the iBudget waiver, totaling 5825 through November 2022.

Successful Partnerships with Businesses to Support Individuals with Disabilities in Finding Independence Through the Workforce

·         Through the Agency’s Employment Enhancement Project, Floridians with disabilities, 2236 individuals have been able to find meaningful employment since 2018.

·         In October, the Agency honored 12 businesses from around the state as part of Disability Employment Awareness Month.

·         These businesses are committed to hiring and retaining employees with disabilities and joined Director Palmer in Tallahassee at the 17th annual Disability Employment Awareness Month Celebration and Exceptional Employer Awards

Businesses include:

  • Beck Automotive Group of Palatka
  • City of Cape Coral
  • Clearwater Marine Aquarium
  • Hilton Garden Inn Fort Walton Beach
  • Kohl’s Tallahassee
  • Lighthouse Works, Inc. of Orlando
  • Pinecrest Bakery of Miami
  • Pitney Bowes, Inc. of Jacksonville
  • Rise & Nye’s of Sarasota
  • Stenner Pump Company of Jacksonville
  • Winslow LifeRaft Company of Lake Suzy
  • Xtreme Action Park of Ft. Lauderdale

Partnering with Organizations Across the State Serving Floridians with Disabilities

  • This year, APD received the prestigious Eunice Kennedy Shriver Award from Special Olympics Florida at its 50th Anniversary Gala. The award honors the hard work and dedication of outstanding APD employees and their commitment to Special Olympics athletes.
  • Between January and November, the APD representatives answered more than 13,011 calls from APD customers, families, providers, and residents – providing personalized service to help individuals find solutions and resources.
  • The Agency implemented operational procedures to the iBudget Florida program to serve Floridians more efficiently, including:
    • Centralizing medical necessity determinations for requested services made through the Significant Additional Needs process.
    • Ensuring all Waiver Support Coordinators, who provide services to individuals on the iBudget Florida waiver are employed by a Qualified Organization and go through a competency-based pre-service training.
    • Clarifying requirements for provider usage of the APD iConnect system when billing for services.

·         In April, the Orlando Magic partnered with APD to host the inaugural Orlando Magic ASL/Disability Inclusion Night at the Amway Center in Orlando. Individuals with unique abilities attended the jam-packed event to watch the Magic play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Attendees received special recognition and took photos on the court.

·         Annually, APD participates in the Family Café in Orlando, Florida, where Governor DeSantis recognizes individuals with disabilities during the Governor’s Summit on Disabilities. Throughout the event, attendees were able to visit APD’s information booth and attend various workshops about APD services where they could ask questions and get information about services.