OLYMPIA — Washingtonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities would have better options for community residential settings, under a bill passed unanimously today by the Senate.
“This bill is the product of intensive negotiations by all parties over more than three years,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), the bill’s sponsor. “This is a balanced approach to transitioning developmental disabilities services from a residentially-based approach toward one that is community based. It retains the expertise and services for clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities who need crisis stabilization or intensive nursing services.”
SB 5268 is a bipartisan plan to enact the transition over a period of years and to provide more community-based services for intellectually and developmentally disabled Washingtonians.
The bill would implement many of the recommendations in a report by the Ruckelshaus Center at Washington State University.
It would direct the state Department of Social and Health Services to examine the need for community respite beds and crisis stabilization services, study Medicaid rates for contracted community residential service providers, develop quality metrics for community residential and residential habilitation centers, coordinate services across systems, and establish a staffing plan of one case manager per 35 clients.
It would also require caseload forecasting and budgeting for the number of individuals requesting supported living, services provided through the Core, Individual and Family Services and Basic Plus Waivers, and the number of individuals expected to reside in state-operated living alternatives.
This is the second major bill passed by the Senate this legislative session to improve the state’s approach to people with developmental disabilities. Earlier the Senate passed SB 5284, sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), which would eliminate subminimum wage certificates for people with disabilities. The bill would end the practice of paying people with disabilities less than the standard minimum wage.
SB 5268 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration. It has until April 11 to be approved by the House to be eligible to become law this year.
The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 25.