INDIANAPOLIS — A pair of bills authored by State Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, to help both adults and children with disabilities, were signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb at a ceremony Monday afternoon. Both laws will become effective July 1.
House Enrolled Act 1216 streamlines the application process for First Steps, Indiana’s early intervention program for children 3 and under with developmental delays. In addition, families would be able to make up missed appointments when beneficial to the child. Sen. Chris Garten, R-Charlestown, sponsored the bill in the Senate.
The bill funds First Steps $18 million in both fiscal year 2019 and 2020. This is more than double the amount provided in 2017.
Families who qualify for Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program will be considered eligible for First Steps services, without having to go through additional application processes.
The bill also states the Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services is required to review and revise their policy regarding make-up therapy sessions. Currently, families who miss an appointment must make up the session during the same calendar week.
House Enrolled Act 1488 re-establishes the Task Force for Assessment of Services and Supports for People with Intellectual and Other Developmental Disabilities (also known as the 1102 Task Force). This task force was originally established by HEA 1102 (2017), which Clere authored.
The original task force met through 2018, under the leadership of the lieutenant governor. The task force is being re-established to provide ongoing oversight. Four legislators will serve on the re-established task force – including Clere. The task force will also look at the Order of Selection process, and create a new plan within the next five years to ensure all Hoosiers with intellectual or developmental disabilities receive services/resources. Currently, some can be put on a waitlist. Sen. Ron Grooms [R-Jeffersonville] sponsored the bill in the Senate.
The Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services will develop a plan to establish a statewide crisis assistance system for Hoosiers with developmental disabilities. This will help provide families with services and resources during times of crises, instead of involving police or other outside groups that may not be appropriately trained to handle these situations.
“First Steps is a critical program for infants born with developmental disabilities or delays. We are very grateful for Rep Clere’s support of the program and determination to make sure infants get the services they need to meet their developmental milestones,” said Kim Dodson, executive director of the Arc of Indiana, in a news release. “HEA 1488 Is critical in the accountability and implementation of the 1102 Task Force report and recommendations. With the addition of legislators on the task force we can use time to educate legislators and gain momentum on those issues that will need legislative attention."