Public Policy: 2017 Legislative Priorities

ARRM Policy Reform Bill

ARRM works to ensure Minnesota's public policy and regulatory environment promotes the independence, health and safety of people with disabilities and strengthens our members' ability to support them. In 2017, ARRM and its members are focused on passing reforms that help address the significant workforce shortages in our industry.

Download the 2017 ARRM Policy Reform Bill Fact Sheet

Support family and friendships

Volunteers, as well as friends and family (known as 'natural supports'), are important supplements to paid staff for supporting people with disabilities. State statue defines these two categories and requires volunteers to complete a background check. However, the definition of 'volunteer' is so broad that people who are friends of the people ARRM members support aren't able to do things like take their friends to the movies or drive them to a doctor appointment without getting a background check.

ARRM will be amending statute relating to volunteers, more clearly defining the term to state only if an agency is soliciting, managing or overseeing the relationships or work, that person would be defined as a volunteer and be required to obtain a background study. This will not only allow staff to work with natural supports to care for people with disabilities but support more natural relationships between friends and families.

In addition, current 245D requirements have eliminated many options for respite services for families caring for a loved one with a disability. For instance, another family member that did not have required training under 245D could not provide care for a weekend to allow the primary caregivers a short vacation. The loss of this kind of respite service and those in other settings puts extreme strain on families and unnecessary bounds on family dynamics and support.

ARRM proposes making the requirements for respite care training and licensing focused on the needs of the individual case. This will allow more individuals and programs to provide respite care.

Promote independent living

As we work to ensure people with disabilities have access to the most independent living options possible, certain policies must be adapted to provide the necessary support. Current licensing and rate structures do not allow for in-home supports provided under certain disability waivers. If providers are not able to be licensed and reimbursed for providing these allowed services, individuals needing these supports to remain in their own home will be left without a resource.

Similarly, the current moratorium on new corporate foster care beds, while positively intended to promote more people moving into independent settings, has the unintended consequence of creating fear for individuals and families that if they do try a more independent setting and it doesn't work out, there won't be any availability for them to return to a corporate foster care setting, which is still more independent than returning home or moving to a more institutional setting.

ARRM will amend statute to expand exceptions to the current new bed moratorium, allowing for creating space for those transitioning from independent living back to a foster care setting, and expand the continuum of services to cover individualized home supports, creating a stronger network of services and safety net for individuals who wish to live on their own.

Improve training quality and efficiency

Robust and up-to-date training is essential to having strong staff to support people with disabilities. Minnesota's current training requirements are based on staff completing a set number of training hours before they begin working with people, and a set number of ongoing training hours. While this works fine for many people, we know that everyone learns and retains information at different rates, and a system solely based on completing a set number of training hours leaves some staff who stay in training long after they are competent in the skills they need, and others may still need a few more hours to feel fully comfortable.

ARRM proposes allowing providers the flexibility to implement a training model that works best for their staff while continuing to support the highest quality workforce. Providers will be able to opt into either an hours-based training system or a competency-based system.

Enhance technology use

Customized technology solutions are one of the greatest modern tools we have to support greater independence for people with disabilities and better support staff in managing workforce shortages. However, there are some barriers to fully utilizing technology, most notably that not enough people are educated on the options available, but also some limitations on using the public dollars people with disabilities may receive for implementing technology supports.

To ensure technology becomes a fully available support option for people with disabilities, ARRM is proposing that case managers, people with disabilities and their support providers must discuss technology options when developing their care plan. Additionally, ARRM proposes changing language that currently prevents a person receiving support under the traditional disability waivers (non-Consumer Directed Community Support) from using those dollars to purchase supportive technology.

Streamline background checks

A strong background check system is a key component to ensuring people with disabilities are supported by sound and qualified staff. However, while some positions are able to use a modern background check system that returns reports within days, some jobs are forced to use a background check system that is antiquated and can take up to six months for results. Six months is too long to wait to be able to put qualified staff to work while people wait for needed services. The primary area of concern is in child foster care services.

ARRM proposes performing child foster care background studies done through NET Study 2.0, the state’s new system that it uses for all other background studies. NET Study 2.0 meets all of the background check requirements legislated for child foster care and once fully implanted will have an average return time of two to three days.


Sara Grafstrom
Director of Advocacy and Community Relations
651-291-1086 x. 8