Senate Bill 274 Opens Brokerage Services to People 14 and Up

Posted by on May 24, 2019

With the end set for June 20, the 2019 Oregon Legislative Session is in its final month. Oregon Support Services Association has been actively engaged in advocacy since the session’s January 22 start. Legislators come to public service with a variety of backgrounds and interests, and the Brokerage association works hard to enrich their understanding of services for people with developmental disabilities.

This session has been different for us–we brought forward a legislative concept that was introduced by chief sponsor Senator James Manning Jr.  (North Eugene, West Eugene, Santa Clara, and Junction City), and co-sponsored by Representative Rob Nosse (Portland), and Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson (Gresham). Senator Manning’s belief in choice and service options for young people with developmental disabilities compelled him to lead the sponsorship of Senate bill 274 (SB 274). SB 274 changes the age of eligibility for case management from Support Services Brokerages from 18 to 14 years. With this bill, we are aiming to:

  • create a smoother and more supported turning-18 transition period for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families.
  • remove barriers to stakeholder decision-making and support positive change.
  • open choice and service options for people age 14-17.

We believe that this design makes more sense for people for a variety of reasons. The “Turning 18” time frame is already fraught for people with IDD and their families. They are already overloaded, working to secure testing and other documentation for adult DD eligibility, switching doctors from pediatric to adult, making housing decisions, graduating, college, entering high school transition programs, qualifying for social security and Medicaid benefits, etc. No one going through all of that wants to be faced with one more choice: to stay with your current case management entity, or switch to a new one? It’s not a good time to introduce that option, but it is our current system design.

The Oregon State Capitol building in Salem, Oregon.

’Senate bill 274 is currently working through the Oregon legislative process at the Capitol in Salem.

The start of high school is a pivot point at which we start to consider what our adult lives will look like. As a young person begins to dream and set goals, it makes sense to have a Brokerage Personal Agent there from the start, to develop rapport and have a deep understanding of what you want for your life. It’s at this time that people start to develop their identities, and their lives outside of the family unit. Though still very much rooted in family life, young people begin to look to adulthood, and make plans. It makes sense to us to engage at this point, to support that journey. It is also a time when Employment Teams gather, and it makes sense to join that work early to support success from start to finish.

In addition to the logical reasons, there are logistical reasons to support this bill. Current work is underway with the Office of Developmental Disabilities and IDD stakeholders to consider how we can modify and improve case management in Oregon. As the case management providers for nearly 8,000 adult Oregonians, we are eager to find ways to provide better and more efficient services. Currently, Brokerages are defined in statute as “Support Services for Adults,” which naturally means that we are not able to serve anyone under the age of 18. We want to come out of this legislative session with the statutory flexibility to offer these services to people as young as 14 years of age. Case management is currently offered to young people with developmental disabilities through the Community Developmental Disability Program (CDDP) serving in their county. We want that option to continue to be available, with the additional option of case management services through a local Support Service Brokerage, thereby expanding choice of case management provider for this age group.

SB 274 is currently waiting to be heard by the Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on  Human Services. Should it be passed out of the Human Services subcommittee, it will move to the full Joint Committee on Ways and Means. Next, if worked out of the full Joint Committee on Ways and Means, it will be read for vote in both chambers of the Oregon legislature.

If you like the idea of having the option of Brokerages available to people starting at age 14, please contact your local legislators. Call, email, or visit your legislators and urge them to hear and support SB 274, and change the age of eligibility for case management from Support Services Brokerages from 18 to 14 years.