The Arc was concerned to read the Notice Statement on the reorganization of the Administration for Community Living (ACL) published in the federal register. As the “the principal agency in the department designated to lead aging and disability programs,” ACL must have sufficient resources, support and clarity in its goals to be successful in this role. ACL has been a leader and key partner on a range of essential issues, including protecting the rights of people with disabilities and older adults, preventing abuse and neglect, supporting needed systems change activities, promoting promising practices in home and community-based services, implementing person-centered planning, and providing a range of technical assistance to states and other stakeholders, among many others.
ACL must continue to support programs and policies that advance community living for older adults and people with disabilities of all ages and facilitate full participation in their communities. Achieving this goal requires a robust and well-informed staff, including, for example, leadership with substantial knowledge of independent living services directing the Independent Living program, as required in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The current proposal divides programs that have traditionally worked collaboratively, such as the programs authorized under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act.
We strongly encourage the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prioritize ACL’s work toward its stated mission, to maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities and their families and caregivers. ACL must avoid unnecessary disruption and ensure that any changes will not undermine the agency’s effectiveness. We call on ACL leadership to work with stakeholders to safeguard necessary supports and services for older adults and people with disabilities and advance community living.