A bill that would improve services for North Dakota residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities has passed both the House and the Senate.
State senators voted 46-0 to pass House Bill 1517 on Thursday. The bill was re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee, due to the fiscal note attached to the bill.
The measure passed in the House by a vote of 83-6 last month.
Sen. David Clemens, R-West Fargo, said during the floor session on Thursday that the bill "is designed to make policies, procedures and standards for services used by people with developmental and intellectual disabilities more seamless, standardized and streamlined."
The North Dakota Department of Human Services oversees an institution for people with disabilities called the Life Skills and Transition Center, which is located in Grafton.
HB1517 requires the Department of Human Services to conduct a standardized assessment of "eligible individuals" residing at the Life Skills and Transition Center.
The measure also would expand a statewide team that works with community providers to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities stay in their communities.
Administrators at the Life Skills and Transition Center requested additional funding in their 2019-21 budget to expand an already existing team that works to keep people with disabilities in their communities.
The request includes funding for 7.5 full-time positions to be added to that group of professionals, which is called the Clinical Assistance, Resources and Evaluation, or CARES, team.
Disability advocates, including The Arc of North Dakota and North Dakota Protection and Advocacy Project, welcomed the proposal in hopes that it will prevent future admissions to the Life Skills and Transition Center.
Because there are limited amounts of support services available in the state, when a person with an intellectual or developmental disability is in a crisis, they are often sent to the Life Skills and Transition Center.
Tom Eide, director of field services for the Department of Human Services, previously told the Tribune that the additional 7.5 full-time employees would likely provide crisis assistance at the eight regional human service centers located across the state.
The additional positions come at a cost of about $940,000, which would include a 50-50 match between federal and state funds.