Arkansas Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

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This page will house any notable news or updates for the Arkansas IDD community. If you have information you think we should share here, please email to submit suggestions.

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Arkansas Department of Human Services Announces Changes to Leadership


For Immediate Release: November 14, 2023

DHS announces key changes to executive leadership team

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced several key changes to its executive leadership structure that will help align divisions within the agency to serve beneficiaries more holistically.

Effective today, Janet Mann will serve as Deputy Secretary for Programs and Misty Eubanks will serve as Deputy Secretary for Operations and Budget. In addition, Melissa Weatherton will serve as Director of Specialty Medicaid Services under Mann. These changes will streamline all programs under one reporting structure and are intended to increase cross-divisional collaboration and efficiencies. Further, the restructuring will enhance the agency focus on identifying and increasing resources for providing prevention and intervention services across all programs, which will improve service delivery and outcomes to our beneficiaries and should reduce the need for higher-cost behavioral health and medical treatments and out-of-home placements over time.

Mann previously served as Deputy Secretary for Health, overseeing five divisions and one office within DHS that provide Medicaid services, support, and operations. In her redefined role, Mann will continue to oversee these areas and also will assume responsibility for overseeing the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Division of Youth Services (DYS), the Placement Residential Licensing Unit (PRLU), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Deputy Secretary Mann also will continue to serve as the State Medicaid Director.

“The children and families we serve don’t come to us in pieces, but sometimes we deliver our services as if they do,” said DHS Secretary Kristi Putnam. “By aligning all programs under one Deputy Secretary, we will be better positioned to work together to provide wraparound assistance that may span multiple divisions and offices. Janet Mann is a proven leader who has the strategic program and funding expertise and in-depth leadership experience to lead this effort – and I’m excited to see her take on this new charge.”  

Eubanks has served as the agency’s Chief Financial Officer for over two and a half years, and previously has held roles as a Staff Attorney practicing in child welfare, Attorney Supervisor, Privacy Officer, Chief Procurement Officer, and Chief of Business Operations. She has been with DHS for a total of 17 years. In her new role, she will oversee finance and budget and supervise the Office of Procurement, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Policy and Rules, and the Office of Payment Integrity.

“Misty has a head for business and a heart for service, and an impressive record of leading DHS policies and programs through a variety of different roles,” Putnam said. “She thoroughly understands this agency and the complex issues we tackle on a daily basis, and I know she will excel in this new role.”

Weatherton has served as the Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) for eight years. In her new role, she will oversee specialty Medicaid services with a specific focus on DDS, as well as the Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS), and the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (OSAMH). She has been with DHS for nearly 14 years and also has experience in child welfare and youth services.

“Melissa is a respected leader who possesses a rich understanding of Medicaid and a real compassion for the beneficiaries we serve,” Mann said. “Her extensive experience, her thorough knowledge of our programs and policies, and her true commitment to making DHS better every day make her an ideal pick for this new role.”

DHS will name an interim Chief Financial Officer and an interim Director for DDS at a later date.


DHS Website | Newsroom

October Proclaimed as National Disability Employment Awareness Month

September 29, 2023


Photo and Interview Opportunities
Information Contact:
Olivia Hicks
501-353-8259 |

Celebration planned for October 5 at Arkansas State Capitol

WHO: Leslie Rutledge, lieutenant governor of Arkansas; Jonathan Taylor, executive director of the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD); Christy Pettis, mathematics instructor for Arkansas School for the Deaf; Joseph Baxter, commissioner of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS);
community leaders and community members.

WHAT: Lt. Gov. Leslie Rutledge will provide remarks to proclaim October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month at a ceremony on Oct. 5 at the Arkansas State Capitol.

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023 10 a.m.

WHERE: Arkansas State Capitol Building Rotunda, 500 Woodlane St., Little Rock, AR 72201

WHY: The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities is a member of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD). The Council’s purpose is to connect people with developmental disabilities to the resources and programs they need to be independent, be productive and be integrated and included in all parts of community life. GCDD, along with network partners, works to implement the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act in Arkansas to ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of community services that allow increased opportunities to live and work locally. GCDD is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Community Living (ACL) through the Administration on Disabilities Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (OIDD). Learn more at

Governor Sanders Calls a Special Session of the Arkansas Legislature

September 8, 2023

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has called for a special session focusing on tax cuts, updates to the Freedom of Information Act and changes to COVID regulations.


WHEREAS:    An extraordinary occasion has arisen making it necessary to convene the 94th General Assembly into extraordinary session; 

WHEREAS:    With the state’s financial stability, increased economic growth, healthy reserve accounts, and conservative spending policies, additional tax reductions can be enacted to provide further tax relief during this period of heightened inflation under “Bidenomics”; 

WHEREAS:     The rights and privileges of Arkansas citizens should not depend on their decision to vaccinate themselves or their children; 

WHEREAS:     A right to a normal education and lifestyle is imperative to the growth and development of our children and communities; 

WHEREAS:     On September 18, 2022, President Joe Biden declared that the COVID-19 “pandemic is over”;

WHEREAS:  It is the position of my administration that we should protect our students’ safety, freedoms, and right to receive an education in our public schools and educational institutions, as well as the rights of citizens across the state; 

WHEREAS:    It is critical to protect the safety and security of students and staff while present on school campuses; 

WHEREAS:     There is a heightened need to protect the safety, security, and efficiency of constitutional officers and state executive branch agencies;

WHEREAS:    There is a need to secure the attorney-client and deliberative process privileges within state government; 

WHEREAS:    There is a need to amend The Freedom of Information Act of 1967, as amended, to prevent abuse of its attorney fee provisions; and

WHEREAS:     There is a need to provide clarity in the law and constitutional protections to those sentenced under Arkansas Code Annotated § 16-90-120.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, acting under the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Arkansas, do hereby call an Extraordinary Session of the General Assembly to convene in Little Rock on September 11, 2023, at 11:00 a.m., and I do hereby specify that the General Assembly is convened in such Session to consider, and if so advised, enact laws for the following purposes:

1.    To amend the individual income tax brackets and rates to a top tax rate of 4.4% effective January 1, 2024, and following tax years; to amend the income tax brackets and rates for domestic and foreign corporations to a top tax rate of 4.8% effective January 1, 2024, and following tax years; to provide a non-refundable income tax credit for tax year 2023 up to $150 per individual taxpayer and up to $300 for married spouses filing jointly; 

2.    To create and transfer existing surplus funds to the Arkansas Reserve Fund Set-Aside in the Restricted Reserve Fund;

3.    To prohibit Arkansas public entities from mandating COVID-19 vaccines or vaccine for variants or engaging in related coercive actions; to require the Arkansas Department of Health to maintain publicly available information on the risks of the COVID-19 vaccines; to provide an exemption in certain cases if approved by the Arkansas Legislative Council; 

4.    To amend the Freedom of Information Act of 1967 to protect the security of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Auditor of State, the Treasurer of State, the Commissioner of State Lands, members of the General Assembly, Justices of the Supreme Court, or Judges of the Court of Appeals; to amend the Freedom of Information Act of 1967 to add protections for the deliberative process and attorney-client privilege of state level entities; To amend Arkansas Code § 12-8-108(c) to extend the Freedom of Information Act of 1967 exemption and confidentiality requirement to all duties of the state police under § 12-8-108(a); to amend the award of attorney’s fees; to require Arkansas State Police to file a quarterly report to Arkansas Legislative Council categorizing aggregated expenditures; 

5.    To amend Arkansas Code § 20-22-1011(a) to provide clarity for public schools, private schools, and educational institutions to keep exterior doors closed and locked during school hours apart from transition times as required in Arkansas Code § 6-21-121;

6.    To amend the Philanthropic Investment in Arkansas Kids Program Act and the Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program to provide for the provision of educational services and access to additional funding for children with disabilities under the Philanthropic Investment in Arkansas Kids Program Act, the Succeed Scholarship Program, and the Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program;

7.    To clarify that Arkansas Code § 16-90-120(e)(1) applies to offenses committed on or after July 2, 2007, but before January 1, 2024, and Arkansas Code § 16-90-120(g) applies to sentencing for offenses committed on or after January 1, 2024; 

8.    To confirm gubernatorial appointees as required by Arkansas Code § 10-2-113; and

9.    To provide for payment of expenses and per diem of the House of Representatives and the Senate for this Extraordinary Session. 

Further, this call is subject to amendment prior to the date and time at which the General Assembly shall convene. 

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and cause the Great Seal of the State of Arkansas to be affixed this 8th day of September, in the year of our Lord 2023.

Visit the Governor's page to view the official release here

GCDD Staff Participates in Weekly FEMA Region 6 Calls with Arkansas Disability and Access and Functional Needs Stakeholders

To remain ready to assist the Arkansas disability community during the disaster response and recovery for areas affected by the 03/31/23 storms, the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities Arkansas staff's deputy director continues to participate in the FEMA Region 6 Arkansas Disability and Access and Functional Needs Stakeholders Group. Currently, the group meets weekly via Zoom to discuss response and recovery efforts for the current disaster and keep each other up to date. These calls are facilitated by the FEMA Region 6 Disability Integration Specialist for Arkansas. The FEMA Region 6  office is located in Denton, TX, and partners with federal emergency management for 68 Tribal Nations and the following states: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Persons with Access and Functional Needs are those individuals with function-based needs (related to a restriction or limited ability to perform activities normally considered routine) that may require assistance before, during, and /or after a disaster or an emergency. The Arkansas Disability and Access and Functional Needs Stakeholders Group (for emergency preparedness and emergency response) includes representatives from key agencies and organizations who serve the Arkansas disability community or advocate for Arkansans with functional and access needs (or disabilities). Examples of these organizations and/or agencies are (but not limited to): the Department of Commerce - Workforce Services/Rehabilitation Services, Division of Services for the Blind, iCAN the Arkansas Assistive Technology Program; the Department of Health; the Department of Human Services; the Department of Public Safety - Division of Emergency Management; Disability Rights Arkansas; the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies; the Red Cross; the State Council on Developmental Disabilities; the State Independent Living Council.

You can visit this website for updates on FEMA Region 6 Response and Resources . When you reach the FEMA R6 site, scroll down toward the bottom of the page and look for the header "Regional News and Information".

Biden-Harris Executive Order on the Care Economy


For Immediate Release:  April 18, 2023

Today, President Biden issued an historic Executive Order containing over fifty directives to mobilize resources across the federal government to bolster the care economy. This Executive Order increases access to home and community-based services, including for veterans, and to accessible childcare. It also improves job quality for direct support professionals and care workers who make early childhood education and home and community services possible for disabled people across the country and provides support for unpaid family caregivers. AAPD applauds this Executive Order and commends the Biden Administration on their commitment to advancing care and to making our nation one where all Americans, including people with disabilities, can thrive. 

People with disabilities engage with all aspects of care infrastructure. Disabled parents and children with disabilities benefit from the increased availability of affordable and accessible childcare. Disabled workers are more likely to need access to paid leave to manage their own health conditions, and when doing so, have lower incomes and savings to rely upon. Working caregivers, including working caregivers with disabilities, must reduce working hours or take leave to meet their caregiving responsibilities. This all too often results in family caregivers, including disabled family caregivers,  leaving the workforce and causing families of people with disabilities to experience financial hardship. Family caregivers frequently endure physical and emotional strain, becoming disabled if they were not already, and too often do not receive the respite support they need to sustain themselves. In response to the Administration’s Executive Order, Maria Town, President and CEO of AAPD released the following statement: 

"For decades, disabled people have fought to live in our homes and communities, not in institutions. A key element to this fight is enhancing wages, benefits, and job conditions for direct support workers who provide the necessary services to ensure community integration. Individuals in this workforce, who are predominantly disabled women of color, must often work multiple jobs with no benefits to make ends meet." 

Town continued, "Of course, improving job conditions is only one component of expanding access to home and community based services, as the struggles of workers and the individuals they support are intertwined. Federal agencies, like the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development must use their authority to enforce and advance existing disability civil rights and community integration. Congress must increase funding for Medicaid, which is the primary payer for long-term services and supports. President Biden’s budget proposes investments of $150 billion over 10 years to improve and expand Medicaid home and community-based services. We urge Congress to pass President Biden’s budget and to commit to the improved employment, financial security, and health of our nation through investment in home and community based services, paid leave, and child care. The impact of these executive actions, coupled with future increased public investment in the care economy, will be can and will be felt from individuals to communities alike, ensuring that millions of people can have the resources, tools and opportunity to thrive." 

Full text of the Executive Order:


Arkansas partners with Red Cross to provide temporary lodging for displaced tornado victims


For Immediate Release:  April 13, 2023

LITTLE ROCK — Temporary lodging in hotels or motels is now available for eligible residents displaced from their homes by the March 31 tornadoes, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM), and the American Red Cross announced today.

This program will provide safe and comfortable lodging while helping residents displaced by tornado damage work toward permanent housing solutions. Displaced residents in Pulaski, Lonoke, and Cross counties who need temporary housing are asked to call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

“I’ve traveled around our state to meet with tornado victims, first responders, and local, state, and national leaders. We’ve made tremendous progress in addressing Arkansans’ needs, but it will take time before affected communities can recover fully,” said Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Today, I’m announcing that Arkansas is partnering with the Red Cross to get tornado victims in temporary lodging quickly. They bring the expertise and resources we’ll need to support our fellow Arkansans until they’re back on their feet.”

Through this program, DHS, ADEM, and Red Cross are working with hotels in the affected counties or in nearby communities. Individuals or families who participate in the program will be placed in hotel or motel rooms and provided meals. To further help disaster survivors, Red Cross and FEMA case managers will address the needs of each eligible citizen and support their recovery progress in coordination with DHS.

Additional resources to assist tornado victims are available at, as well as through the services listed below:

• American Red Cross Services: Feeding, Sheltering, Health/Mental Health Services, Spiritual Care, Recovery Planning and Assistance | Phone: (800) RED-CROSS |

• FEMA Assistance: Apply for federal Disaster Assistance. | Phone: (800) 621-3362 |

• Aunt Bertha: Food, Clothing, Housing, Transportation, Legal Assistance, Work, Financial Assistance |

• Crisis Cleanup: Home Cleanup Hotline Open | Phone: (844) 965-1386 |


Governor Sanders Launches

In response to the emergency in Arkansas, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders brings you a new webpage where you will find Arkansas Storm Recovery Information. On Monday, April 3rd, 2023, Governor Sanders launched, a one-stop website for tornado recovery resources. This includes information on federal, state, local, and charitable resources for tornado survivors. Also available is a list of volunteer and charity opportunities for those who want to help their fellow Arkansans.

Arkansas Hit by Damaging Storms

Several areas across Arkansas were hit by damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes on the afternoon of Friday, March 31st, 2023. Storms causes damage to vehicles, homes, and businesses. People were injured and some lost their lives. Damage is widespread across many counties including: Crittenden, Cross, Garland, Lonoke, Phillips, Pike, Prairie, Pulaski, Saline, and Stone. Read more about the storms and damage at

Legislation and Policy Updates Have Moved!

You will now find our legislative and policy updates on this page: Legislation & Public Policy

Your State Legislature Is In Session

The Arkansas 94th General Assembly has convened for its 2023 regular session. Visit the legislature's website for meeting information, agendas, and even links to watch online - see your legislators at work!

When?  January 9, 2023 12:00am

Where? Arkansas State Capitol, 500 Woodlane St, Little Rock, AR 72201

It is extremely helpful to have strong allies in the legislature. Get to know where legislators stand on issues and find those who are sympathetic to disability issues. Legislators interested in working on these issues often have a personal connection to someone with a disability. Building relationships with legislators opens the door to work more closely with them to get bills introduced, to help in drafting the language, in shaping the debate on the issues, and in getting legislation signed into law.

For more tips on effective legislative advocacy, check out our Effective State Legislative Advocacy document and also check out this 2023 Determined Constituent Gude

Arkansas State Legislature 2023 Regular Session Important Dates

94th General Assembly - Regular Session, 2023 Visit the website here.


Pre-filing Bills and Resolutions: November 15, 2022

Arkansas Code § 10-2-112(a) establishes November 15 of each year preceding a regular session of the General Assembly as the earliest date that legislation may be filed for introduction.

Pre-Session Budget Hearings: October 11, 2022 - November 10, 2022

The budget hearings of the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC) begin October 11, 2022 and are scheduled to conclude November 10, 2022. The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) sits with the ALC as voting participants in the hearings, creating the Arkansas Legislative Council/Joint Budget Committee (ALC/JBC).

Executive Balanced Budget: Prior to November 10, 2022

The Director of DFA is required to present the Official General Revenue Forecast and balanced budget no later than 60 days prior to the beginning of the regular session.

Feasibility Study for Certain Health Care Legislation introduced by a member of the General Assembly – December 9, 2022

House Rule 72.(a) and Senate Rule 7.05 provide that no action may be taken in the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor, on the floor of the House of Representatives, in the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor, or on the floor of the Senate on any bill that provides for licensure of any profession, occupation or class of health care providers not currently licensed or expands the scope of practice of any profession, occupation, or class of health care providers unless the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor or the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor has initiated a study of the feasibility of such legislation at least thirty (30) days prior to convening the next legislative session.

House Rule 72.(b) and Senate Rule 7.05 provide that a bill providing for the licensure of any profession, occupation, or class of health care providers not currently licensed or expanding the scope of any practice of any profession, occupation, or class of health care providers may be acted upon without the initiation of a feasibility study upon a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee membership or upon a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee membership .

Convening regular session: January 9, 2023

Arkansas Code § 10-2-101(a) sets 12:00 noon on the second Monday in January of each odd-numbered year for the convening of the General Assembly in regular session. This rule is derived from Arkansas Constitution, Article 5, § 5, which permits the General Assembly to establish the date.

Deadline to file retirement legislation, certain health care legislation, and employee health benefits plans legislation: January 23, 2023

Joint Rules and Arkansas Code § 10-2-115 require that legislation affecting any publicly supported retirement system or pension plan be introduced during the first fifteen days of the regular session. (*) After the fifteenth day of the regular session, retirement legislation must be approved for introduction by a three-fourths vote of the full membership of each house.

Joint Rules require that proposed legislation affecting the licensure of any profession, occupation, or class of health care providers not currently licensed or expanding the scope of practice of any profession, occupation, or class of health care providers to be considered by the General Assembly at a regular biennial session be introduced in the General Assembly during the first fifteen calendar days of a regular biennial session. After the fifteenth day of the regular session, any proposed legislation affecting the licensure of any profession, occupation, or class of health care providers not currently licensed or expanding the scope of practice of any profession, occupation, or class of health care providers must be approved for introduction by a three-fourths vote of the full membership of each house.

Act 112 of 2022 and Joint Rules require that proposed legislation affecting the State and  Public School Life and Health Insurance Program or that imposes a new or increased cost obligation for health benefit plans, including pharmacy benefits, on an entity of the state to be considered by the General Assembly at a regular session shall be introduced in the General Assembly during the first fifteen (15) calendar days of a regular session (*); and shall not be introduced after the fifteenth day of a regular session unless the introduction of the bill is first approved by a three-fourths (3/4) vote of the full membership of each house of the General Assembly.

Deadline to file constitutional amendments and lottery-funded scholarship legislation: February 8, 2023

Joint Rules state: “No resolution proposing a constitutional amendment shall be filed in either the House of Representatives or the Senate after the thirty-first (31st) day of each regular session of the General Assembly.” Arkansas Code § 6-85-501 requires that a bill creating a new scholarship to be funded with net proceeds from the state lottery or the Higher Education Grants Fund Account or an existing scholarship funded from those same sources “not be introduced after the thirty-first day of a regular session unless its introduction is first approved by a three-fourths vote of the full membership of each chamber of the General Assembly.” (*)

Deadline to file appropriation bills: February 27, 2023*

Joint Rules state: “No appropriation bill shall be filed for introduction in either the House of Representatives or the Senate later than the fiftieth (50th) day of each regular session (*) except upon consent of two-thirds of the members elected to each house; ...” 

(*) This deadline may be extended.