Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CA to Cut Special Needs Services? Part 2

After writing about California Governor Jerry Brown's budget cuts that could completely destroy services provided through regional centers throughout the state, I was taken to task -- accused of putting children with autism above adults and other potentially-debilitating disabilities.

To that, I say that my post had nothing to do with disability as a whole. In fact, I agree that those who qualify should receive assistance when their disability prevents them from being able to function enough to provide for or care for themselves and/or their families. But I am only one person and a war cannot be won by fighting every battle at the same time. Considering what's on the table to be cut, this battle is urgent and I will not apologize for standing on the front lines for my family and other families on a similar journey. Here are some  important facts to consider...

FACT: Regional centers don't just serve children with autism.

Regional centers provide services for children and adults with developmental disabilities, defined as "a condition attributable to Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Autism, conditions closely related to mental retardation or conditions that require treatment similar to that required for individuals with mental retardation." Services include diagnostic evaluations, lifelong case management, advocacy in securing services from schools and other organizations, assistance in locating and using community resources, community resource development, genetic counseling, prevention programs, community education and outreach, parent support services and program monitoring, evaluation and technical assistance to service providers.

Take this comment, for example, from '4eyedsue,' who posted on 
SCVTalk yesterday. "I provide residential care to adults with developmental disabilities. These proposed cuts will be devastating to our facilities- I doubt we could stay open. We are already operating with a 4.5% cut. Probably doesn’t sound like much- but these programs were already dreadfully underfunded to begin with. The kicker is- the state still expects us to provide the same standard of service. The standards are state law."

Sue adds, "Cutting the staff’s already pitiful salaries wouldn’t even get us through this. Our dedicated employees are woefully underpaid- no fancy benefits or pension. Hourly at $10 or less to assist with medications, personal hygiene, meal preparations, housekeeping. They act as friend, teacher, nurse, maid, counselor, and taxi service."

FACT: Funding from several sources could completely dry up, forcing closures of key programs. 

Regional center services are paid for through a variety of sources including government supports such as Medi-Cal, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and senior services. Interestingly enough, Governor Brown is also "calling for massive permanent reductions to programs, CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, SSI/SSP, mental health and more."

And let's get back to the kids. What do you think will happen to them if they can no longer get the resources they so desperately need? Early intervention has been proven to make a huge difference in the lives of children, not only immediately, but for the rest of their lives.

FACT: Early Intervention is important because...
Critical window of opportunity” for children 0- 6 years of age
Brain has high degree of plasticity
Providing intensive intervention during these early years leads to a higher degree of independence and overall maximized outcomes

FACT: Early Intervention now means a stronger life later
Statistics show that between 25 and 50% of children receiving intensive early intervention will move into general education by Kindergarten
Many others will need significantly less service provision in future years

Whatever your fight, you have the power to make a difference. Governor Brown wants to make a decision in the coming weeks. Stand up and be heard, California!

Email: Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

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