Save Our System: Take Three Minutes to Write Your Legislators
Dear autism community,
The budget season is afoot in Sacramento, we must raise our voices to strengthen our underfunded Developmental Services system. Please send an email or fax to your state senator and assemblymember (sample below).
DDS adult autism cases will double over the next five years, and triple over the next ten, to about 42,000 cases, but our system is already fracturing under financial strain. Programs are closing, housing choices are almost nonexistent, and waitlists are growing longer. A 10% funding increase is needed now, and long-term planning is needed to ensure our disabled children have a viable, permanent place in our communities. Please fax or write to your local state senator and assemblymember using our sample as a guide (Find them here: capwiz.com/thearc/ca/state/main/?lvl=L&view=myofficials.)
Also, please email the following lawmakers:
• Senator Holly Mitchell, chair of the key Senate budget subcommittee: http://www.capwiz.com/thearc/ca/issues/alert/?alertid=64028351&CU&show_alert=1. Fax: (916) 651-4930
• Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, chair of the key Assembly Budget Subcommittee: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Fax: (916) 319-2115
• Bill Monning, Senate Majority Leader: http://sd17.senate.ca.gov/send-e-mail Fax: (916) 651-4917
Sample Fax or Email (please change facts to reflect your situation):
I am the parent of a 23 year-old young man with severe autism who requires full-time care. When he aged out of the school system at age 22, we found he had nowhere to go -- no day programs would accept him (he has the mental capacity of a toddler but the body of a linebacker), and no group homes serving such intense needs had openings.
Ironically, as the population of disabled autistic adults like my son surges, the DDS budget remains nonresponsive, leaving our most vulnerable citizens with dwindling, sparce options for community-based care. California's adult autism population will double over the next five years and triple over the next ten—we must strengthen our system now.
• Adult day and work programs are at capacity, residential group homes are closing, and wait lists are growing. The scarcity of services often leave families with no options for their loved ones.
• Low rates have caused the shutdown of services. Current reimbursement rates for vocational and day services are only slightly higher than the Fiscal Year 1995-1996 costs. Since that time, inflation has driven up costs about 50%. Low rates for programs yield low wages which lead to higher turnover, a decrease in staff qualifications and ultimately poor service quality.
• California now spends the least of any state on services for each individual that qualifies for community based services eligible for federal funding (Medicaid waiver). In fact, California is at risk of losing millions of federal dollars if it does not comply in meeting the needs of the developmentally disabled in California. “When taking into account the relative wealth of each state, California’s performance is even lower and continues to decline, “ says ARCA.
• The "median rate" policy leaves the more severely impaired increasingly restricted options. Reimbursement rates for necessary, bedrock social services are capped without regard for intensity of need. California’s service rates do not take into account any geographic differences in the cost of living/service provision, rendering Lanterman Act-mandated "community-based" care increasingly out of reach in high cost areas like our San Francisco Bay Area.
• Regional Centers are overwhelmed by ever-growing caseloads, now often 100 per service coordinator. And we have no plan to care for this mounting population of young adults incapable of caring for themselves. Outrageously, in this time of desperate need to create new programs for adults with autism, no funds are allocated for starting new programs or even providing existing ones with enough capital to enable them to maintain the quality of their existing services or expand.
Therefore, I urge your support for:
• A 10% emergency increase to the Regional Center budget to prevent further closure and erosion of services and ensure some system stability; a 5% increase each subsequent year as we work towards system reform.
• Immediate disbanding of disastrous “median rate” policy, which leaves our most intensively disabled citizens without viable staffing or programs, especially prevalent in high cost of living geographic areas .
• System fiscal reform to be completed by the next fiscal year so that services for the DD community can be adequate and sustainable and prevent California from losing more federal funding.
• A statewide Adult Autism Needs Assessment, leading to an Adult Autism Programs & Housing Plan completed by February 2016. The autism parent population is aging--who will care for our grown disabled children? Where will they live? There are already 75,000 California DDS autism cases, with 5,000 added each year. This is an increase of 2,500% since the mid 1980s. Soon autism will represent a full half of the DDS population.
Thank you so much for your consideration and all you do on behalf of our state's most vulnerable citizens.
Write Your Reps!
• If don’t know who your local state senator and assemblymember are, here’s where to find out: capwiz.com/thearc/ca/state/main/?lvl=L&view=myofficials.
• Educate your reps about the urgency of the adult autism crisis with this flyer
• Local Assembly budget committee members:
Assemblymember David Chiu, SF (contact)
Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Oakland (contact)
Assembly member Tony Thurmond, Oakland
More info: LantermanCoalition.org