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My name is Daniel Hogue, Executive Director of Las Trampas. I have worked in the Intellectual and Developmental Disability (I/DD) service industry since 1993, starting as a direct care worker. Now, in my role as a leader, I am constantly asked about the state and future of our field. Now, more than ever, this is an important topic that should be addressed. It’s my hope to address concerns, successes, and opportunities for action that will help people with developmental disabilities and the I/DD community.
In the human services field, we as care takers, social workers, and people who work from the heart tend to speak lightly, politely, and focus on the work to be done. Leaders in the I/DD service industry understand that there are many competing interests within the state. We are not used to taking a hard stands. This has to change. While it sounds alarming, the viability of the I/DD service system is on the brink of collapse and it’s time for us to find our voice.
Yet another year has gone by without increases to I/DD funding. The state budget approved by the legislature and the governor at the end of June again neglects to fully fund programs and services for this vulnerable population. So, what are the impacts? Well, to put it frankly, if you have a child or family member with I/DD who receives services, they may be at risk.
Since 2003, state funding for I/DD services has essentially been a downhill spiral with minimal increases offsetting serious cuts during the 2008 financial crisis. So what does this mean? It means that providers, and more importantly the people served, have to make do with extremely limited resources, and often times, to simply do without. Full-time professional positions like speech language pathologists, a full program staff with clinical training and experience, budgets for transportation and community integration, and more—all of these program components have been cut or seriously reduced over the past decade. Meanwhile, mandates continue to come down from the state level to do more… do more, with less, all while the state holds record surpluses.
Each month, I will be discussing the ramifications of the current state including the impacts on providers and the people served as well as how the system is coping, advocacy efforts, progress and setbacks, stories of success in the midst of tough times, and things that you can do to support people with developmental disabilities. I hope you’ll join me!