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Friday, September 17, 2010

Inland Regional Center

An earlier post described an audit of California's Regional Centers.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA) reports on a hearing this week at the Inland Regional Center:

Several vendors speaking at the public hearing spoke about retaliation for questioning decisions or raising concerns about operations.

Laura M. Wiles, an advocate for special education and adult services in Wildomar, said "I am continually frustrated by the lack of programs, especially for adults with autism."

The parent of an 18-year-old son with severe autism, Wiles said IRC was unable to place her son in an appropriate facility in Riverside County. She found one for him in San Diego County.

"They (IRC) have dropped the ball on adult programs. The caseworkers know this is something they should advocate. They are overwhelmed."

"The organization is more about quantity than quality," said Beth Burt, president of the Autism Society of America's Inland Empire Chapter in Corona.

After the meeting, Carol Fitzgibbons, IRC executive director since May, said, "It is the responsibility of myself, our staff and our board to listen and take the information and figure out what we need to do next and try to resolve some of these issues."

"I always feel that an audit is a learning process ... this is part of the learning process."

"At the end of the day consumers are being served and we plan to move forward in positive ways," she said.

Assemblyman Hector de la Torre, D-South Gate, who initially called for the audit, said in an interview Tuesday, "clearly there is not enough oversight of the regional centers which manage nearly $4 billion in taxpayer funds."

On Facebook, Kristie Renee' Sepulveda-Burchit follows up:

An article I read yesterday morning was titled "Angry crowd criticizes Inland Regional Center." Now yes there were people who were notably angry and many were understandably vendors. One parent did verbalize he was angry. It was clear from the other things he said that this parent was more frightened, anxious, and that his trust had been violated by IRC. I don't think those are things most men verbalize about and certainly not at a public meeting. This parent I recognized from going to other board meetings throughout the past year and a half and immediately wondered where his wife was as she normally speaks. He pointed that out saying normally his wife got up and did public comment about the recurrent issue they have of the regional center curbing the independence of their son with a developmental disability. However, as this dad announced, his wife had since passed away. He later talked about how he is pushing 60 and won't be around forever and he thought he could trust the regional center to be there for his son after he passes too and now he's just not so sure. Perhaps he is angry. Or perhaps he's really scared. I know I would be.

Due to the budget cuts from last year in 2009 our regional center decided to cut for all consumers' a service called social recreation. This service gives the IRC clients the ability to go out in the community and socialize. They didn't train the case workers or staff on exemptions to the legislative rules just sent out notices to all consumers that social recreation would be cut. One parent got up to talk about the effect of this on her son and she verbalized that he no longer is going out in the community but staying at home. This mom feared that her son was headed in the direction of having to be institutionalized.

Another parent voiced her concern for her adult son who has been ousted from several day programs. Though she recently found a pilot program that is appropriate for him, she believes IRC does not have ample selection and is not prepared for the tsunami of children with autism that will be adults. This parent has had to become a resource to other parents who have children graduating from high school who have nowhere to turn for their kids.