More cuts loom in California.
Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino reports at The San Bernardino County Sun that Gov. Jerry Brown's May Revision includes $174 million in general fund savings achieved through cuts to Department of Developmental Services.
But even though it's showing results, Prevention Program will likely change - in its proposal on how to reach the $174 million figure it submitted to the Legislature on May 16, DDS suggested limiting program's scope and transferring its management from regional centers to parent-staffed Family Resource Centers.
"Early prevention program reduces the issues identified through assessment and evaluation," said Keith Penman, executive director of San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center. "Family Resource Centers don't have clinical monitoring and assessment capabilities. They are not licensed professionals. It's a way to provide a level of care that may not have same value to the families."
The Prevention Program consists of intake, assessment, case management, and referral to various agencies for those infants and toddlers who are at risk for developmental delay. It was established in October 2009 after changes in eligibility were imposed to achieve savings in the DDS' comprehensive Early Start Program.
"The criteria became tighter, a child had to be more disabled, not just have a speech delay," Penman said. "It had a dampening effect on our clients. We had a downturn in numbers of referrals to regional centers across the state. But we still had the safety net of prevention program, in which we monitored the children, provided assessment and evaluation. Their progress was tracked."
The transfer is poised to save state $7.5 million.
"Prevention gives the baby a jump-start, because they get really intense services early on," said Carol Fitzgibbons, an executive director of the Inland Regional Center. "Catching up costs more and can become a burden for life."
The DDS' proposal also includes implementing an Annual Family Program Fee. To achieve $7.2 million in General Fund savings, DDS may require some 46,900 families to pay an annual family program fee in the amount of $150 or $200 depending on family income.
"Every time you have a program that has been free for number of years, it does make people less willing to participate or even to find out if they are eligible," Penman said.
Service provides contracted by regional centers will not remain immune to the cuts either.
Adding $13 million to the pot, a 4.25 percent reduction in payments regional centers pay to agencies providing service to developmentally disabled will likely continue.
"It puts our providers in a position of not being able to pay their staff adequately, and if you can't retain qualified staff, services to clients get diminished," he said.
"Some of our vendors, like the Goodwill are nonprofit organizations, but not all can fundraise and you can't live on fundraising," Fitzgibbons added.
Regional centers are also looking at 4.5 percent reduction in resources. Their workload is likely to get heavier - 80 to 100 cases per case manager as opposed to no more than 60.