The title of a flier being sent around by the Developmental Disabilities Provider Network & San Diego Regional Center kind of says it all: “A RALLY … AGAIN.”
The first rally of service providers to the developmentally disabled happened back in June, just after Gov. Jerry Brown kicked money for them out of the budget and into a special session.
In a report released earlier this year, the Association of Regional Center Agencies found that California spends less on each individual with a developmental disability than every other state. And yet caseloads are growing ever higher, and homes that can’t manage the financial stress are shutting down.
Speaker Toni Atkins assured service providers at the time that “#DDS funding in scope of special session on health care we’re opening Friday. Commitment hasn’t changed, only venue.”
Still, providers are on edge.
Brown tasked the Legislature with finding new revenue for the system. “We’re not dumb, we know that means taxes,” said Carlos Flores, executive director of the San Diego Regional Center, which provides services to the developmentally disabled in San Diego and Imperial counties.
Tax increases, of course, come with a high two-thirds vote bar for being passed.
“But for the sake of service providers and saving our system, I’ve just got to hope there’s a chance,” Flores said.
Susan Abram reports at The Los Angeles Daily News:
In what they called a last desperate plea, more than 100 protesters gathered in front of state Sen. Kevin de Leon’s district office Tuesday to press him and other lawmakers to boost funding for programs for those with developmental disabilities.
Demonstrators, including those with special needs, were joined by supporters from the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena and all over East Los Angeles. The protesters lined West Sunset Boulevard holding signs that said: “Fair Funding!” and “Save our Services!”
Those who work with people with intellectual disabilities have held several protests statewide aiming to persuade lawmakers to address funding before the special session currently underway ends in mid-September. They have also visited with lawmakers and held a letter-writing campaign.
Marcia Leija, a Winnetka mother of two young sons with autism, said therapy for her children is expensive. She said she is counting on the regional centers to be there when her sons are older, to help place them in programs to help them attend college and work. She worries the centers won’t be there if funding doesn’t come back.
“The quality of life of people who use these programs will go down, then their health will go down,” Leija said. “The whole system will go down fast.”