Valerie’s Week in Review – Friday, May 29, 2015

Dear Governor Brown,

I know it’s another week or two before you receive the amended budget. During this time, I humbly ask you to give some attention to the Developmental Service System, and how badly it needs your help.

Think back to the cuts and discounts and freezes this system has suffered for decades. Consider the erosion of services as funds dwindled. Think about programs offering less effective services, then fewer services, and finally closing. Think of people with disabilities living in the community, as is their right, with the supports that allow them to live independently slipping away. Think of low-paid staff who don’t show up on time or at all, transportation that’s so unreliable that appointments are impossible to keep. Think about fewer and fewer choices and think about how much restoration of funds would benefit these people, this long-suffering and much-deserving system.

I’ve heard people say that you don’t like entitlements. What does that mean? It can’t mean that you don’t see that some people need help to survive. It can’t mean that you think people with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, mental illness, are at fault for their situations and don’t deserve help. It can’t mean that you don’t realize that we as a civilized society have a moral responsibility to take care of our most vulnerable citizens.

Please, Governor Brown, have some compassion. Restore funding to Developmental Services.

Thank you for your consideration.


Audrey deChadenedes

Friday, May 29, 2015

This week we learned the outcomes of the subcommittee hearings in Sacramento last week. The news was a little good and a little not-so-good. There were two different proposals.

The Assembly proposed a 10% increase across the board over two years… which means 5% in 2016 and 5% in 2017. I love that it’s across the board – money is desperately needed everywhere! – but it’s only 5% now, and it won’t start till January 2016 – too late for some programs that are just barely squeaking by now.

The Senate proposal is almost great. It provides the full 10% to many services. It provides for funds coming out of Developmental Centers to go into the DDS budget, and it provides for updating of rate setting methodologies. However, it ignores some critical services, like Regional Center operations, Group Homes and Day Programs.

Day Programs are very much on my radar this week since we received a confusing letter from Valerie’s program late on Friday, of course too late to speak with anyone there until Monday.

It addresses the 20-30 clients who are in the Senior Program and the 1:1 Program (Valerie’s program), in both cases clients with a high level of need. Although the letter is strangely indirect and cites no specific policy change, it mentions twice that individuals with “intensive medical needs” or “high levels of medical care and need” may no longer be served by this program. They say people who need to move will be supported by the Regional Center to make the necessary changes, and the letter assures us that there are possible options.

Does this mean Valerie? Maybe. Probably. She definitely has high medical needs, but they don’t actually do any medical care at the program. In fact, we contort her hydration and med schedule around her day there because they specifically do not give medication or deal with g-tubes.

Whether this means us or not, there are 20-30 people with high medical and support needs who will now have to be transitioned elsewhere. I – and the other folks who received this letter – will just have to wait until Monday when we can speak to someone at the program to find out what’s coming next.

This week the Budget Conference Committee will meet, look at the Senate and Assembly proposals, and come up with one that everyone agrees on to send to the Governor. Listen up, Conference Committee…Day Programs are shrinking before our eyes. We need help urgently, we need it across the board and we need it NOW.

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