Board for Developmental Disabilities
2014 Legislative Priorities
The 24th annual Legislative Forum focused on building self sufficiency and strengthening communities by maintaining existing community services and addressing the growing issues of unserved individuals who are currently on the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Developmental Disabilities Administration’s (DDA) caseload, but do not receive paid support services.
Maintaining the Current Funding Commitment to Essential Core Community Based Services
While progress has been made, there is still work to do. People with developmental disabilities (DD) and their families face obstacles in their lives. Data shows it costs three times as much to raise a child with special needs than a typically developing child. In order to receive just a little bit of help, families must enter a bureaucratic public system that is very difficult to navigate. Many people are still isolated, segregated, and experience discrimination. Washington State is ranked 38th in the nation in fiscal effort in providing support to people with DD according to the State of the States report by Dennis Braddock.
Adequately Address Needs of the Early Intervention system for Infants and Toddlers with Developmental Delays
Early Intervention services are essential to the healthy development of infants and toddlers with developmental delays. The infant and Toddlers with Disabilities Program (Part C), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was created in 1986 to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with delays or disabilities, minimize potential developmental delay, and reduce educational costs to our society by minimizing the need for special education services as children with disabilities reach school age. Approximately 30 percent of the children in King County who receive Early Intervention services do not need special education services provided by the public school system upon exiting the Early Intervention system.
Expanding Funding for Adults to Find Employment and Increase Their Work Hours
For over two decades the Legislature has recognized the importance of funding employment services for students exiting school. The legislature's commitment to these services, in concert with the state's collaborative partnerships with counties, school districts, DSHS/DDA and the DSHS, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has enabled Washington State to obtain one of the highest rates of employment for persons with developmental disabilities in the nation.
Yet there are a number of adults age 21 and older who live in King County who are on a Medicaid Waiver, but do not receive employment or day services. In addition there are 872 adults in King County who are on the no paid services caseload and are eligible for services from DSHS/DDA. These individuals have the same need for services and supports as those receiving paid supports.
Employment provides the same benefits to individuals with an intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as it does to the typical population: meaningful activity, higher quality of life, increasing independence, self-satisfaction, social contacts, and a means to contribute to the community. Employment often results in less dependence upon government supports. Employment also provides families with a break from caring for the individuals with I/DD. Long term supports enable many individuals with I/DD to obtain and keep a Job.
Expanding Emergency Respite and Crisis Stabilization Services
Respite care serves two purposes: It is a crucial part of a crisis support system and it offers families regular, periodic relief from care giving. In the most recent Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council (2011-2012) survey of families with an adult son or daughter with a developmental disability living at home, 26 percent responded they did not have access to quality respite services. According to the report, "Many parents in our small discussion groups throughout the state voiced the same concern."
Many individuals and families in our state find themselves in crisis because of significant needs including difficult behaviors. Unfortunately some of these families have children under the age of 21 years and need intensive interventions. Historically, these families have been able to access Residential Habilitation Center (RHC) services if the situation is severe and meets the DSHS/DDA's qualification s for admission. A placement in an RHC can cost up to $653 per day ($200,000 per year) depending on the facility.
Addressing the Unserved
according to the Washington State Auditor's Office performance audit, there are more than 15,000 people who have applied and are eligible to receive service from DSHS/DDA; however, they do not receive any services from DSHS/DDA. Those on the No Paid Services caseload have been waiting an average of 3.5 years.
Supporting Living Services and Wage Parity
Supported Living provides residential support and advocacy for adults ages 18 and older who have an I/DD and live in King County. The objective of this program is to provide participants with the opportunity to live an inclusive, self-directed life and to maintain their status and independence in a community of their choosing. The program is funded by the State of Washington for those who qualify or may be contracted privately.
Access and Availability of Special Needs Transportation
Legislators have held listening sessions throughout the interim on the subject of transportation options and improvements. Public comments dealt with asking for improvements to our transportation system and removing mobility barriers. As many people have recognized transportation is vastly underfunded and in particular special needs transportation. This comes at a time when the demand is growing, rural areas with no fixed transit routes are particularly underserved and services in King County are also struggling due to cut-backs.
Adults with disabilities are twice as likely as those without disabilities to lack access to adequate transportation. Nationally, over two million people with disabilities never leave their homes. Of those individuals with I/DD 560,000 do not leave home due to transportation difficulties.
The forum is available for viewing on TVW.