More than 360,000 Californians with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities live in our state; they are our neighbors, classmates, coworkers, family, and friends; however, their support structure has been grossly underfunded by $1.4 billion, as identified in the State’s 2019 Rate Study, and is crumbling. Direct support staff are quitting the field or working multiple jobs due to low wages, essential programs are closing throughout the state, and individuals are forced to live with inadequate supports or with no supports at all.
The proposal set forth by The Lanterman Coalition would begin to stabilize California’s crumbling developmental disabilities system, and maintain vital services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, while a longer-term plan is being developed. The four main provisions of this funding proposal include:
- Rate increase over three year period to close the $1.4 billion funding gap
- Emergency funding for Early Intervention, Independent Living Skills, and Social Recreational programs made retroactive to January 1, 2020
- Immediate adjustments for state minimum wage increases
- Removal of the funding suspension date of July 1, 2023.
The chronic lack of funding has created a major social justice issue. For example, as a result of the significant underfunding:
- An estimated 28,000 programs have closed across the state, causing significant waitlists for services.
- Adults with developmental disabilities living in state-funded group homes are being displaced without their consent, and being forced to move from their communities, their families and friends.
- The funding shortage means service providers are unable to recruit and retain dedicated and skilled direct care professionals to adequately staff the system.
- Nearly 35% of direct care professionals are on Medi-Cal, are working at below poverty wages, receiving public food assistance, or working second jobs to earn enough money to provide for themselves and their families. 85% of these workers are women!
By adopting the multi-year funding proposal to close the $1.4 billion funding gap to the disabilties system, California can keep the promise of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act of 1977, and once again lead the nation in the fight for the equal rights and inclusion of those with IDD. When the Lanterman Act was passed, California became the birthplace of the American’s with Disabilities Act movement. We should be proud of our history and make sure we are in compliance with this powerful legislation that defines the service delivery system and safeguards the rights of those we care so much about.
We can protect the care for our fellow Californians with developmental disabilities and ensure they have access to the services they need to live full and productive lives.
Read more at: The Lanterman Coalition.