BUDGET CUTS BRING FEARS OF LOCKED HOSPITAL WARDS & HOMELESSNESS FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

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July 2, 2009 (San Diego)--Local nonprofit organizations serving people with autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities will drastically cut back on services, or be forced to close their doors if the state follows through on plans to further cut funding, according to a new survey.

 

The survey of 300 San Diego County providers conducted by the Developmental Disabilities Provider Network, found that two thirds – 66 percent – said they would be forced to reduce services, fire staff and in some cases, entirely shut down operations, sending clients either to locked hospital wards, or in some cases, to the streets because other local providers will not have the capacity to accept new clients.

 

The survey was taken in the wake of news from the State Department of Developmental Services that an additional cut in funds of up to 7.1 percent may be passed down to organizations this September on top of the 3 percent cut instituted late last year as lawmakers attempted to pass a budget. Organizations have received cuts in other funding sources as well, and donations from foundation and private donors have forced some smaller organizations to consider changes in the way they have operated for decades in the community.

Elaine Lewis, executive director of Developmental Service Continuum, which operates 10 homes and provides support services for children and adults with developmental disabilities, says proposed cuts may mean making hard decisions about reducing services.

“An additional 7 percent reduction will have a significant impact on the level of services we now provide; our ability to endure and thrive is really going to be impacted. And keep in mind that we serve people in a home-based setting, state facilities can cost up to 17 times more.”

Other agency executives expressed similar concerns: Mark Berger of Partnerships With Industry, which helps individuals with developmental disabilities find employment, is afraid his clients won’t get jobs, and they’ll spend more and more time collecting social security instead of being taxpaying citizens.

 

Carol Fitzgibbons of Home of Guiding Hands, which has been providing housing and support for more than 40 years in East County, worries not only about the children and adults with developmental disabilities who receive services through her organization, but the more than 400 employees whose jobs are threatened. Tina Waters of the Community Coaching Center is concerned that further cuts will mean that parents trying to get their children with autism into her social skills program will face longer and longer waiting lists as her services are reduced even as the demand for them grows.

“If kids with autism lose their services, they tend to regress in their abilities,” explained Tracey Franks, whose 10-year-old son is a Community Coaching Center client. “I certainly don’t want my son to go back to negative patterns of behavior that we’ve worked so hard to extinguish. Because of this program, we can go to the store, to a restaurant, and that certainly wasn’t the case several years ago. This allows him to be a part of the community; we just can’t lose this.”

Other survey results show:

• 97% of those responding were negatively impacted by last year’s 3 % reduction in funding.

• 75% said they would continue to provide services for the next 12 months with a 3 % reduction in reimbursement rates.

• 66% said they could not continue to provide services with an additional 7% reduction in reimbursement rates. Some organizations stated they could survive just two-three months; others cited plans to reorganize and work to fund raise the shortfall.

• 73% of organizations providing day programs said their clients would have no other place to go to receive services if they close; 3% may be homeless as a result of the loss of the program.

• 41% of organizations providing supported living services so that clients are able to stay in their own homes said their clients would have no other place to go to receive services if they close; 12% may be homeless as a result of the loss of the program.

• Approximately 4,600 people with developmental disabilities will be impacted by cuts in services.

• 922 people will lose their jobs if organizations close or reduce services.
 

Comments

OPEN LETTER CONCERNING CUTS TO IHSS AND OTHER WELFARE PROGRAMS

To whome it may concern,

As your constituent I am writing to ask that you restore the funding for homecare through the In Home Supportive Services Program and the cuts already made to the SSI/SSP programs. Please do not allow the proposed cuts in these important programs to take effect on July 1st.
California needs valuable programs like In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) to continue to provide critical services to the elderly and disabled in this state. Even more so in troubled economic times, we need to invest in our citizens and our local economies. IHSS brings federal funds to the state and these funds are spent in local counties where they are earned. IHSS is not a welfare program, it provides real and much needed jobs. SSI/SSP is for the poor and disabled to live in their homes who are unable to work, to pay their rent, buy groceries and utilities, etc.We can barely liveon what we are given as it is , in this bad economy.

On a personal note, I just want to make you aware of my situation as a recipient of IHSS services and how the draconian cuts to them will affect me, my family and my provider/caregiver.
I am a 43 year old quadriplegic man with a very higher level of physical disability as a result of a motor vehicle accident 25 years ago. I have a complete spinal cord injury at the C5-6 level (in my neck). Basically, I need the use of a power wheelchair to get around. I have no use of my hands and cannot feel anything below my chest. I have to have help with nearly every activity in and around my home, including personal care. I need help with bowel and bladder care, bathing, dressing, cooking and meal prep, house cleaning, ambulatory services, and need full assist getting in and out of bed-chair-car, to the doctor, grocery store, etc. That’s the short list. I also suffer from occasional anxiety and depression because of my situation.
I was 19 years of age when I had my accident and had just graduated from Navy basic training when my accident happened. I applied for VA benefits, but was denied eligibility because my injury was “not service connected” and “not enough time in service”. So, I have had to depend on IHSS for my care all these years. I have no other choices.
My caregiver is so invaluable to me, that I would be either in a nursing home or worse if I didn’t have her services. I am ever so grateful for my independence (from nursing homes) and will do anything to keep and protect it. It is because of IHSS that she has a quality job and I get a better quality care at a considerable bargain to the state, by not having to live in an expensive nursing home - for the last 25 years.
I cannot understate my quality of life – such that it is – because of IHSS and being able to live at home. It could be considerably worse. I wouldn’t wish nursing homes on anyone except prisoners with a death sentence.
My caregiver and IHSS program has been the sole reason why I haven’t been rotting away in an expensive, government funded nursing home. Personally, I don’t think I would have lived 1 week in such a facility – I’m sure I would have ended my own life than suffer. No Kidding!!
I don’t have family in California that can help me with my care on a moments notice or who could help full time in any capacity, as they have their own families to care for.
Furthermore, cutting IHSS funding will take food off the table for my caregiver. She will probably quit at some point and look for a more lucrative job elsewhere. That will effect the quality of care I will receive and the quality of caregivers I can attract in the future. The paycheck that she earns, goes strait into the economy. When you cut the funds, she cuts her spending. And the economy suffers further.
Her union - The United Domestic Workers of America - has fought for several years to get theses workers a living wage in California as well as medical benefits. The cuts in IHSS will roll back 10 years in gains to these caregivers. She currently, earns $9.50 per hour.
That is still not a living wage in California. I cannot imagine anyone in government working at that wage level, but she does. Do you? Could you slash your wages that low and live on it too?
As I understand it, for every dollar the state cuts from the budget, the federal government gives three dollars LESS to the state. It seems the State is shooting itself in the foot! We need more money in this state, and this is a very regressive step in the wrong direction.
I am a person with a disability that won’t go away. I am not a pork barrel project that can be cut back in lean years. I have civil rights as a human being and a person with disabilities. I feel these rights are being trounced upon every time the budget gets slashed, because I feel targeted. It causes me high anxiety and I get depressed over it every July 1st.
The state legislature, and the governor, has every year that I can remember, either threatened or succeeded in cutting back state benefits. The State always tries to balance the budget over the backs of the state’s elderly and disabled.
I have watched as all the civil rights gains we as disabled people have fought for over many years, be treated as a budget liability and should be cut first. It’s damn shameful. I am convinced that some in the state government would like nothing more than for us to simply “go away” or die. Its harsh but true.
Instead, I believe the first cuts should be to the Illegal immigrants who have been mooching off of the welfare system for years! I voted for Prop 187 for this very reason. They are costing the state untold billions that they have no rights to. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say “We must support every undocumented immigrant at any cost”- and cut services from the poor and disable to make up the difference. I believe that the state is willing to protect the immigrants’ rights at the expense of the poor, elderly and disabled legal citizen’s. Do I sound angry yet??
Also, why are we Californians paying the most in the nation for our public schools, and getting the least net benefit for our money? Why not cut money there instead of the programs that I use that are proven effective? And what about those environmental oversight boards? What benefit do they provide that is cost-effective to keep?
I can think of many other state sponsored programs that need cutting, rather than the ones proposed by the Governor.
I would like to quote the State Treasurer, Bill Lockyer, on the Cuts to IHSS:
"I consider the suffering that would be caused by these particular cuts to be both severe and compelling. Further, the effect of these reductions would be greatly amplified by the fact the State would forego additional Federal matching and overmatching funds. For these reasons, I strongly urge the Governor and Legislature to reconsider at least these programmatic cuts before they take effect on July I."

Also I would like to quote Doug Moore, Executive Director of United Domestic Workers.
"This is a shameful day for California. Our governor and our legislative leaders have played a game of Russian roulette with the lives of nearly a half million of California 's most vulnerable citizens and the people who care for them at home. Today, the bullet was in the chamber. All this will do is bring more pain. Pain to the elderly, blind and disabled. Pain to low-income caregivers. And pain to California taxpayers when more people are forced out of home care and into more costly nursing homes. We can only hope that the legislature and the governor will heed the warning of State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and rescind the cuts in the In Home Supportive Services program."
The cuts being proposed are still disproportionately aimed at home care, while far more costly solutions like nursing homes and institutions are funded. Study after study shows that both the recipients and their families prefer home care to institutional care. These same studies show that homecare saves the state money.
You are elected to represent all Californians. I hope that after reading this communication you will take action to rescind the IHSS program cuts.
Mr. Schwarzenegger, I actually voted for you in the last two elections. I hope that you will represent me and this issue with full consideration of my comments herein.
For myself and all those who need and use these services and the employees, I implore you to look elsewhere to save money and restore our IHSS funding to pre-cut levels. Our lives are depending on it.
Please keep me informed on your position and votes that affect this issue.

Sincerely,

James Weber

cc: Governor Schwarzenegger
cc: Senator Dennis Hollingsworth
cc: Assemblyman Joel Anderson