In my experience, most people want a connection. They want to belong to something, to be connected to others – and that’s true for people with disabilities, too. I was thinking about this topic again due to the inspirational presentation by Erik Carter of Vanderbilt University at The Arc’s Summer Leadership Institute in Philadelphia.
Today is one of those good days. Yesterday afternoon, we celebrated the positive news from the State House’s Conference Committee led by Chairs Jeffrey Sanchez and Karen Spilka. The conferees gave us the highest funding possible from the two versions of the budget released earlier this session. At 7:57 pm last night, Mike Moore’s office gave us word that the Senate had passed Nicky’s Law – a registry bill which will prevent staff who have abused adults in the Dept. of Developmental Services (DDS) program or service to work in another DDS setting.
- Nationally, the spotlight on food stamps continues, as the House once again attempts to reduce SNAP. The program, through states, helps people with disabilities and families who don’t have enough food.
- Statewide, we have over $5 million in services at stake as the Conference Committee debates the final budget. These resources directly affect people’s ability to obtain employment, family supports, and adult family/foster care.
- MassHealth changes are also in process and coming soon.
The Arc has tried to help people directly (through advocacy) and indirectly (through information) to address the massive change affecting 1,178,906 people through the introduction of private health plans for obtaining MassHealth funded health care. Active plan choosers – individuals who evaluated which plan may be the right fit for them – totaled near 20%. What worries us, therefore, is the number of people who were automatically enrolled into plans and may have to find new specialists for their chronic conditions.
Released this week, FINDS 2017 is a report on the status of 3,398 caregivers (majority are parents) who care for a family member with an intellectual or developmental disability. The Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports Community Report is a collaborative effort between The Arc and the Institute for Community Integration at the University of Minnesota. Some key findings include:
A father denies the existence of his own son who has a disability. This was not unusual in the 1950s or 1960s. But when the man is legendary playwright Arthur Miller – who wrote The Crucible to spotlight scapegoating during the McCarthy era, as well as other commentaries on our society – it becomes a major story.