Friday, February 27, 2009

They didn't listen after all...

Well apparently termination of service letters will be going out to families, but no one seems to be able to say when. The letters will supposedly say that they have 10 days of services left. Providers are worried that the DDD won't tell us when the letters go out, so I've been asking my families to let me know if or when they get one.
I've also learned that there was a lawsuit filed on behalf of all of the individuals, providers, and families affected by these cuts. I have it as a non-text PDF, but can't find it online anywhere that I could link to. Its pretty harsh, but its all true.
" explained here, the Legislature simply ordered severe cuts in essential services for severely disabled and vulnerable children and adults with developmental disabilities in violation of the Arizona Constitution and both federal and state statutes. This enactment was hurried, ill-considered, effectively shut out the public from the process, and provided the executive branch with no guidance, specifics, or designation of legislative priorities. In its rush, the Legislature mandated massive cuts in essential services with no concept of what would happen to epeople with severed siabilities, their families and care providers; and to the provider community, including whether provider services would remain available and accessible to consumers whose services were not intended to be cut. The way that DES-DDD proposes to implement the cuts will be disastrous to the health and safety of thousands of persons with developmental disabilities, and to the businesses that serve them...."
Where that leaves us, we don't know. Right now I think the plan is still to continue on until termination letters start arriving. When that might be, we have no idea. Overall, I think most of us are still in limbo/shock. Really, what we're being told is changing almost every day. Its hard to believe the DES could actually be cutting all of these services. Most estimates I've seen are that over 3000 families of kids ages 0-3 are going to lose all of their services (various combinations of EI, physical, occupational, and speech therapy). Besides the kids, that means most to all of those therapists and providers will have to take on new caseloads, if they can. I suppose there's still an outside chance that they'll decide to use stimulus money to keep the program funded (how's that for irony?), or that something else will happen.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Should I Bother?

That's been my question this week, every time I sit down to do something work-related. Do I bother putting together a few intake packets? What about the family I'm trying to start that hasn't been returning my phone calls? We are literally in a place where I could get a call tomorrow that it all goes kablooey as of Monday. Thankfully, that doesn't seem too likely since families haven't been getting termination letters. They ARE being told that authorizations won't be renewed, which means families won't be getting any new services, and many won't have services for much longer (most authorizations come up for renewal every 6 months). What's looking most likely right now, at least from my point of view, is that authorizations just won't be renewed, so kids will slowly drop off of the caseloads (mostly earlier than they should).
These are some pictures from the rally at the capitol building today. I don't know this woman, but I had to get a picture of her sign. I'd guess there were 400-500 people there- not a bad turnout for such short notice. And reasonably impressive when you squeeze them all into a fairly small outdoor area. :) There were also 2 news vans and at least one radio commentator that I saw walking around. I heard we were on both the 12 o'clock, and the evening news today, which is good. The more people see this and the less they are able to sneak it under the radar, the better. I did some searching and found a link to the video, but I'm having trouble embedding it, so here's the link.
I saw lots of families with young kids, and lots of adults receiving services. We tried to get in to talk to some of the senators and representatives, but were generally told that they were all in meetings, so we wound up leaving papers with secretaries and assistants. I saw a few important-looking people walking around appearing miffed that we were interrupting their day. Near the end of the day I ran into a speech therapist I know, and she said she'd been told that at least one senator was refusing to see people or take phone calls.

Here's our whole crew from Mosaic. I'm really happy that people from all of the different departments turned out, including the executive director and the HR lady. Granted, these cuts will affect everyone across the board, although differently. Really, though, the only person we left in the office was the receptionist.

Partway through the afternoon we went into the main area, thinking that the meetings and speeches were going to be here. We were wrong, but it was good for everyone to know we were there. :) One of the senators recognized all of the people from the disability community, so we all hooted and hollered a bit.
Once we realized we were in the wrong place, we hustled into the hearing rooms, where we got to listen in via closed circuit video. The hearings that were scheduled to start at 2pm actually started closer to 2:45. First they grilled someone about the cuts to higher education funding, then it was DES' turn. Some of what was said went over my head, but a fair amount of it made me want to scream. They basically said the cuts were going to hurt children, deny federally-mandated services, decimate the small businesses and nonprofits that provide services, and have more kids needing help when they are school-aged. And yet, they claim they have no other option for making up the budget shortfall.
So really, we did what we could. Letters and e-mails are still being sent, and we showed up and made ourselves heard. Oh, and I have a sunburn.