Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stepping It Up

"PHOENIX – (March 11, 2009) Today, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Hellman issued a preliminary injunction against the Department of Economic Security (DES) preventing the agency from implementing $16.8 million in general fund reductions, including the suspension of non-residential, state-funded services to more than 4,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities and various rate reductions to providers of services to those individuals.
The following is the Department’s statement regarding today’s ruling:
The Department will, of course, abide by the court's ruling, however, we intend to appeal the decision and ask the court to stay the injunction.
The Department’s planned $16.8 million reduction was a result of the lump sum reduction and fund transfers that were part of the special session, as well as unfunded, caseload-driven shortfalls in various programs. The total reduction to DES in the 2009 fiscal year was approximately $153 million.
Information about the budget reductions and impact to children, adults and families is available on the Department’s Web site, ." (emphasis mine)

While the injunction is a major victory because it will keep services going for the time being, families and providers are NOT out of the woods yet. As the press release states, the Department intends to ask for a stay so that they can appeal the court's decision.
Because of this, now is not the time to let our guards down. Its the time to keep making noise. Contact those making the decisions. Keep talking about how important these services are, and how discontinuing services hurts kids and families, and violates federal law. Here some specific next steps:

1. Everyone needs to call OSEP 202-245-7549 This is Patty Guard's number, she is the acting director for OSEP (the office of special education programs in the department of education). Tell her you are from Arizona, your child has an IFSP under Part C and your services have been ____________ . Tell her how your procedural safeguards have not been enforced ____________ _________ _____ and that you expect OSEP to assist Arizona in understanding the assurances it made when it took the $9.9 million in federal dollars to administrate this program.

2. Flood the Governor's office with calls, tell her you cannot believe that providing essential supports and services to children and adults with disabilities was not included in the latest round of budget negotions for FY 2009. Here is the contact info for her office.

3. Call your Congressmember and tell them to tell OSEP to stop watching what' s happening in Arizona and get INVOLVED. Tell them to tell Arizona that they cannot violate children's procedural safeguards, that eliminating services to children who have legally binding IFSPs is illegal and OSEP must tell Arizona to enforce your child's IFSP. Here are the contact pages for John Kyl, John McCain, the House of Representatives,

4. Again call your local legislators and tell them they must restore these services ASAP. Here is contact info for the AZ House of Representatives, the AZ Senate, and the AZ State Legislature.

(Remember your child's IFSP is to be individualized and based on your family's priorities, concerns and resources and that all decisions to changes services must be made by the TEAM, which includes you as your child's parents. You are to be provided Prior Written Notice, before any proposed change and you have the right to dispute resolution if you disagree with any proposed change and you have the right to pendancy (your previously agreed upon services continue during the dispute resolution process).
Send your letters to:
DES/AzEIP - disputes
3839 N 3rd St, Suite 304
Phoenix, AZ 85016

DDD Compliance and Review Unit
1789 W Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Peri Jude Radecic - AzEIP disputes
Arizona Center for Disability Law
5025 E Washington St, Suite 202
Phoenix, AZ 85034
*Credit for this list goes to Maureen Casey of the EIFA

Feel free to repost any of the information here. I'm blogging about this to get the word out about how important EI is and what we can do to make sure these programs stay around for those who need them.
PS- I am still adding links to my blogroll. If you will be affected by these cuts, or if you have blogged about this issue, leave a comment anywhere and I'll add your link to the list in my sidebar.

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