Mayor Bowser’s budget for the upcoming year is facing challenges, and that could spell trouble for the budget of the Department on Disability Services (https://dds.dc.gov/). That’s why I joined a number of others at the hearing April 4 before the D.C. city council’s human services committee to testify that the council should support the entire budget. You can find the video of that hearing at http://dc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=4972. I led off the testimony on DDS, which starts around minute 45:00, and this time I testified in my capacity as chair of the D.C. Developmental Disabilities Council (https://ddc.dc.gov). I thought that was important because DDS needs strong support in order to ensure the council isn’t tempted to make any cuts. In addition to pushing for support to this year’s budget, though, I also made a point of urging the council to begin moving to broaden eligibility for the D.C. disability waiver – determining eligibility based on IQ is an outmoded and inappropriate way to determine people’s needs – so that autistic people and those with other developmental disabilities can get the supports they need.
The housing policies and procedures have been back on the agenda at DDS as well. There have been some improvements in transparency, specificity and flexibility, but DDS needs to make sure its service coordinators are really prepared to guide people through the process and the issues that are going to arise, and DDS has to do all it can to mitigate the risks over which it has control. Search “housing” in the box to the right to see my earlier posts on this subject! These policies are going to happen – that’s clear – because of DDS concerns about unforeseen increases in its past budgets. The initial rollout wasn’t handled well, and the road is not going to be easy, but it’s true that DDS has to take steps to enable it to serve more people who are currently going without support.
I’m writing this on a break at this year’s national Disability Policy Seminar (https://disabilitypolicyseminar.org/), sponsored by the Arc (https://www.thearc.org/), Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (https://www.sabeusa.org/), and others. Ricardo and Donna Thornton brought everyone to their feet this morning when they told their story of what community integration has meant to them! Take a look:
Back to the budget, and now it’s your turn! I hope you’ll feel moved to send your own testimony in support of the budget and broader waiver eligibility to email@example.com! This is important, and getting more so – make it short, but let the committee hear you on this!
Carol Grigsby shares information and advocates on issues affecting her own son and other citizens with developmental disabilities in Washington, D.C. She is currently chair of D.C.'s State Council on Developmental Disabilities, as well as serving on the board of the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities and on the Family Support Council of D.C.'s Department on Disability Services. She retired from the federal government’s senior executive service in 2011 and has lived in D.C. since 1978. Find her tweets @DDinWDC!