Friday, August 9, 2019

Is There More to Say to DDS about the Health Initiative?

At the D.C. Developmental Disabilities Council meeting yesterday, a representative from Deputy Mayor Turnage’s office repeated an offer already made to, and rejected by, advocacy groups in a meeting with the deputy mayor on Monday – namely, that the D.C. government is willing to schedule weekly listening sessions between DDS director Reese and advocates between now and the end of August to hear about any specific shortcomings in the proposed transition plan ( . However, there is no offer to extend the Georgetown contract beyond its August 31 end date unless advocates can demonstrate that an emergency extension is needed in order to address clear gaps in the transition plan – a very tall order given limited time and the interconnectedness of the services Georgetown has provided.

There was also a whiff of this offer in Andy Reese’s closing remarks Wednesday on the Kojo Nnamdi show (   However, this “clean up” effort is not what anyone in the advocacy community had in mind in remarks at the July 23 roundtable hosted by Brianne Nadeau (  In the DD Council statement I delivered (as DD Council chair) at the roundtable, we pointed out that “the transition plan just issued by DDS [on July 19] was made public far too late for adequate discussion to take place on the representations it makes about plans to ensure Health Initiative services are appropriately sustained.  A transition plan for such an essential set of services needs to be created in partnership with people receiving services and other stakeholders, and this unfortunately has not been the case.”  Now the DC government is offering three weeks.

At the same roundtable, Quality Trust’s Phyllis Holton testified, “The best transition plan would be one that was informed by community engagement – and integrates the perspective and experiences of impacted stakeholders, including service providers, people with disabilities, family members, and advocates.”  Nothing – not even a limited extension, much less the year or more advocated by some – is being offered in order to allow for this sort of input and dialogue.  While the deputy mayor’s office yesterday acknowledged it “fumbled” in this case, no remedy is being offered beyond listening sessions as the clock ticks down to the contract’s expiration.

Over a month ago, the DD Council offered to facilitate a conversation between DDS and the advocacy community, and that offer was renewed in my statement on July 23.  DDS has shown no interest in this approach, instead allowing the clock to keep ticking.  So here we are.  Tell me what you think: 

·       Should the advocacy community refuse to engage in further discussions, in the face of a near-term deadline and little prospect of any give in the government’s perspective; or
·       Is it worthwhile to talk further with Andy (at a time and place of the community’s, not DDS’, choosing) as the summer, and the contract, wind down, in hopes of convincing him to make limited last-minute adjustments?

Time to make yourselves heard.

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