I wrote recently (https://www.ddinwdc.com/2019/10/put-november-21-onto-your-calendar.html) about various advocacy meetings taking place this month with respect to the Department on Disability Services (DDS), as well as a broader visioning effort that the Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC) will be organizing later in the year.
Project ACTION! was rightly in the forefront of the meeting on October 10 concerning follow-up on cancellation of the Georgetown contract and ensuring advocacy groups are not blindsided about future such decisions. While I had characterized this as a meeting to plan a protest, in fact the meeting (at which I was not present) covered many other options, and there will be other upcoming discussions to narrow and prioritize the choices.
In response to criticisms leveled at DDS over recent months about inadequate consultation and communication, last Friday DDS director Andy Reese convened a meeting of the heads of several organizations including Project Action!, the Georgetown University Center, ULS/Disability Rights DC, Quality Trust, the State Rehabilitation Council and the DDC. This was a wide-ranging discussion, touching on such issues as why the many meetings DDS now holds are not leading to productive two-way communication, what specific challenges DDS is facing with respect to the structure and cost of the current home and community-based (HCBS) waiver, and how to begin structuring better consultation mechanisms. DDS is doing some internal work on these issues after which Andy says he’ll be following up on this session.
The two meetings described above represent efforts toward reaching across the current divide that became so apparent over the summer. However, in my last blog post I also mentioned DD Council plans to convene the first of a more far-reaching series of visioning meetings – focused on getting a better picture of the entire D.C. disability community in all its diversity and reimagining what true community integration should look like. At the DD Council public meeting on NOVEMBER 21 – KEEP THAT DATE ON YOUR CALENDAR – you’ll hear something about our plans for this series of meetings, but for now we’ve decided we need slightly more time for planning - so the first visioning meeting will not take place that day. While planning continues, and with a view toward starting to reach beyond the usual participants, you could be helpful by sending Alison Whyte, the DDC executive director, contact information for any local cultural and linguistic groups that may not normally get represented in our disability meetings, so that we can build the best contact list possible: that email is email@example.com. (The DD Council is a federally-funded and federally-mandated board that is housed in the D.C. Office of Disability Rights but is not part of the D.C. government: see more information by going to “Acronyms and Organizations You Should Know” under Pages, to the right of this post, or here: https://www.ddinwdc.com/p/blog-page.html.)
And now a word about the DSP salary legislation, B23-214, that received a hearing in the D.C. council’s human services committee in June: https://www.ddinwdc.com/2019/06/a-fair-deal-for-direct-support.html. If you’ve been alert you will have noticed articles on this topic in the Northwest Courier (https://nwc.news/) and Street Sense (https://www.streetsensemedia.org/) lately. My understanding is that this bill will be progressing through the D.C. council in the coming weeks, so weigh in with your council members – see https://www.ddinwdc.com/p/members-of-d.html or click on the “Contacting the D.C. Council” page over to the right to get contact information. And incidentally, if you get a chance to see the film “Invaluable” about the role of direct support professionals (DSPs), as I did with other friends at the Arc national convention last Saturday (https://www.ddinwdc.com/2019/10/film-saluting-direct-support.html), make sure you grab the opportunity next time!