Friday, February 21, 2020

Disability at the DC Budget Engagement Forum Last NIght

We needed more disability advocates at the budget engagement forum with the mayor at UDC last night!  The folks who get the most attention are the ones who show up in matching T-shirts and spread out across all the tables.   

I know many of you had turned out for the February 18 forum on Franklin Street NE, and hopefully more of you will be at the final one tomorrow morning at the Kenilworth rec center (  I saw Andy Reese, DDS director, and Alison Whyte, DD Council executive director, there, but it’s important to have a groundswell of determined advocates who can make a lot of noise!  I've heard there was an overflow room - maybe you were there and I missed you?*

I made my views known about funding the DSP bill (see more at and about expanding eligibility for DDS disability supports to people with autism and other developmental disabilities (, both at my table and in a direct conversation with the mayor as well.  I was pleased that our issues made it into my table’s priorities and I found new allies in colleagues who care about early childhood education and immigrant rights, but I would have liked to hear other tables reporting out more on disability-related issues as well.  I was tweeting furiously the hashtags #FundtheDSPWageAct ( and #DDeligibilityDC (, and I appreciate those of you who retweeted or liked my @DDinWDC tweets (  Let’s keep the groundswell going!

*Thanks to Ian Paregol from the DC Coalition, who was apparently at a neighboring table, and also thanks to others who've let me know they were redirected to overflow!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Another Chance to Testify about D.C. Performance on Disability Issues: February 18

On Tuesday, February 11, councilmember Nadeau held a performance review hearing for the D.C. Office on Disability Rights (ODR) and the Department on Disability Services (DDS).  The link for the video of that hearing is here: – scroll down to the Committee on Human Services hearing on February 11 to view it.  There were many important witnesses at the hearing, but here is some of the key testimony:

You can submit written testimony until February 25 by email to HumanServices@DCCOUNCIL.US.  But the committee is also providing an opportunity for anyone who couldn’t attend the daytime hearing to come to the RISE center (2730 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE) on Tuesday evening, February 18, 6:00-10:00 p.m.:

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the need for DDS to expand eligibility for the I/DD Medicaid waiver across the spectrum of development disabilities (not just to those who meet an IQ cutoff) received a great deal of attention in this hearing.  If you’re on Twitter and you want to let the mayor (@MayorBowser) and the committee chair (@BrianneKNadeau) know you care about this issue, use hashtag #DDeligibilityDC, or retweet my texts @DDinWDC .  Also let the mayor know you care about this at one of her budget engagement forums ( and while you’re there, ask the mayor to fund bill 23-0214 (!

I’ll see you at next Thursday night’s budget forum, at UDC!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tell Mayor Bowser Next Week: People with Developmental Disabilities Need Her Support!

Next week, Mayor Bowser will be holding budget engagement forums ( to help her administration shape the D.C. budget for the fiscal year starting in September.  Find the forum nearest to you, and attend. 

Your message:  Supports from the DDS Developmental Disabilities Administration must not be limited to people with an intellectual disability. People with other developmental disabilities need to be eligible for the I/DD waiver administered by DDS.

Yesterday’s hearing before the D.C. council’s Human Services Committee attracted an impressive turnout of witnesses, about half of whom came out to tell committee chair Brianne Nadeau that it’s time to extend eligibility for the I/DD waiver to people with autism and other developmental disabilities in the District.  But when it came time for DDS Director Andy Reese to testify, the councilmember asked if a bill would need to be passed by the council in order to make this change. Andy said yes, and that was that.  This is where the conversation always ends.  Not everyone agrees that DDS’ hands are tied without specific legislation, but even if that’s the case, nothing except a lack of political will prevents the administration from presenting a bill to the council to make this change:  after all, they did it two years ago with the Disability Services Reform Amendment Act calling for a rollback of civil commitment.

When I first started this blog back in 2014, the memory of the Developmental Disabilities Reform Act, which died in the D.C. council in December 2010, was still relatively fresh (  And in late 2015, the issue was still alive as then-committee chair Yvette Alexander asked DDS for a report on what it would mean to expand services:  But it just drifted away.  Now, it’s clear we’re all just going to keep circling around on this issue, since DDS insists a bill is needed but has no intention of presenting one.

We have to take it to the mayor, folks.  Get out there and let the mayor and her budget folks hear that expanding eligibility for the I/DD waiver is a priority!  It’s a matter of justice.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Project ACTION! and an Important Healthcare Survey

An observant reader asked that I send an additional reminder about Saturday's (tomorrow's) Project ACTION! meeting (Feb. 8, 10-12, at the Kennedy Institute, 801 Buchanan St. NE).  This is an important monthly meeting of self-advocates, and worth every minute!

This month, after the meeting lunch will be provided, and then the Georgetown University School of Medicine’s Community Based Learning will hold a focus group on healthcare experiences - communication problems or other barriers - of people with developmental disabilities in our community.   The information they collect will help generate recommendations to improve education for healthcare providers in the D.C. area, so a good turnout will have a great payoff!

Come to the Kennedy Institute tomorrow!  Don't miss it - and don't miss next Tuesday either (see my last post, below) -

Thursday, February 6, 2020

DDS Performance, Fair Wages for DSPs, and Progress Toward D.C. Statehood!

First off, go back and re-read my January 23 blog post:  There is such a lot happening in February!  

I know everyone reading this will be in room 412 of the Wilson Building for the hearing on DDS performance at 10:00 Tuesday, February 11.  Here’s the link on the D.C. council website:  Contact the Human Services Committee at if you’d like to testify.  Here's some late-breaking news, DDS answers to the committee's questions:  I’ll be testifying on behalf of the Developmental Disabilities Council (, and I look forward to seeing you there!

At the very same time on February 11, the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY), will meet to consider and mark up H.R. 51, the “Washington, D.C. Admission Act” (see D.C. Representative Norton’s announcement here:  You’ll remember the hearing back in September that was presided over by the late Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland ( - it was only due to his untimely passing that consideration of the bill has taken this long – it has more than enough sponsors to pass in the House! 

I’m also very happy to report that bill 23-0214, the Direct Support Professional Payment Rate Act of 2019, received its final (favorable) vote in the D.C. council at the legislative meeting, on February 4.  So from here on, the issue is whether the bill will be funded – and you’ll be hearing plenty more about this next Tuesday if you come!  If you don’t know what this bill is about, enter “DSP” in the Search box over to the right at the very top, and you’ll find all the information you could want.

Before closing, I want to remind folks of some links you’ll want to keep handy:

-          The DDS complaint process, whose development has been under way for some time, is now up and running, as of January 1.  The link is here:  The new system was announced in a memo from Kirk Dobson (, who succeeded Erin Leveton as deputy director of the Quality Assurance and Performance Management Administration in November.  (Current DDS organizational chart:

-          Also, periodically people approach me with questions for people they know who need some sort of support but don't know which agency can help.  They should be told about the DC Support Link,, also known as No Wrong Door.  For anyone you encounter who is trying to obtain services but is not sure which agency to approach, this is the place to go first.

See you 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 11 at the Wilson Building!