Next week, Mayor Bowser will be holding budget engagement forums (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mayor-muriel-bowser-presents-the-2020-budget-engagement-forums-tickets-89658337501) 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 (https://www.ddinwdc.com/2014/12/). 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: https://dds.dc.gov/release/dds-report-committee-health-and-human-services-re-fy16-budget. 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.