Thursday, February 23, 2023

My February 16 Testimony



 Madame Chair and other councilmembers, thank you for allowing me to appear today before the newly formed Committee on Facilities and Family Services.  The DC community of disability advocates has had a fruitful relationship with the Committee on Human Services in recent years, and we look forward to the same constructive relationship with this committee.

 My name is Carol Grigsby. My son has received long-term disability supports through DDS since 2014, and in that same year I began my blog, DDinWDC (, in which I continue to cover key issues affecting people with developmental disabilities and their families.  I rotated off DC’s federally-mandated Developmental Disabilities Council in December, but during my tenure as DDC chair and then as advocacy co-chair, I was proud, with other advocates, to achieve successful passage of the historic Developmental Disability Eligibility Reform Amendment Act, among other important initiatives.  You are hearing today from other advocates who are tracking implementation of The DDERAA, whose intent is to ensure essential services for all those who need them.  In my limited time, I will focus on three pressing issues that directly affect the welfare of my own son and others now receiving or about to receive long-term supports from DDS’s Developmental Disabilities Administration: 

-          The effects of the pandemic, coupled with the narrowing of the gap between DC’s minimum wage and living wage, have led to significant staffing shortages – 23% on average - among DC’s disability support providers.  Direct support professionals who remain on the job are drastically overburdened.  Please heed today’s testimony by Ian Paregol from the Coalition of Disability Service Providers with respect to the need for urgent and full implementation of the Direct Support Professional Payment Rate Act

  As the pandemic emergency winds down, DDS and providers are focused on reopening day programs to get people back out into the community.  However, this moment also provides an opportunity for DC as a whole to place enhanced emphasis on employment of people with disabilities with the workplace supports they need.  The DC government needs to start by setting an example for private businesses, by becoming a model employer of disabled people in its own hiring practices.  Not only DCHR, but also DCPL, should be dedicated to this goal. 

-           People receiving residential supports from DDS have received a flat $100 monthly personal needs allowance since 2007 – with no cost-of-living allowance, or COLA.  A decision last month provides for a COLA to be applied to the personal needs allowance for people in intermediate care facilities and nursing homes, but in order to apply a COLA for people in supported living, such as my son, or in community residences, there must be explicit action as part of the budget process.  Year-on-year erosion in people’s personal allowance must not be allowed to continue, and we look to you to help remedy this injustice.

I would not be in a position to advocate as I do if my son were not receiving DDS supports, and I would like to thank Andy Reese, Winslow Woodland, my son’s service coordinator and others in DDS for continuing to pursue improvements in quality control, DDA/RSA collaboration, and other initiatives to achieve more meaningful inclusion of disabled people in our DC community.  Thank you.


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