Thursday, February 18, 2010

Opinion: Budget Crisis Threatens People With Disabilities

Check out this opinion piece by Gary Blumental, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, from The Daily News Tribune. Seems like a similar column could be written for virtually every state.

The nation's economic collapse has been painful for all Americans, but for people with disabilities, unable to survive without some level of government assistance, the last 18 months have been catastrophic.
Though the people of the commonwealth have been legendary in their compassion and support for people with disabilities, the disabled have been stung by loss of employment and of their homes. As state revenues have receded back to 2006 levels, programs that helped people with disabilities earn the dignity of a paycheck have been slashed by millions of dollars, leaving people without jobs or forcing them back to the dependence and charity of others instead of being empowered wage earners.
The commonwealth's FY 2011 budget, as recommended by Gov. Deval Patrick, contains especially tragic consequences for people with developmental disabilities. Unless restored by the Massachusetts Legislature, more than 1,600 people and their families will lose service on July 10.
Cuts for people with developmental disabilities include:
- 300 people losing their homes and residential supports;
- 35 group homes being shuttered;
- 450 people losing their jobs and employment training;
- 1,000 families losing individual, family and respite services;
- 400 families losing minimal help for their disabled child to keep the child in the home and out of a costly out-of-home placement.

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