Become an advocate!
Become an advocate!
More than 360,000 Californians with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities live in our state; they are our neighbors, classmates, coworkers, family, and friends; however, their support structure has been grossly underfunded by $1.4 billion, as identified in the State's 2019 Rate Study, and is crumbling. Direct support staff are quitting the field or working multiple jobs due to low wages, essential programs are closing throughout the state, and individuals are forced to live with inadequate supports or with no supports at all. The COVID-19 pandemic has exasperated the challenges and put this population and their support system at high risk.
Together, we are working to protect the health and safety of those with disabilities during this public health crisis.
In June 2020, during a global public health crisis, the Governor passed a budget plan based on the recommendation of the Legislature that rightly prioritized Californians most vulnerable to COVID-19 and offered a thoughtful solution to draconian cuts proposed in the Administration’s May revisions to the 2020-21 budget.
The Administration and Legislature upheld the promise of The Lanterman Act to not to leave people with disabilities behind, especially during a time of crisis.
As a coalition of statewide and regional associations and organizations representing people with I/DD and their families, we proudly unite our voices as The Lanterman Coalition. We stand together in our fight for the preservation of the Lanterman Act and advocate for the rights of individuals with I/DD, their families, and the systems that support them across the state.
Through the Lanterman Act, California provides services and supports to more than 360,000 individuals with I/DD, including infants, children, and adults. In response to COVID-19, the service and support system across the state quickly mobilized to meet the unique needs of individuals with disabilities, who the CDC has recognized as an especially vulnerable population to coronavirus. Through innovation and collaboration, service provides across the state pivoted to providing alternative support services remotely. However, individuals and families continue to experience financial stress, lack access to technology, and are experiencing a deterioration of mental and physical health due to the lack of regular in-person, nonresidential day services.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, direct support staff turnover was high due to low wages, essential programs were closing across the state, and regional center caseload ratios were too high, all of which forced people to live with inadequate or no supports. Any cuts in funding for services that support people with I/DD and their families would significantly impact the disability system's ability to resume community-based services when the pandemic is over, and reduce SSI payments, and health care. Also, 150,000 direct support professionals in the state would face wage reductions and furlough days due to service rate reductions. Any reduction in funding in the 2021-22 budget would be a tragic and unconscionable response during a pandemic and will put more people at risk in the short-term, and further threaten the sustainability of services and supports in the future.
As California begins to find its new normal during this global pandemic, it will be even more important that we ensure continuity of support for people with I/DD. Without continued state budget support, many providers will not be able to continue to provide critical support and services for Californians with I/DD, regional centers will struggle to adequately coordinate services, and individuals and families will be left behind. While these are challenging times, we urge the Governor and our legislators to continue to prioritize our community.
People with I/DD cannot be overlooked. Click HERE to join us in the coming months by signing up to become an advocate and to share your story with us and our elected officials.
There are approximately 150,000 direct support professionals (DSP's) working in our state to support more than 330,000 Californian's with intellectual and developmental disabilities succeed in every aspect of their lives. Low rates for services, set by the state, directly impact DSP wages.
The state has set rates for the services it is legally obligated to provide to people with I/DD too low. We are being denied these vital services because of unfilled positions and high worker turnover.
Dolores Huerta and her grandchildren explain why disability rights are civil rights and why California's lawmakers must #KeepThePromise
"Our son, David, has autism and significant difficulties with language and needs 24-hour staff support. In the last 27 months David has had 10 different support staff. For obvious reasons, this is not an ideal situation, and recruiting for David can be challenging due to the difficulties of communicating with him. Given the low wage rate with little opportunity for advancement, finding a higher paying job is always a prime motivation for staff to move on. There is always uncertainty about when the situation will resolve, and uncertainty is difficult for David and the rest of our family. The reassurance that would come with improvements for our direct support staff and knowing that the system is stable is priceless."
- Betsy Katz, Mom and President of The Arc of California
"I receive a paycheck twice a month. I work 120 hours plus each pay period and I bring home only $1500 at the most, usually less than that after taxes. I can't even afford my own place. I even started driving for Lyft to make ends meet. I love my job I enjoy going to work every day but it's not enough to survive."
- Anonymous Direct Support Professional, Solano County
The state is failing Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities, causing individuals and families to suffer without critical services and supports. Violating its legal requirement under the Lanterman Act, the state has chronically underfunded the community based organizations that provide services such as supported employment, independent living, family respite, and community integration. As a result, the workforce is leaving in masses - forced to leave the job they love because they struggle with poverty as a result of low wages - and programs are closing their doors. Instead of receiving the services they need to actively contribute to our communities, people are sitting at home without services and families are left abandoned by the state that promised to support them.
California's Lanterman Act passed in 1969. This law sought to end the long era of institutionalization by setting up the regional center system instead. This meant that people with I/DD could stay in their communities of origin instead of being removed to the segregated isolation of an institution. When this law passed state lawmakers promised to fund community based services and supports people with I/DD need to live full lives. Yet in recent years the state has failed to live up to its promise, leaving people with I/DD unsupported, isolated, and vulnerable.