There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.Robert M. Hensel
It has been 35 years since President Ronald Reagan made a formal proclamation that the month of March would be recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Three years after that, in 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed that helped to advance the rights of millions of Americans with developmental disabilities. Currently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1 in 6 children and 1 in 4 adults in the United States are living with a developmental disability.
With all the proclamations, acts, and exposure we’ve had, one would think we’d be further along with putting into place the necessary services, programs, opportunities and funding that would truly allow persons with a developmental disability to have the lives of connection, contribution, and meaning they deserve. There’s no doubt that there have been some positive changes for individuals with disabilities over the last few decades, and we are grateful for those changes. However, the truth is that those changes were just the basic building blocks and there are so many people that were not even exposed to them!
The state’s financial situation has just recently become more stabilized and positive. The years of economic variability, indebtedness, and downgrading of our bond status had led to years of minimal rate increases which meant our funding became increasingly inadequate. We’re finally coming off an FY22 budget that made a historic investment in I/DD services and supports, and we need to ensure that the legislature continues this trend.
The picture on the cover of the March/April issue is of The Leaflet is of me and Carol, a beautiful, caring woman that just passed after living in one of our homes for 31 years. In addition to Carol, we’ve sadly had several other precious individuals pass away from natural causes over the past year. It was an honor and privilege to serve these persons, and I always find myself asking, “Did we do enough for them?”, “Did we have the financial support to give them the lives they deserved?”
Over the next month as you receive advocacy alert emails from me, please follow through and reach out to your legislators imploring them to increase funding for the inspirational individuals we support, as well as a living wage for our heroic employees.
Who knows, maybe someday we won’t need a Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and we’ll just have a Human Beings Awareness Year! That would be cool! Please have a safe and joyful Spring and Easter!