Want to advocate, but don’t know where to start?
Do you wish you knew how to make your voice heard?
Have you got just a few minutes?
Watch this short video to find out how easy it can be to get involved!
See an example of how a mom made her voice heard here:
The 2021 legislative session has begun! Stay informed! The links to bills we are tracking, budget proposals and the weekly hearing schedule are below.
The Arc of Washington State strives to help every individual with an intellectual and/or developmental disability (I/DD) and their family members to have opportunities to provide input to policy-makers in our state. Click here to find out who represents you.
The Arc partners with many other groups such as self-advocates in Self Advocates in Leadership (SAIL), People First of Washington and Allies in Advocacy. Parents of both children and adults connect through Parent to Parent, Parent Coalitions and local chapters of The Arc. The Community Advocacy Coalition is another avenue for statewide partnerships with self-advocates, parents, providers of community services essential to people with developmental disabilities, and other advocates including Community Residential Services Association (CRSA), Community Employment Alliance (CEA), Disability Rights Washington (DRW).
The state legislature provides the funding for many supports and services for children and adults with I/DD through agencies such as the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT), the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and Aging and Long-Term Services Administration (ALTSA).
Most of the services offered through DDA are funded in partnership with the federal Medicaid program through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Unfortunately, only two programs are an entitlement, meaning that if an individual meets the qualification criteria, the state must provide the services. One of the programs is Community First Choice which offers personal care services such as assistance with bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting and other necessary Activities of Daily Living (ADL). The other program is placement in an Intermediate Care Facility (ICF), which are part of the state’s institutions for people with I/DD called Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC).
The vast majority of the estimated 117,000 people in our state who have I/DD live at home, most of them with their families. The services they most need and want, such as respite, residential services, employment supports and more are not entitlements and are funded only if the Legislature chooses each year to fund services for SOME of them. More than 13,000 people, who qualify for services, are on what is called the “No Paid Services” caseload, many who have been waiting for years to receive services.
HUGE CUTS COMING! The 2021 – 2023 biennial budget (for 2 years) is now be worked on. Each state agency was required to submit their budget request to the Governor’s office by September 14, 2020. The Governor will use those requests to put his budget proposal together, which will be made public in mid-December of 2020. Because of the drastic impact the pandemic has had on our economy, agencies were told to include cuts that amount to 15% of their budget. Between elimination of clients by changing eligibility and the elimination or reduction of other programs, 8,100 individuals with a developmental disability will be impacted by these cuts. Take a look at the proposed cuts by clicking here.
The Advocacy Partnership Project holds Advocacy Days every week during legislative session. We can help with transportation costs (first come, first served) so that no matter what part of the state you live in, you can come to Olympia and let legislators know how important this funding is! Our Hot Tips booklet gives you great ideas of easy ways to be involved and is available in both English and Spanish.
Policy bills are also proposed during legislative session that can have major impacts on people with DD and their families. That’s why advocacy is so important. People with I/DD have a huge impact right now through this grassroots advocacy effort. Help us keep the pressure on legislators to do the right thing!
Every year, statewide advocates identify public policy issues that affect individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. From these concerns, information and data is collected and compiled into user-friendly charts and documents that advocates can share with their elected representatives in the Legislature. Using that information, the Advocacy Partnership Project creates a Legislative Notebook for Developmental Disability Advocates each year before the legislative session begins. The Legislative Notebook is posted online each December. Click to access the current notebook. (The zip file opens with the notebook divided into sections. The files are in pdf format so you will need Adobe Reader to open and print them).
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