The Associated Press has reported that due to budget constraints, state workers have suggested that people with developmental disabilities be left at homeless shelters if they cannot be cared for at home. The Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) responded that workers who said this would be disciplined.
No family who cares for a loved one with a developmental disability such as autism, Down syndrome, or cerebral palsy should ever be told that a homeless shelter is an option. But, punishing state employees will not address a very real problem.
The real problem is that viable options are not being made available to families due to Indiana’s revenue short fall and changes in state policy. Families in need are facing a crisis in receiving critical services.
Supports to families to care for loved ones at home and supports to people in residential programs are primarily funded through the Medicaid waiver program. The current state budget allocated funds to match federal Medicaid dollars to provide supports to families in crisis and bring people off years long waiting lists, but funds have been held back or cut in light of the state’s fiscal crisis.
In difficult times the quickest response is to cut funds and deny services. But real needs do not go away. Parents will die; young adults will leave school and need supports so parents can work; children will be born with severe disabilities – life goes on.
The system of services for people with developmental disabilities has been in crisis for months. That fact can no longer be ignored.
At this critical time, it is important that we not simply react, but that we act. The Arc of Indiana knows that changes can be made – some that are fairly simply and some that will take focused efforts - that can save funds and allow the state to serve people in need.
Working for positive systems change is the key component of The Arc’s Building Pathways Campaign. We remain committed to the campaign and working with the state, families and other advocates to implement real solutions and bring critical services to families.