Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lanterman Act Erosion

In California, services to children and adults with developmental
disabilities are determined by the Lanterman Act. As a result of the
Lanterman Act, Regional Centers were designed to assist individuals
with disabilities throughout their lives. Case managers get to know
the children when they are young and collaborate with them and their
families throughout their lives, connecting them with the community
services they need. The Lanterman Act states: "The State of California
accepts a responsibility for persons with developmental disabilities and
an obligation to them which it must discharge." As the state's budget has been imploding, legislators and the governor are aiming their axe everywhere, including the Lanterman Act.

In an attempt to keep the State solvent, the Department of
Developmental Services was asked to cut $330 million out of its budget. The Department came up with a list of proposed cuts that, if signed into law
by Governor Schwarzenegger, will affect people with disabilities immediately. The proposed cuts include: restricted access to Early Intervention
services, a cap on respite hours, limits on choice in service providers and
the elimination of social/recreational support. A full summary of the
proposed cuts is available here.

Advocates for the developmentally disabled fear that these cuts will
not only harm individuals with developmental disabilities, but also
undermine the Lanterman Act itself. The Lanterman Act assures that
the needs of individuals with disabilities will be met and that they
will have a say in what happens in their lives.

Now is the time to remind our legislators of the importance of the
Lanterman Act, and that California has a civic and moral
responsibility to uphold its commitment to its citizens with
developmental disabilities. You can contact your legislators here.
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