Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
As the Secretary of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Special Education Community Advisory Committee - (CAC), I tape record each meeting and type out the minutes. I send them to the Specialist, Parent-Community Liaison at the District where it gets read and then sent to Translation Unit for the Spanish edition.
For the September meeting the presentation was from a lawyer at one of the Southern California branches of the Office of Client's Rights Advocacy - (OCRA) with the topic, "Navigating Services Through Tough Economic Times". While transcribing I researched the topics she covered and added those links at the bottom of the minutes.
There was such a wealth of information that I felt it would be beneficial to readers who live and work in the State of California, plus those considering the move due to the Regional Center system and In Home Supportive Services, also known as IHSS.
OCRA provides free legal services to people with developmental disabilities with one representative at each Regional Center location in the State. Forty years ago there were only two Regional Centers. The presentation started by covering the changes that took place over the summer due to the California State budget.
The Early Start Program eligibility and services were curtailed. Families now have to use private insurance in early Start for the first time. There is a whole new program being developed called The Prevention Program that is roling out on October 1, 2009. It will be administered by the Regional Center.
This is for children who are at risk for developmental disabilities, who used to be eligible for Early Start. This is children with biomedical conditions, preemies, low Apgar scores, drug and alcohol infected babies. They will now qualify for this new Prevention Program. This all changed with the Trailer Bill that was signed on July 28th.
Regional Centers went through all their Early Start children and sent letters to those children who were in the “at risk” program and therefore no longer qualify for Early Start Services. Those letters went out the last week of August to give families 30 day notice that they are no longer eligible for Early Start but are now eligible for this new Prevention Program. Those notices are appealable and they state so. The Prevention Program is not going to provide any direct service – not going to fund any services. It is going to provide assessment and management referral to generic agencies. There are not that many generic agencies out there, so as a community we need to fill that gap.
Regional Center services also changed, with some being significant. They are no longer funding camp, social recreation, non-medical therapy – karate, swim, hippo therapy. Social Skills training is still covered. Social recreation is anything that puts you in the community. Social skills training is very different, is a therapy model used to develop a skill set. Recreation is a way to get kids with disabilities integrated and having fun. They are completely different goals. The IPP will be reviewed to determine if the least costly provider is being utilized.
Regional Center also cut respite, put a cap of 90 hours per quarter (30 per month) The families who were receiving more than 90 hours per quarter were receiving notices in the mail. Remember that there are always exceptions. The Trailer Bill Language did a couple of good things. Now the Regional Center has to send out a cost statement every year, meaning a yearly letter telling you what your child receives and how much the Regional Center spends on them.
The services are suspended, until what is called, the Individual Choice Budget is developed. This budget will do, like what self-directed services does; a family will get a pot of money and the family can spend that money throughout the year as they see fit. There is a committee working on this in Sacramento.
There are changes that may be taking place for In Home Supportive Services - (IHSS), which are currently on hold due to recent legal actions. There is a weighted ranking that will determine who will continue with services. Those who get protective supervision will continue, only those rankings of 1 and 2 are affected, which is those who need minimal supports. The California DDS site will have information as it becomes available.
IHSS power point - Budget Cuts Training
Judge's ruling on IHSS Cuts - 43 pg pdf file
Cal State Long Beach Clinic for OT, Speech and Hearing Services
Special Education PTA (SEPTA) of Redwood City, CA
Los Altos SEPTA
Disability Rights Legal Center
Fremont Council PTA
California State PTA
Overview of Legislative Process
Social Security News for 2010
Los Angeles County Office of Education