I have to admit, we have been very fortunate to not have been affected by the many budget cuts being made because of the declining economy...hopefully we remain fortunate, we are certainly beyond blessed in that aspect, and I am beyond grateful for that fact. I don't think you even realize the cost of services, equipment, and extra care involved with having a little one with extra medical necessities until you're there and you're stressing over the funds to get these things. So much is done to limit the cost, and benefit these children already.
For instance, the cost of children receiving services in the home, as Brayden does through Early Intervention, is considerably less than in an in-patient atmosphere. Not only is this a financial plus, but research has also shown that children greatly benefit from receiving these services in a comfortable and familiar atmosphere. Now there are proposed budget cuts that are making it next to impossible to make this possible. When a child is currently identified as an at-risk child, whether in a physical, developmental, or mental capacity, community-based services are there to help. By offering services in mental health, family support, parent education, mentoring, after-school, school health programs, and many more to overcome any difficult circumstances.If they're not cuts based in Early Intervention programs for children up to the age of 2, school districts are forced to cut back on special education services due to their own budget cuts.
Oddly enough, as I type this blog, I hear on the news behind me that their is a $42.3 million budget cut for disability services. Here is the article from the local online news here in SC:
The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs says a budget cut will reduce the base budget by $42.3 million.By Ashleigh Messervy Wednesday, March 03, 2010 at 1:18 p.m.
COLUMBIA -- Advocates, caretakers, special needs patients and others gathered at the Statehouse to rally against a proposed budget cut that would effect 30,000 disabled people in South Carolina.
The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs said the plan reduces the base budget by $42.3 million. This news comes in addition to the new Health and Human Services Funding Proviso, which results in the loss of a $4.7 million state match.
DDSN said Wednesday that this budget plan will require many families to take the special needs patient out of the home and into an institution. The agency said other services like early intervention, day programs and workshops, respite, family support along with several other specialized programs will be eliminated.
Children with autism, people with spine and brain injuries and the long-term disabled are among the 30,000 people who would state assistance. DDSN said that the House budget plan doesn't stop at the $47 million reduction. The agency said it will also mean the loss of $110 million in federal matching cash and stimulus money.
DDSN said the long-term cost of cutting these vital services will be much more expensive than the expected savings. The disability agency said they hope the general assembly how these cuts will force families to make difficult choices like whether to care for their loved one or keep a job.
Now I have to also admit, at first I was very weary of taking any sort of government assistance. In fact, there are still moments when I feel that Brayden is my sole responsibility and the fact that he has hydranencephaly should not change the fact that I do not care for him with my own resources. But then, reality sets in. Who would I trust to offer him the attention and care I give him daily, and how much would it cost to pay this amazing person so I could return to work to make enough money to pay said person? Also, therapy services are medical services, just as any other trip to a medical doctor, and we have insurance for that as a benefit (thank you US Navy). I do received SSI disability income from the Social Security Administration, however it isn't as if it's so much that I'm able to sit around and live off of it. It offers the boost I need to help buy necessities for him that he needs to live his days and grow into a little man. Then I think back to this kid I worked with at one of my first jobs, who was lazy and liked to do too many drugs, who applied for disability so that he could sit at home and do more drugs on the governments money...anxiety eh? If that kid can be deserving of some cash, then my little man is most definitely deserving.
But I am watching these budget cuts affect so many families around me. Not only families with children who need these services, but adults alike. For instance, I found this from the state of Illinois regarding budget cuts. It is a template to use for caregivers to contact their legislatures and tells you some of the great impact of these cuts to all involved, which mind you is EVERYONE:
The General Assembly recently approved a “50-percent budget” for fiscal year 2010 that cuts a long list of vital services and programs in Illinois. The effects of this proposed budget are devastating and will gravely impact our community and other communities throughout the state.
I may lose my job as a (my job title) because of these budget cuts. How will these budget cuts impact you and your family?
Human Services – $769 million cut – Over 100,000 people affected
Eliminate Lekotek services for over 5,000 children with disabilities and their families
Anixter Center - $5 million cut – eliminate 1,700 individuals receiving services and support and layoffs of over 100 employees
Eliminate home services for 5,000 people with disabilities
Eliminate addiction treatment and prevention for 45,000 people
Close one out of every five Illinois Department of Human Services offices
Education – $1.5 billion cut – Over 14,300 teachers laid off
Higher Education – $554 million cut – Over 400,000 students affected
Eliminate all state scholarships, including MAP grants, making college less affordable for 400,000 students.
Healthcare – $1.2 billion cut – Over 650,000 people lose healthcare
Eliminate healthcare for 300,000 children and 175,000 parents, and Rx assistance for 172,000 seniors
Eliminate all healthcare subsidies for 78,000 retired teachers, university and state employees
Seniors – $368 million cut – Over 271,000 seniors affected
Community Care program cut in half- 26,000 seniors would not receive services to help remain in their homes
Eliminate Elder Abuse and Neglect program- 11,000 cases would not be investigated
Veterans – $27 million cut – Over 150,000 veterans affected and 1,000 kicked out of veterans’ homes
Eliminate Traumatic Brain Injury & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder counseling and assistance program
Public Safety – $294 million cut – Nearly 1,000 State Troopers laid off and 6,000 inmates released early
Close four Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and release over 500 juveniles early
Economic Development – $549 million cut – Every mass transit district affected
Eliminate all state funding for public transit and AMTRAK
Agriculture and Natural Resources – $98 million cut – 60 parks and every museum closed
Local Government – $1 billion cut
Eliminate state funding for local governments, reducing their ability to fund core services like law enforcement, fire service and garbage collection and offices like public defenders, county treasurers and state’s attorneys *facts stated at Illinoisprogress.com
And that's not to mention the impact I see personally through my early intervention services. The cutbacks are made, and the workload is quadrupled. Who is this helping? Now the children aren't getting the attention they need, simply because the care providers can barely remember what day it is let alone which child they need to call back...or how to squeeze more hours in to the day to get these kids those services.
Today, during Brayden's annual IFSP meeting, I realized the massive amounts of paper that were being passed around. "Here is a bunch of papers for you, and for you, and for you, and even for you..." "This is the rights and responsibilities for today, and for yesterday, and last week..." "Sign here, date this, we already filled one out similar to this, but here's another one." In one year, Brayden's paperwork is a LARGE novel in a 3-ring binder which weighs more than him in paper. This doesn't include the weekly visit papers I receive from each therapist, the quarterly IFSP reviews, the copies of the entire treatment plan and goals that are made for each provider to remain on the same page. In this day and age, is it necessary to handwrite every thing or isn't there a way to make this easier...technology can do anything, so why aren't the government agencies using this to make this process less time consuming and less costly to our tree supply?
If patient files were kept online, and updated there...parents could electronically sign the documents needed, and everything could be electronically mailed to each care provider. Oh the paper that would be saved, not to mention the ink, or more importantly the TIME!
So instead of cutting funding for services, how about going paperless!? Our care providers would have more time to spend with their ever-growing list of patients, information could more easily be shared, and everything could be accessed by the family as needed as well... who do I need to talk to about this? It's all about the paper, it is indeed what is eating the budget!