With 2011 barely a month old, advocates in Indiana reeled from incoming reports that Indiana’s budget crunch has become so severe that some state workers suggested to families that they leave their family members with disabilities at homeless shelters.
While the Indiana Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services (BDDS) officially said this is not the agency’s policy, parents were told this was one option when families can no longer care for children at home and have not received Medicaid waivers that pay for services that support individuals living independently.
While news reports said that “there have been no confirmed cases of families dumping severely disabled people at homeless shelters because Indiana wouldn’t provide the care needed,” advocates received conflicting reports. Kim Dodson, Associate Executive Director of The Arc of Indiana asserted that reports had been received of state workers in several BDDS’s eight regional offices steering families to take adults with disabilities to homeless shelters.
Funding at Risk Across the Country
From coast to coast, funding for basic services is at risk and thousands will continue to be hit hard. Advocates know more budget cuts undermine the ability of an individual to make choices about where they live, work and enjoy the freedom to live independently. As one disability advocate said, “the bottom line is that the more budget cuts we endure, the more our civil rights are reduced.”
Waiting lists for waivers in Indiana is 10 years and The Arc of Indiana has been vigilant in addressing the needs of thousands currently on the list. In late 2010, The Arc of Indiana kicked off its next phase of the Pathways Campaign – a collaborative effort to redefine Indiana’s system of programs and services for people with developmental disabilities.
“With waiting lists now reaching over 20,000 people,” said John Dickerson, Executive Director of The Arc of Indiana, “the wait for too many families remains too long.” In working for systems change through the Pathways Campaign, “we remain committed to advocating for and working with the state to move as many people as possible off waiting lists each month, and to providing Medicaid waivers to those facing emergency, crisis or an end to school aged residential programs.”
Recently, Dickerson was featured in PBS’ Need to Know addressing What Happens When Care Runs Out? With thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities sitting on waiting lists, this has reached a crisis point in communities across the country.