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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Cuts to People Experiencing Developmental Disabilities – Supported Time in the Community

By Rita Menzies, Roxanne Abajian, Julie Dowling, Alonso Escalante, Ralph Mackie, Adam Thompson, & Bett Union-Jakubet


May 11, 2017
Thursday PM


Dear Editor,

We write to you today on behalf of not only individuals with intellectual disabilities we serve, but also their families, our staff, and community. One of the budget cuts that is critical for this population is the Day Habilitation Services. With the current budgets proposed for Senior & Disabilities Services (SDS), Day Habilitation Services will be capped at 8-12 hours per week per individual. The number of hours of Day Habilitation currently is individualized according to the plan of care and the needs of the individual, averaging 40 hours/week/individual.

To outline the importance of Day Habilitation Services, the following is sited from the SDS web page as well as the Conditions of Participation. This waiver allows people who would otherwise need an institutional level of care to live in their home or community and receive the care they need. The specific criteria to qualify for the waiver are that the individual meets an “institutional level of care”. “Day habilitation services may be provided to assist recipients to acquire, retain, and improve the self-help, socialization, and adaptive skills necessary to live successfully in home and community-based settings.” The services must be therapeutic, individually determined to foster independence and promote dignity, and varied to meet the recipient’s interest. The activities must take into consideration the recipient’s health, abilities and disabilities as well as their strengths, weaknesses, sensory challenges, ethnicity, and skills. The provider must assist with walking, eating, toileting, and personal hygiene as needed.

Day Habilitation Services are life lines to the community for the individuals served. These individuals are significantly disabled and need assistance with simple activities – activities that you and I take for granted, such as getting dressed, eating, or toileting independently. Most cannot be left by themselves. As stated, they meet the institutional level of care. Realistically, what is going to happen to the individuals served if these hours go away? Will their families be responsible for those hours or will those individuals be forced into facilities (at Medicaid’s expense?). If all these individuals are placed in facilities, imagine not only the financial impact but also the impact of separating the individuals from their families and communities.

Consequently, drastically reducing the number of Day Habilitation hours will result in significant staff layoffs. Please do not compromise this legislature’s humanity, morals, and ethics for budget cuts.

Speaking on behalf of our families, staff, and community, we want our family and community members to remain in our community and live meaningful lives. We do realize that there is a financial crisis, but we implore NOT to make cuts affecting those most vulnerable. We respectfully request to NOT include cut and caps to Day Habilitation Services.


Rita Menzies, Community Connections Board President
& Community Connections Board of Directors: Rita Menzies, President Roxanne Abajian, Julie Dowling, Alonso Escalante, Ralph Mackie, Adam Thompson, & Bett Union-Jakubet
Ketchikan, Alaska


Received May 10, 2017 - Published May 11, 2017



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