Use of Section 14(c) certificates and observed trends

Responding to the concerns of parent advocates

I appreciate all parent advocates, on both sides of this issue. If you took the time to reply to this dialogue, there is no doubt that you do want what's best for your family member. I do want to address a pattern of concern I saw from several of the family advocates, expressing their concerns and frustration with ineffectiveness of 14c programs. The reality is the elimination of 14c programs is not the answer to poor community employment outcomes. Providers are woefully underfunded across most of the country. VR systems are often ineffective, even with typically much better funding to do the job than your typical community rehabilitation provider. One post talked about "redirection" of funding from 14c programs to go towards better funding for community job development. The answer is not one or the other, the answer is that better funding is needed across the board. I don't know a 14c provider that says, "you know what, they are spending too much money on community employment". No, in fact, most of those 14c providers that are underfunded are also underfunded for their supported employment programs. This is not specific to the disability community- the federal budget and most state budgets were trashed and became imbalanced following the economic downturn. Heck, some states got a head start of the downturn by balancing their budgets off of cuts and freezes in services across the board. "Medicaid" needs do not resonate in the minds of the citizenry (voters) that is not impacted by it, by way of being a recipient, a family member of a recipient, or someone employed in the system. No one uninvolved with Medicaid ever said, "hey let's go rally to pay higher taxes!" So, we need our elected officials to do the heavy lift, and we need to support them, so that we can create a health and human services system that works. Every minimum wage increase puts our service providers further in jeopardy, further compressing salaries to where we are competing below the entry level food industry (no disrespect to food service workers, but who should be compensated better direct support workers of societies most vulnerable people or fast food? Again no disrespect). I'd be surprised that anyone hasn't heard this yet but we are in a direct service professional staffing crisis across the country, due to disproportionately low wages as compared to expectations of the position, and an thriving economy that is giving more employment mobility that in a full generation (which yes, should mean more employment opportunities for people with disabilities as well). What we need is to relevel the entirety of the system to where it should appropriately sit staff compensation-wise, commensurate to what is demanded from the providers and caregivers, and then we need legislation that requires that percentage separation over minimum wage must be maintained. Anything less, and we are back to taking off the plates of others, when we are really fighting for crumbs.

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Idea No. 221