Meet with Judge Tom Neuville to discuss public defender system.
MN Prairie Rail Line
A coalition of elected officials and stakeholders is meeting to discuss the rail line and area economic development. At the Winthrop Vets Club, 206 North Main St., Winthrop, MN 55396
David Bly fundraiser and meet the people event, sponsored by Mike Thorsteinson August 7, 2008, 5pm to 8 pm at 20110 Geneva Court, Faribault on Cedar Lake. Al Franken will attend!
EdMN Summer Conference at St. Bens. Teacher/Legislator meeting.
On Thursday August 12, I attended a Legislative Town Hall Meeting at the Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault. The issue: public policy that impact people with disabilities. Several other legislators were in attendance, including Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem, Representatives David Bly, Patti Fritz, Connie Ruth, Randy Demmer, And Jeanne Poppe. The event was sponsored by Arc Southeastern Minnesota, Arc Mower County, Arc Freeborn County, MN Region 10 Quality Assurance and Self Advocacy Minnesota.
Clients, parents, workers, and advocates of people with developmental disabilities shared their issues and concerns. Poignant stories about parents of children with mental health issues facing inadequate hospital facilities unable to cope with mental health crises: lack of coordination with social service providers, the need for a continuum of care, lack of trained personnel, and a shortage of trained personnel at so many levels.
Many of those in attendance received training prior to the town hall meeting which focused on self advocacy. It is so important to give those with disabilities a voice to speak out, to register and vote, and even testify before the legislature. Some of the other issues discussed include:
- Support workers and a living wage. Many workers are leaving the field because of the lack of realistic wages above the poverty level. Health insurance is not always guaranteed. The role of the caregiver must be valued to ensure the best care for the clients they serve.
- Maintaining a consistent and stable source of funding. In Rice County alone, there is a waiting list of over 50 individuals for home and community based services. Funding should fit individual needs. Funding for both services and housing should come from one funding source. We need to address increased transportation costs that affect many of the essential support services.
- The need for a single person directed plan and budget. People in the field (and their circles) should decide their plan and how best to allocate resources. Individuals with disabilities should have decision making control over their budgets. The funding should be community, neighborly, family focused, and not institutionalized. We need to address crisis needs. And we can’t put people in a position of accepting more services than they need to fit into the system.
There has been some progress in recent years with community and statewide mental health initiatives. These programs need to include developmental disability. We need a plan for better regionalization to ensure assistance is given to those in need.
As a state, we should continue to work to enhance the quality of life for persons with developmental disabilities, promoting basic assistance, relationships, inclusion, safety, dignity, and choice. As one of the parents in attendance said to me, “I don’t want a handout… I just want to make sure my child will be taken care of should I die tomorrow.” No parent should have those concerns.