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Visiting California Legislature. Advocating for Our Community.

News for 03.08.17
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By Bryan Neider, CEO, Gatepath

I had an opportunity to visit the California State Legislature last week. I, along with other developmental disabilities service providers, shared the need for increased stability and support for the organizations that serve over 315,000 Californians. I am pleased to report that my colleagues at the California Disability Services Association and I received a warm welcome from all of the legislators we met with. Our own local representatives, including State Senator Jerry Hill and Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, have long been strong and vocal supporters of our mission.

We are all living in a time of significant change and uncertainty. Our visit to the state capitol provided us the occasion to bring awareness to the needs of our community. We had four objectives for our visit that I’d like to briefly highlight, because I believe Gatepath advocates, participants, supporters—and in fact, all Californians—deserve to be informed and see how decisions made by our legislators can have significant impact on our community.


Goal #1: Maintaining California’s Promise to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families

We reminded members of the Legislature of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act and California’s commitment to provide individuals with developmental disabilities with the support and services they need to live full and productive lives. While more potential changes are coming—including when/if the federal government moves from a dollar-for-dollar matching fund Medicaid, to a block grant that could decrease funding—community service providers have yet to recover from lost funding during the Great Recession. We requested that the Legislature restore that support in the coming budget.

Goal #2: Ease Job Placement for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

We voiced support for a proposed state bill (AB 279 - Holden) that would enable service providers who provide career support and on-the-job training, to receive funding from the state so they can comply with local “living wage” rates. This new bill would solve the current problem by enabling the state to adjust rates more easily without the excessive paperwork burden imposed on both the state and service providers. This proposed bill, along with (AB 1607 - Frazier), provides critical training for adults with developmental disabilities so they can succeed in meaningful employment.

Goal #3: Supporting Plan for Federal Mandate Compliance

In 2019, a federal mandate (HCBS Compliance) will require greater community involvement opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities, replacing non-inclusive settings. At the moment, many of California’s service providers are not prepared for this mandated change. As a leader in the community, Gatepath has already completed important steps to be in compliance with HCBS mandates. During this week’s legislative visit, I wanted to show support for other providers as we reminded legislators to act and support other organizations so they too can proactively comply with this federal mandate.

leg-blog-2017-3 Goal #4: Advocating Transition Away from Last Two State Institutions

The Department of Developmental Services is preparing to close three institutions (Sonoma Developmental Center, Fairview Developmental Center, and the non-forensic section of Porterville Developmental Center), transitioning the individuals to services in the community.  We requested that the $450 million earmarked for these institutions be retained in the overall developmental disabilities service budget. The cost of care for one individual at these public institutions is more than $700,000 per year; while we and other private/nonprofit organizations can provide the same services and quality of support for approximately $22,000 per person! This change would both maintain the services for those in need and help close the funding gaps in the overall developmental disabilities budget, as mentioned above in Goal #1.

If you’d like to get involved, call your state senators and assembly members. Remind them of our community’s needs and ask for support for these bills. Also, we encourage you to stay informed by signing up for our e-news updates and advocacy alerts at Gatepath.org.






CEO, Gatepath