Saturday, April 4, 2009

Public Service Announcement

ATTENTION: All families of children and youth with special needs in Rhode Island and professionals caring for them!




SUBJECT: Medicaid services seriously threatened (CEDARR, HBTS, PASS, Kids Connect, etc.)!



As you are all aware, our state has been facing budget deficits of magnitudes that most of us have not seen in our lifetimes, which mirrors the state of the economy across the country. While at the national level, we are finally seeing some movement towards relief, our state budget battles rage on – with our families most at risk of losing services and support for our children and youth with special needs.



For several years, there have been both threats and reductions to the vital services and supports that our families rely on to care for our family members in our own homes and communities. These services have been provided by way of our family member’s eligibility for Medicaid, a federal/state funded program designed for those who are either low income and/or have significant special needs. Budget cuts to the providers that work with our families have been accumulating over time and those providers have done their very best to protect our families from feeling the very real impact of cuts to or loss of those services and supports. As many of you are aware, and may have heard from the agencies that provide your services, the provider agencies are no longer able to absorb the significant cuts in their agency budgets and several of them are seriously considering withdrawing their participation in the programs our families need to care for our family member with special needs.



Without providers, there are no programs. Without these programs, we lose the services and support our families so desperately need.




This IS a crisis!




While the Department of Human Services, under the direction of the Governor’s office, has had to implement these cuts, the real decision makers are in the State House, both the Governor and the legislature, both House and Senate. If ever there was a time when we should each have our voices heard NOW is the time. The legislature is making State budget decisions on a daily basis that will directly impact our children and families and, in some cases, our ability to care for our family members at home. We had seen incredible support for our families in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. Many of us have worked over many years to build systems, programs and other support for families raising children and youth with special needs, only to see those same initiatives gradually being cut back to the point that we could lose them altogether. These services and supports are critical to our families and we all need to be sure that those in power understand that! While all of this is very disturbing, distressful and overwhelming at times, there are things we can all do to be sure our voices are heard by those responsible for making these decisions.




WE URGE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU TO CONTACT THE GOVERNOR, BY E-MAIL (rigov@gov.state.ri.us) AND/OR PHONE (222-2080) AS SOON AS YOU CAN, AND SHARE WITH HIM HOW THE LOSS OR REDUCTION OF ANY MEDICAID FUNDED SERVICES YOUR FAMILY DEPENDS ON, WILL IMPACT YOU.




WE ALSO URGE YOU TO DO THE SAME WITH EACH MEMBER OF THE HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE (http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/ComMembers/ComMemR.asp?ComChoiceR=HFIN)




AND SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE (http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/ComMembers/ComMemS.asp?ComChoiceS=SFIN)




AND YOUR OWN SENATOR AND REPRESENTIVE (http://www.sec.state.ri.us/vic) FROM YOUR OWN COMMUNITIES. THIS LINK PROVIDES A VERY USER FRIENDLY SEARCH TOOL TO FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR BASED ON YOUR HOME ADDRESS.





Our government officials are put in office to represent ALL OF US – they can only do that well if they truly understand our needs. It is up to us to convey those messages to them so that they can make informed decisions about how their decisions impact our families.




We, at RIPIN, stand ready to assist you in any way we can. Share your stories with us as well so that we can reinforce your messages with those decision makers.




Contact our Resource Center (727-4144 or 800-464-3399) if more information is needed or if we can help you in any way to get your message out. Send us a copy (familyvoices@ripin.org) of your communications with legislators and the Governor. We will compile your letters and be sure that your voices are heard by those who can make a difference.




THE VOICES OF FAMILIES MUST BE HEARD DURING THESE DIFFICULT TIMES!




Thank you for all you do for your own family and for the rest of the families in our state who feel they do not have a voice!



Dawn Wardyga

Director, Health & Public PolicyFamily Voices/RI Parent Information Network

175 Main StreetPawtucket RI 02860

401-727-4144x158

401-727-4040 FAX

familyvoices@ripin.orgwww.ripin.org



"In a decent society, there are certain obligations that are not subject to tradeoffs or negotiation - health care for our children is one of those obligations." - President Barack


ObamaOptimism is a crucial choice we make in establishing expectations for ourselves and others as we begin to move forward through adversity. -- Christopher Novak

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