On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, Lifeworks hosted Day at the Capitol with the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, a non-profit coalition of organizations focused on improving the lives of those that we serve.
Self-advocates, parents, family members, and allies gathered in St. Paul to bring attention to legislative priorities that impact individuals with disabilities and caregivers. The event included commentary from Lifeworks staff and state legislators as well as informational tables with activities to help share perspectives. Attendees also had the opportunity to schedule meetings with their local government officials.
Jean Bender, Past President of the Autism Society of Minnesota, shared how days at the Capitol provide a learning opportunity for individuals who may be new to voicing their thoughts: “It can be intimidating to meet your legislator or to even find out who they are so we come as a group to give people options and information to help them share their stories. We provide the tools to help people get in contact with their representation.”
David Spragg, an active self-advocate explained why he made it a point to attend, “This is important because it shows that I care about issues that matter. I’m hoping to show people how to advocate for what they need.”
Two bills are closely being followed by the group and the industry:
Minnesota’s PCA program has been around since 1970 and provides a wide range of support for the 43,000 people who access it. The reimbursement rate for services has seen an average increase of less than 12 cents per year for the past decade, making it challenging for providers to retain quality staff. The PCA bill looks at payment methodology in order to come up with a way to best represent the work performed.
In order to address the workforce storage and budget constraints, the CDCS bill would allow staff to care for more than one person using the program and would grant participants the option to pay for the behavior support systems outside of the CDCS budget. The bill also proposes funding a statewide marketing campaign to raise awareness about the program.
Senator John Marty (District 66) spoke with the group, highlighting the importance of working as a community to help improve people’s lives: “We are all in this together. And I think that is a key thing. We need to help everybody thrive…I think being a caregiver for someone else ought to be a good career for people and not a low-wage job. Let’s keep working together to truly make this a ‘One Minnesota’ where we all thrive because we all take care of each other.”
Cuts to government funding make it challenging to continue meeting the growing needs. Through advocacy efforts, the community can help determine priorities that can make a positive impact in the lives of the people we serve.
If you are interested in advocating, connect with your legislator (click here to find your representative) and join us every Tuesday during the legislative session to learn more and voice your support!