The economic crisis is adding to the problem of the lack of resources for states to provide services for children an adults with special needs. Some states already have decades-long waiting lists for services, and states are experiencing losses in revenue from sales taxes because consumers are cutting back on spending. Furthermore, because of rising unemployment, many people will also pay less in income tax.
Stories of the impact are beginning to emerge. In South Carolina, Independentmail.com reported yesterday that: "The $700 million worth of budget cuts coming out of Columbia are hitting Anderson on East Beltline Boulevard by threatening to close a day care and therapy center especially for the area’s children with disabilities."
In Maryland, the state cut $297 Million dollars from the budget, according to a report from WTOP News. The cut included reducing rates paid to service providers, which wll ultimately impact the state's ability to provide services to adults and children with special needs. Advocates in Maryland are extremely concerned about the impact.
California's major budget crisis stymied First Lady Maria Shriver's plan to launch a campaign to find employment for people with developmental disabilities, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times dated July 2008.
Ohio is facing its' own crisis, according to the Bacyrus Telegraph Forum, where budgeting for services is not keeping pace with demand.
Clearly, parents of children and adults with disabilities are going to face more difficulties in obtaining services. While we would like to say there is an alternative to these services, there really is not. Parents need to take a very active role right now to help make our case to our elected officials to prevent budget cuts.