Governor McDonnell today proclaimed March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Virginia. In his proclamation, the governor recognized the value and potential of the nearly 145,000 adults and children across the Commonwealth who are estimated to have a developmental disability.
"Individuals with developmental disabilities do not want to be defined by their disability; they want to be known for their abilities," said Governor McDonnell. "There is much we can do to encourage their independence and allow them the choices anyone else would want - such as having a home, being near family, having employment opportunities and being accepted in their own communities. I have long believed in reducing our dependence on large, state-run institutions for people with intellectual disabilities and moving to a community-based system of care that ensures the highest quality of life closer to their own families. I also believe there is value and benefit to public and private employers who hire people with disabilities. As people with developmental disabilities successfully engage in these aspects of society and live more productive, fuller lives in their own communities, we begin to see what they are capable of, instead of taking a limited view of what they cannot do."
Together with public and private organizations providing community services across the Commonwealth, Virginia agencies are working to make a better life for individuals with developmental disabilities. Current major efforts in Virginia include:
The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) is currently implementing a 2012 settlement agreement the Commonwealth negotiated with the U.S. Department of Justice that will provide the needed services for more individuals with developmental disabilities to live successfully in their home communities. The agreement will add 4,170 new Medicaid waiver slots over the next 10 years to enable individuals currently living in training centers to transition to community homes and to provide for continued growth of slots for individuals in the community who are on the waiting list for waiver slots. The agreement also supports the development of quality services in the community by expanding oversight, risk management and case management services.
The departments for Aging and Rehabilitative Services and Blind and Vision Impaired are currently coordinating efforts surrounding Governor McDonnell's Executive Order 55 to enhance the opportunities for Virginians with disabilities in the workforce, including those with developmental disabilities. Relevant state agencies will provide information and support to employers in both public and private sectors in the use of assistive technology to advance individuals with disabilities in the workforce. The order also challenges DBHDS along with other state agencies to continue to use Employment First strategies. New Employment First policies were implemented in 2011 to give people with disabilities the choice to receive assistance in securing meaningful employment before being offered less integrated services. Other agencies included in these efforts include the departments of Medical Assistance Services, Veterans Affairs, Education, Human Resource Management, the Virginia Workforce Council, the Virginia Employment Commission and the Workforce Development Services Division of the Virginia Community College system.
The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities is focused on ensuring that individuals with developmental disabilities are fully included in all facets of community life. The board is engaged in advocacy, capacity building, and systems change activities that lead to a more individual-driven, family-centered system of supports. The board's grant investments have touched thousands. This year, it will award up to $800,000 for projects addressing healthcare, community supports, aging in place, and healthy relationships for individuals with developmental disabilities. The board's 2013 Partners in Policymaking advocacy training program and the 2013 Youth Leadership Forum will add about 50 alumni to the over 600 program graduates who are making a difference in their communities. The board has also begun development of a comprehensive assessment of the Disability Services System in Virginia to be published in 2014.
By the Numbers in Virginia:
144,018 children and adults are estimated to have a developmental disability.
One in 91 children is estimated to have an autism spectrum disorder.
Approximately 18,425 infants, toddlers and young children (birth through age 5) have developmental delays requiring early intervention services.
Virginia's community services boards provided 20,562 individuals developmental services in FY2012.
There are currently 9,885 people served in Virginia communities on the Intellectual Disability (ID) or Developmental Disability (DD) Medicaid waiver, 7,728 on the waiting list to receive these community waiver services so they can live closer to home, and 866 individuals being served among Virginia's five training centers.
The statewide census of Virginia's five training centers has dropped 28 percent since 2010, and 50 percent since 2000.
Services provided by Medicaid waivers allow individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are at risk of entering a training center to be served in an appropriate community setting of their choice.
Approximately 35 percent of Virginians with disabilities are employed, according to the 2010 census. This number indicates an underrepresentation of people with disabilities among the gainfully employed.
Developmental disability refers to a diverse group of severe chronic conditions due to mental or physical impairments, or both, that begin before the age of 22 and usually last throughout a person's lifetime. An intellectual disability is a developmental disability that is characterized by significantly impaired cognitive functioning and significant limitations in daily life skills.
The text of the March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month proclamation can be found here: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/OurCommonwealth/Proclamations/viewproc.cfm?id=268.
Executive Order 55 can be found here: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/PolicyOffice/ExecutiveOrders/viewEO.cfm?eo=55.