Letters to Editor - June 29, 2006

No money at time for family support waiver

It is with great disappointment that, as a member of the Delaware Advocacy Coalition for the Family Support Waiver, I write to tell you that, despite all of our dedicated efforts and belief in the cause, there will be no funding in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2008 Delaware budget for the Family Support Waiver.

Thanks to all of our families and friends for your letters and calls to our legislators in Dover to gain support for this important funding. At present, Delaware will stand at 46th nationally on a per capita basis in support for families who keep their disabled adults at home.

We know the rest of the story better than most: families will continue to struggle and “expire” as functioning units sooner, the state will have to step in when families inevitably fail, pick what pieces they can and take over our work as parents and guardians by spending considerably more money than would be needed otherwise.

This message has not yet landed squarely with our legislature. Despite a $40 million increase to Gov. Minner’s original proposed budget and plenty of new revenue tax increases imposed on Delaware residents, (close to $100 million in new money, maybe more) we did not make the priority list for our $1.2 million request.

As members of organizations across the state representing families of disabled children and adults, we are advocating for the Family Support Waiver to offer a sound way for families to help keep their disabled adults at home longer and out of long-term, full-time, state-funded residential placements.

This year alone, the waiver would have supported 1,398 adult individuals with developmental disabilities, allowing them to direct their major day or vocational services, create innovative and cost effective services, and provide a small allowance for the purchase of ancillary services, such as adaptive technology, supported employment services and respite care.

The Delaware Advocacy Coalition for the Family Support Waiver members, who include The ARC of Delaware, The Autism Society of Delaware, The Downs Syndrome Association, Lower Delaware Autism Foundation, The Parent Information Center, Easter Seals, United Cerebral Palsy, CERTS and Family Voices, are truly disappointed.

In a time when the Delaware Division of Disabilities Services are serving 70 percent more people than in the year 2000 and have not seen a funding stream increase since 1997, it is hard to understand why the waiver was not supported.

Nonetheless, the coalition will take only a brief respite from our advocacy efforts and plan reconvene in the fall to continue the fight for the services our families indicate that they need. We ask our friends in the community to help give us a head start for the fall by expressing your disappointment to our legislature in writing, during phone calls, and in person.

Please share with your friends, family, neighbors and community leaders why the FSW is important and necessary. Slip it into conversations at the pool or at a backyard barbecue. Send letters and encourage others to do the same.

If you are not sure where to start, please visit www.ldaf.com for information on contacting your legislators or call Melissa Tice Martin at the Lower Delaware Autism Foundation at (302) 644-3410.

Melissa Tice Martin
Delaware Advocacy Coalition for the Family Support Waiver

Ocean View on the verge of history

The University of Delaware is completing an architectural and historical study of Ocean View, in preparation for listing to the National Register of Historic Places. They will be presenting this information this fall at the town hall.

Grants and other contributions have begun to pay for the project. However, additional funds are needed to cover the more than 1,800 hours spent to complete it.

Ocean View residents will soon be receiving a letter asking for them to contribute what they can to the university for this work.

Ocean View has an interesting history and is a rare example of a 19th century oceanside community in Delaware. It deserves recognition.

We would like to thank those who have helped, especially Vicky York for all of her assistance. We hope those who receive this letter will make a contribution.

Jean Athan
Ocean View