6:30 PM to 9:00 PM EST
Every winter, staff from all of Virginia’s Centers for Independent Living travel to Richmond and meet with state legislators for “IL Day.” They advocate for legislation and budget amendments that benefit people with disabilities across Virginia. This year, I went to IL Day along with Amir Abdolrahimi, Selvin Garcia, Lydia Farrell, and Doris Ray.
Our focus this year was on three major issues: overtime pay for consumer directed personal care services, adding more slots for the Developmental Disabilities (DD) waivers, and restoring funding for Centers for Independent Living.
We advocated for 16 hours of overtime pay for attendants. People who get their home care through Medicaid waivers can receive up to 56 hours of attendant care, but if attendants don’t get overtime, they’re limited to working 40 hours. This means people who get 56 hours would need to find a second attendant, which can be difficult given the limited pool of people to hire. Also, some people have one particular attendant they connect with, and having to find a new one would mean not having that established relationship of trust.
With regards to the DD waivers, individuals and their families have been waiting for the services they need for years, stuck on lengthy wait lists. There are over 11,000 people on the waiver waitlists who need these services to thrive.
From the left - ECNV Travel Trainer Selvin Garcia, ECNV Peer Mentor Alexa Mavroidis, Delegate David Bulova, ECNV Advocacy Director Doris Ray
We also advocated that the General Assembly restore $200,000 in funding that was reduced in 2016. This funding would go toward transition services, which consist of services to help people move out of nursing homes and back into the community, services to help ensure that people who are in hospitals after a disabling injury or illness can return to the community with appropriate care rather than be sent to a nursing home, and services for youth with disabilities who have aged out of the school system and no longer get the services the school provides. These transition services are a priority for Centers across Virginia, including ECNV.
IL Day every year allows ECNV and other Virginia Centers to advocate for the things people with disabilities across Virginia need to be supported and thrive. As a peer mentor at ECNV, I always feel honored and privileged to have a chance to press for policies that improve the lives of Virginians with disabilities.