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Walk and Roll Rally in Richmond to Support Inclusion

By Jennifer Reese, LEND Medicaid Programs Coordinator

This morning my seven-year-old daughter Cailyn and I packed up for a quick road trip to Richmond. She played hooky from school but it was all for a good cause.
Jen smiling next to her daughter Cailyn at the marchWe attended a Rally and Walk Hosted by the ARC of Virginia. The purpose was to call on Governor McAuliffe and the General Assembly to do what they said they'd do.
Granted it was another Governor at the time, but on January 26, 2012, Virginia agreed to a settlement with the Department of Justice to provide quality integrated community services and to eliminate the ID/DD Waiver waiting lists. Over three years later, they are nowhere near meeting their responsibility. This year Loudoun County had 261 people on the Urgent ID Waitlist and were allotted 16 waiver slots for the current Fiscal Year with funding available from the General Assembly.

Just the Facts
  • Virginia is currently ranked 45th in the country for our fiscal effort towards ID/DD services.
  • According to the settlement, Virginia must respond to the 10,000 people with intellectual & developmental disabilities (ID/DD) and their families who are on waiting lists for community-based services. Virginia must also reduce the waiting list by half in the next budget.
  • The redesigned ID/DD waiver service system must provide integrated services that support families, promote inclusion, and incentivize independence. The Commonwealth needs to approve and adequately fund the ID/DD Waiver Redesign to ensure Virginia meets the requirements of the DOJ settlement agreement. 
We met up with my good friend Donna and her daughter Alaina who has Down syndrome. I think our girls were two of the youngest self-advocates in attendance but Donna and I both felt this was an important day. We needed to support these efforts in person and with our voices.
We “Walked and Rolled” around the Capitol and by the Governor's Mansion chanting: “What do we want? A life like yours,” and “End the wait” which referred to the growing waitlist for Waivers in Virginia.
My daughter has multiple complex medical issues and has been on the ID waitlist since 2009— and there doesn't appear to be an end in sight. The ID Waiver and the supports it provides are vital for us to be able to keep my daughter at home, living in her community instead of having to live in a nursing home or institution.
We are lucky, for now we have adequate medical insurance, but we need help as she grows bigger and her needs increase. We will need to make modifications in our home for her safety including the bathroom and adding lifts to her bedroom. We will also need an accessible van with a lift for my daughter's wheelchair.
Overall it was an empowering morning, one I was honored to attend and share the experience with my daughter. For now, I am her voice but her presence at events like these speaks tremendously. It ensures kids like her are not forgotten especially since they just want “a life like yours.”
Write the Governor
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