SCLARC’s 2016 Legislative Agenda
Below are the key issues that South Central Los Angeles Regional Center’s Board of Directors and Leadership Team deem as priorities in need of legislative support in order to sustain the Regional Center System and improve service delivery:
1) Support the Development of a Long-Term Plan to Address Programmatic and Operational Challenges to Sustain the Regional Center System.
Regional Centers and vendored provider agencies need to be able to more adequately support the health and safety of our consumers into the mainstream life of the community. We are requesting a 5% annual increase in provider rates and regional center operations budgets as a down payment to ensure system stability while DDS arrives at a cost-based rates/budgeting system.
Regional center Operations still maintains an unallocated reduction that was instituted in the early 1990s as well as unallocated reductions to OPS of $10.6 million from FY 2001-02 and $6.0 million from FY 2004-05. These unallocated reductions continue to be deducted from regional center operations budgets year after year, further frustrating the efforts of regional centers to capture federal funds.
The bulk of the regional center Operations budget is calculated using the Core Staffing formula. The salaries in the Core Staffing formula, with few exceptions, have not been updated since 1991. This has resulted in the regional center Operations budget being underfunded by approximately $195 million.
Continued erosion of caseload ratios will lead to reduced monitoring of individual services, which could undermine the health and safety of individuals, jeopardize the continued receipt of over $1 billion in HCBS waiver funds, and prevent regional centers from providing the current level of advocacy for school-age individuals.
2) Provide Market-Based Rent Allocation
Simply put, SCLARC cannot afford to absorb the impact a rent freeze has created in our operations budget. The average rent escalators are 3%, but in some cases they can be as high as 5%. The greatest impact of this occurs when a regional center moves to a new and larger location. Usually, the cost of rent is higher in the new office space and that is in addition to the one-time moving costs incurred. Moreover, it is essential that SCLARC receive the one-time costs associated with our move and the expansion of our offices to a new location. Without this funding, our ability serve our consumers will be adversely effected.
3) Revamping of the Service Rate Model to Ensure Long-Term System Viability and Sustainability
As a result of a series of budget crises, California abandoned the practice of setting rates based on reasonable assumptions about the actual cost of providing services. It is imperative that California begin the work of creating a cost based rate model for delivering services. This is consistent with the recommendation #6 of the Task Force on the Future of Developmental Centers, “Among the many issues to be considered are: 1) the sufficiency of community rates and the impact new State and federal laws and regulations may have; 2) whether current regulations can be streamlined, particularly affecting the licensing of facilities; and, 3) whether certain benefits received by DC residents as part of a DC closure process should be broadened to others in the community.”
4) Invest in Work for Adults with Developmental Disabilities
California needs to invest in the future of persons with Developmental disabilities by providing an effective path to employment. Inadequate funding of supported work and job development services has led to a decline in employment for Californians with Developmental disabilities. Employment is by far the best option to insure that Californians with Developmental disabilities are integrated into the mainstream life of the community. It provides the dignity and respect that comes with making a contribution the larger society. We request that the legislature increase supported employment services by 10%, as described in AB 1626 (Maienschein), to begin investing in employment outcomes for people with developmental disabilities. The goal of AB 1626 is to increase the hourly rate paid to providers of individualized and group-supported employment services to $34.24, and increase the fees paid to interim program providers to $400 and$800, respectively.
5) Reinstate Social Recreation, Non Researched Based Support Therapies, and Family Program Services
The services lost during FY 2009-10 are still impacting our families. The cuts included all social-recreational programs (i.e. swimming, karate, and gymnastics), all alternative therapies ( i.e. music or horseback riding), and after-school programming. These services were “suspended” until further notice. Regional Centers were directed to support parents and families in finding alternative similar services in their local community through social service agencies or through private non-profits. This has proven to be almost impossible for South Central Los Angeles Regional Center, especially in the underserved communities of Downey, Bell, Bell Gardens and Paramount. Many non-profits and parent groups have had to pick up the slack of underfunded or completely eliminated City Parks and Recreation programs. South Central Los Angeles Regional Center supports our community, but it is clear that supports to children with developmental disabilities in these areas are sorely lacking.
6) Identify Community-Based Resources (i.e. Housing, Physicians and Clinicians) to Address Unmet needs of Consumers and Families.
There has been a 9-year legislative freeze on start-up funds for program development, with the exception of Community Placement Plans. The legislature has the ability to set aside this moratorium, especially where new autism programs are concerned. By setting aside start-up funds for autism programs, regional centers can develop programs that will help our families, service providers and consultants become more effective in the treatment of this new spate of autism while regional centers would be able to provide resources and services to our consumers and families which are sorely needed.
We at South Central Los Angeles Regional Center believe our adult consumers who have been diagnosed with autism are in great need for more social skills programs which are severely lacking in our service area. Current programs are not able to deal with the more challenging behaviors exhibited by some autistic consumers. Likewise, there are not enough programs for our 0 to 3-year-olds who have been diagnosed with autism. SCLARC needs the South Central Los Angeles Regional Center’s Autism Testimony 5 legislature to provide money so that we can provide more sensory integration and occupational therapy components for infants.