Developmental Disability Awareness Month brings to mind worker … – The Edwardsville Intelligencer

In working over 25 years with local developmental disability providers, I have observed the excellent work accomplished to celebrate and improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities.

March was Developmental Disability Awareness Month, which seeks to bring awareness in celebrating individuals with developmental disabilities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developmental disabilities are defined as impairments in physical, learning, language or behavior and include:

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  •  Learning or intellectual disabilities
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision impairment
  • Other developmental delays

Local providers William M. Bedell Achievement and Resource Center, Illinois Center for Autism, Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Southern Illinois, New Opportunities, Supporting Community Independence, Madison County Regional Office of Education, Transitional Planning Committee and numerous other organizations provide an array of day treatment, independent living arrangements, developmental training programs, psychological evaluations, and individual and family support services addressing these areas.

Another organization newer to Madison County, Prairieland Service Coordination Service, Inc., offers referral and linkages and coordination of services. You can reach them at 618-288-1897.

The direct service professionals who work in the local developmental disabilities service agencies embrace, develop relationships and consider the individuals they serve as family.

However, the developmental disability system has faced challenges that have impacted services to people living in community residences and attending day services for years and increased since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most significant issue presented is the pervasive staffing shortages they have faced. This shortage directly affects people who depend on staff for daily support and limits access to services for people living with families and seeking agency support.

There is a dire emergency due to workforce shortages and maintaining services. Without increased funding and staff, the trend will be to place individuals in large group settings versus placement in home-like environments. People with Disabilities Deserve More.

Direct support professionals in the developmental disability field leave at twice the rate of new hires due to historically low wages. “They Deserve More” is a statewide advocacy effort moving forward assertively with state legislators to strongly, advocate for a $4 per hour wage increase for the dedicated direct support professionals who care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Contact your state representatives and share your SUPPORT for SB2026 AND HB3569 to increase the direct service professional’s wage rate and increase the number of individuals with disabilities to be approved services through the State of Illinois Priority Unmet Needs (PUNS) List. 

Deborah Humphrey, MBA, BSN, RN is the Executive Director of the Madison County Mental Health Board. She has over 30 years of experience in behavioral health and 20 years working with county government in her previous Mental Health Board position.

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via rk2’s favorite articles on Inoreader

April 1, 2023 at 10:43AM

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