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Governor Hogan's Budget tramples on Disability Community


Leonardtown, MD – The following text is a press release sent out by St. Mary's Board of County Commissioners.

Commissioners Proclaim Developmental Disability Awareness Month

With “See Me for Me!” as a theme the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County proclaimed March 2018 Developmental Disability Awareness Month. The theme emphasizes looking beyond someone’s disability and seeing them as a person and not just a person with a disability.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month highlights the many ways in which people with and without developmental disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities and the openness to learn and acknowledge each individual’s contribution and focus on the abilities of all people.

“We offer full support to efforts which assists people with developmental disabilities to make choices that enable them to live successful lives and realize their potential,” said Commissioner Todd Morgan (4th District).

The commissioners urge all citizens to treat their neighbors the way they wish to be treated, especially those who live with disabilities - end

A very heartfelt and and positive message. Unfortunately the governor's budget has trampled over promises made last year and places at risk the most vulnerable among us.

What is the fuss all about? Recently, Governor Hogan released his proposed Fiscal Year '19 budget and unfortunately, the budget only includes a 1 percent wage increase for direct service professionals (DSPs); 2.5 percent less than mandated by the Minimum Wage Act of 2014. This Act mandated the 3.5 percent rate increase for DSPs to combat the currently rising minimum wage and ensure that the hardworking DSPs do not become part of the minimum wage workforce.

Who are direct service professionals? They are skilled caregivers for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and they are the backbone of community-based service providers, like Bay Community Support Services.  DSPs have many responsibilities, like managing medications, supporting complex behavior plans, vocational training, and community integration. These professionals play a vital role in enriching the lives of those we serve. For that reason, it is imperative to contact legislators and illustrate the importance of bridging this gap!

DD Day & Bay-CSS: Thursday, Feb.22 was Developmental Disabilities Day in Annapolis, an opportunity for advocates of the developmentally disabled to meet with legislators and ask them to “keep the DD promise” and fully fund the 3.5 percent rate increase for DSPs. DD Day 2018 boasted a record breaking turn out of over 800 attendees, filling the halls of Annapolis!  Bay Community Support Services, a local non-profit that provides services to adults with disabilities, was there in full force alongside many other local agencies.In attendance was board member Jerry Pantaleo, former board member Diann Puzon, Delegate Edith Patterson; board member Ian Fairclough, Executive Director Mitzi Bernard and direct support professional Miesha Thomas.  They met with 12 of our local legislators to discuss the need to increase the DDA funding back up to the promised 3.5 percent.

Contact Martin Fairclough at m.fairclough@thebaynet.com

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