Wilk: Developmentally disabled community needs our support

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What: Transition 2 Independence conference and job fair

Where: Santa Clarita Activities Center, 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway

Santa Clarita, CA 91351

When: Saturday May 13, 9 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: Hosted by Senator Scott Wilk, this information session will feature guest speakers on self-advocacy, workplace readiness, and other skills for the developmentally disabled and their families. A transition fair will also take place featuring employment and independent living options. Register at www.tinyurl.com/t2iscv.

As seen on KHTS Hometown Station website

Employment; since the great recession of 2008 we’ve used it as a marker of everything from presidential success to economic health but what we’ve also heard the number associated with is the wellbeing of our developmentally disabled community, and the statistics haven’t been positive.

Our developmentally and intellectually disabled citizens see just 15 percent of their ranks finding gainful employment, even less find it full-time; a troubling figure that has remained a major barrier to independence for as long as it has been tracked. And its impacts extend far beyond the financial.

Employment is a proven marker of success for our young developmentally disabled adults and those who fail to find and retain it often struggle to find independence and, sadly, happiness as well.

To help, this weekend I’ll be hosting a ‘Transition 2 Independence’ conference on this very issue. For a full day, guest speakers will talk on ways to get the developmentally disabled community involved in the workforce and the broader community as well.

Through efforts like these I hope to do my part for this community, and I invite every Californian to do whatever they can – big or small – to help out as well because for our most vulnerable citizens everything from a bigger budget allocation to a wave on the street can make a positive impact.

Our government has made a commitment to these citizens, to fund services and programs that help them gain the skills needed to find that independence and, through it, find fulfilling, full-time work and integrate fully in to the broader community, another key to prolonged prosperity.

But, like so many other promises made by the state, those of the 1977 Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act have hardly been upheld by our current Legislature who has slashed funding across the board and refused to raise outdated funding models according to increased budget revenues and inflation.

Last year, along with my colleague Assemblyman Tom Lackey, I authored Assembly Bill 1565 to, after over $1 billion in cuts, finally raise funding to the Department of Developmental Services by a modest 10 percent.

Unfortunately the bill was unsuccessful as the Democrat-controlled Legislature chose to kill the bill, favoring social engineering and pet projects in their budget decisions. But I remain undeterred and this year I’ve introduced more legislation to help this vulnerable and underserved community within our state.

My bill, Senate Bill 283, would extend the services of our state’s network of regional centers to a group of developmentally disabled residents currently excluded by technicalities in the current law. The bill, an attempt to prepare even more of our intellectually challenged Californians for the workplace and adulthood so they too can go on to lead successful, financially stable and involved lives in our community rather than be left shut-in struggling to get by from day to day without services or help of any kind from their government.

It’s time to bring all our developmentally disabled citizens in to the fold and this bill is a huge step in that direction and is a continuance of my commitment to help this community.

I have a family member with a developmental disability and I’ve seen first-hand how, without the diligence of their parents, caretakers and caring representatives in the Legislature, these individuals who battle difficult disabilities would do alone, with no voice to represent them, no one there to help and no services available to develop coping skills and occupational abilities.

That’s why engagement between our developmentally disabled community and our SCV-wide community is so important and it’s why I invite all Santa Clarita residents to get involved and do what they can to help this group of people that