I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
As I wrote last week about 5 Questions for Federal Officials (http://www.cudahynow.com/blogs/communityblogs/172082021.html), here are questions for your State Candidates. As a reminder, the questions were put together by the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (http://www.wi-bpdd.org/) and the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition (http://www.disabilityvote.org/).
How will you protect the significant investments Wisconsin has made (e.g. Family Care, IRIS) that reduce costly institutional care and provide community-based supports? Do you support an investment to reduce the waiting list for children?
Key Wisconsin Fact: During 2010, more than 44,500 Wisconsin adults with disabilities and elders received long-term care services from one of Wisconsin's long-term programs. Residents in 15 counties do not have a guarantee to long-term supports. Community supports are estimated at $100/day while institutions can cost more than $800/day. More than 2,000 children with significant disabilities are waiting for support in Wisconsin.
What will you do to ensure public education supports and funding is available to improve outcomes for students with disabilities so they are college and workforce ready?
Key Wisconsin Fact: Approximately 119,262 or 13.7% of all Wisconsin students receive special education services. Less than half of Wisconsin's students with disabilities are reading at a proficient level. Students with emotional or behavioral disabilities are suspended at very high rates and have the lowest graduation rates.
What are your plans to strengthen Wisconsin's Medicaid program and protect against drastic cuts that could jeopardize services people rely upon, such as personal care and Katie Beckett (http://www.partnersinpolicymaking.com/history/vision_changemaker_beckett.html) supports for families?
Key Wisconsin Fact: 1.1 million State residents are served by Wisconsin's Medicaid-related programs, including 202,624 residents with disabilities. Medicaid allows eligible people with disabilities to receive critical supports like help with meals, medications, dressing, community participation and employment.
Do you support employment as the first and preferred outcome for all working age citizens with disabilities when they are receiving public supports? How would you address the high unemployment rate for this population?
Key Wisconsin Fact: The national employment rate for people with disabilities is 19.9% compared to 69.2% in the general population. Currently, only 9-14% of Wisconsin residents in the publicly-funded long-term care system are competetively employed. Advocates support Employment First (http://www.apse.org/docs/Revised%20Employment%20First%20paper%20709%5B1%5D.pdf) policies that promote employment at competitive wage as a priority goal for working age people with disabilities who receive publicly funded services.
How will you protect and increase public transportation investments that allow people with disabilities to get to work and participate in the community?
Key Wisconsin Fact: In southeastern Wisconsin, transit services have been cut over 20% in the last ten years and fares are some of the highest in the country. Reductions in transit aids have resulted in significant reduction in paratransit services statewide.
As an example, my son could not take public transportation to visit his grandmother in Oak Creek as the routes are not available to him.
How will you support the redesign of Wisconsin's system of community-based mental heath treatment for adults and children which is over-reliant on the county tax levy? How will you ensure persons living with serious mental illness can live in the community?
Key Wisconsin Fact: According to state data 233,717 adults in Wisconsin have a serious mental illness and about 60,000 children have serious mental health conditions-104,735 are children with serious emotional disabilities. Wisconsin's public mental health system provides services to only 17.3% of adults with serious mental illness and only 3.1% of children who have a serious emotional disability.