Advocates for the disabled file lawsuit against California

September 28, 2011

Advocates for Californians with developmental disabilities filed a lawsuit against the State of California Wednesday alleging the State is violating federal law by failing to adequately fund services needed by individuals with developmental disabilities.

The suit claims the State has abandoned people with developmental disabilities and exposed them to health and safety risks by failing to provide reasonable support services.  And that a decade of rate freezes, program closures and devastating budget cuts have destroyed many community-based services, leaving 245,000 Californians with developmental disabilities at serious risk.

“As California taxpayers, we fully appreciate the State’s need to reduce costs, but we cannot allow the State to endanger its citizens and risk their basic civil rights,” said Tony Anderson, Executive Director, The Arc California.

“It’s illegal to slash basic support services that allow Californians with developmental disabilities to live safely in their communities,” Anderson continued. “These basic civil rights cannot be compromised or bargained away as part of a budget deal. The State of California must follow the law and honor its commitment to serve and protect the rights of Californians with developmental disabilities.”

The suit, filed in federal court, says California’s failure to fund programs has devastated community service providers, whose reimbursement rates have been frozen since 2003.  Many community providers have been forced to limit services or close completely.

A decade ago, a report prepared by the Department of Developmental Services warned the State that its lack of reasonable funding would adversely affect tens of thousands of disabled individuals and place them at risk of harm.

“Despite repeated warnings from top state experts and the State Auditor General, California continued to withhold necessary funding and push these programs to the brink of collapse,” said Dave Carucci, Executive Director UCP San Diego.

“It’s not right, fair or legal and must be stopped, Carucci added. “The State’s neglect has left Californians with developmental disabilities at great risk, their health and safety is in jeopardy. All we are asking is that California comply with both state and federal law to ensure the basic needs of these individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are met.”

The federal lawsuit accuses the State of violating federal law, specifically the Federal Home and Community Based Service Providers (HCBS) waiver program, by reducing rates and reimbursements without federal approval, and without considering impacts on federally required safeguards.

The suit also accuses the State of violating California’s landmark Lanterman Act, which was signed by former Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1969.  That groundbreaking statute guarantees individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities the right to obtain the support services necessary to live as independently as possible in their own communities. Prior to the Lanterman Act, people with developmental disabilities were confined to state-run institutions, where they were warehoused in overcrowded facilities far from their families.

However, after more than a decade of funding neglect, including another $174 Million funding cut this summer, support programs that allow Californians with developmental disabilities to live in their communities are shutting down. The suit says that if Californians with developmental disabilities do not receive the community-based support they need and deserve, thousands may end up being shipped to state-run institutions where the cost to taxpayers soars. Community-based services cost a fraction of the $340,000 expense per person in State institutions.

This lawsuit asks the Court to enforce laws which require the State to provide the necessary funding to ensure adequate care. filed a lawsuit against the State of California Wednesday alleging the State is violating federal law by failing to adequately fund services needed by individuals with developmental disabilities.

The suit claims the State has abandoned people with developmental disabilities and exposed them to health and safety risks by failing to provide reasonable support services.  And that a decade of rate freezes, program closures and devastating budget cuts have destroyed many community-based services, leaving 245,000 Californians with developmental disabilities at serious risk.

“As California taxpayers, we fully appreciate the State’s need to reduce costs, but we cannot allow the State to endanger its citizens and risk their basic civil rights,” said Tony Anderson, Executive Director, The Arc California.

“It’s illegal to slash basic support services that allow Californians with developmental disabilities to live safely in their communities,” Anderson continued. “These basic civil rights cannot be compromised or bargained away as part of a budget deal. The State of California must follow the law and honor its commitment to serve and protect the rights of Californians with developmental disabilities.”

The suit, filed in federal court, says California’s failure to fund programs has devastated community service providers, whose reimbursement rates have been frozen since 2003.  Many community providers have been forced to limit services or close completely.

A decade ago, a report prepared by the Department of Developmental Services warned the State that its lack of reasonable funding would adversely affect tens of thousands of disabled individuals and place them at risk of harm.

“Despite repeated warnings from top state experts and the State Auditor General, California continued to withhold necessary funding and push these programs to the brink of collapse,” said Dave Carucci, Executive Director UCP San Diego.

“It’s not right, fair or legal and must be stopped, Carucci added. “The State’s neglect has left Californians with developmental disabilities at great risk, their health and safety is in jeopardy. All we are asking is that California comply with both state and federal law to ensure the basic needs of these individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are met.”

The federal lawsuit accuses the State of violating federal law, specifically the Federal Home and Community Based Service Providers (HCBS) waiver program, by reducing rates and reimbursements without federal approval, and without considering impacts on federally required safeguards.

The suit also accuses the State of violating California’s landmark Lanterman Act, which was signed by former Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1969.  That groundbreaking statute guarantees individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities the right to obtain the support services necessary to live as independently as possible in their own communities. Prior to the Lanterman Act, people with developmental disabilities were confined to state-run institutions, where they were warehoused in overcrowded facilities far from their families.

However, after more than a decade of funding neglect, including another $174 Million funding cut this summer, support programs that allow Californians with developmental disabilities to live in their communities are shutting down. The suit says that if Californians with developmental disabilities do not receive the community-based support they need and deserve, thousands may end up being shipped to state-run institutions where the cost to taxpayers soars. Community-based services cost a fraction of the $340,000 expense per person in State institutions.

This lawsuit asks the Court to enforce laws which require the State to provide the necessary funding to ensure adequate care.


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29 Comments

  1. Republicanmom says:

    My husband and I are Republicans that were blessed with a son born with Down Syndrome 17½ years ago. Does that make us Democrat? This is not a political issue it is an issue of the heart, at least for me. We take extreme great care of our incredible son. We are honored to raise him to be a productive member of society. But, reality is that it doesn’t matter how hard we work towards that goal there is always the reality that he has the mental capacity of a person less his age. This means decision making, driving, personal hygiene, sexuality issues and many more topics are addressed constantly.
    When you have a typical son that is 20 and completely self sufficient and an almost 18 year old that you still may have to help wipe his bottom, it puts it all into perspective. I want the best for both of my children.
    My oldest son did not sign up to be my youngest son’s caregiver. We thank God that he is mature and has offered in the event of our death. I would like to know that there are others that would love to provide a safe work and living program for our son. Doesn’t this create jobs? This makes people feel great to help others. How many of you would like to put your “typical” child in an institution? Then why would it be o.k. to do that to a person with a disability? They are not criminals. We are talking about humans, as I see it at this time animals and illegal aliens have more rights than the disabled. In that said, we will be saving the taxpayers a ton of money by keeping my son home in a safe loving environment, but hat may not allow my husband or I to work out of the home.
    Bottom line is when it was good it was good, California was giving money to everyone. Now that California is in trouble it is time to look at the “disabled California human being”. This to me is beyond comprehension.
    Clean up the corruption in the system, there is really a ton of money out there to be found, this is not the place to find it!

    (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
    • Cindy says:

      “Clean up the corruption in the system, there is really a ton of money out there to be found, this is not the place to find it!”

      I understand your concern. You like many have a family member that is truly in need. Your dilemma is representative of the kind of need that the program was initially intended to focus on. Unfortunately, the attorney’s got involved and corrupted the program to the point that the allocated funding is now disappearing into bottomless sinkholes.

      P.S. By the way, your right, the illegals do have more rights when it comes to taxpayer funding than our disabled citizens. It’s a damn shame.

      (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
      • Typoqueen says:

        A disabled person is a disabled person, whether they’re from Italy or from Mexico a human is a human we have a moral obligation to care for them. We need to stop them from coming illegally accross the border but not just let them die if they if they are already here, they are humans. We wouldn’t let dog a in the street go through pain, how can one not do what ever is in their power to help another human when that person is unable to care for themselves, what kind of country would allow that? Somalia would but I feel that we are better than that.

        (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      You sound like an amazing loving parent and I feel for the work that it must take to care for your younger son. I’ve worked with Down Syndrome children and they are some of the most amazing and loving people that I’ve ever come in contact with, they will aways hold a special place in my heart. I only worked with these kids a few hours a day, I know that it must be an incredible amount of work and stress for families like yours.

      I have to respectively disagree though when you say that this isn’t a political issue. I am curious to know if you would vote to raise the taxes on the wealthy to where the tax rates used to be years ago if it meant being able to improve or for that matter just maintain funding for people with issues such as your son? This shouldn’t be a political issue but when it comes to funding any programs such as programs regarding this topic then it becomes a political issue. I agree that something needs to be done to clean up these programs, there is a lot of waste and unneeded beaurocracy but they also need funding from public in the form of taxes. The population has increased which means there are more disabled people but the funding in the form of taxation has gone down, the math just doesn’t add up. Anyway, I’m curious about your opinion regarding raising taxes.

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  2. nahser says:

    Good day ladies and gentlemen,
    I am a single father to two autistic kids ages 8 and 5. I do not have family at all. My ex-wife left us and does not help with anything. I am all they got to care for them. I can not go out and work because the cost of some one else taking care of them will exceed what I will be earning. These kids are not lazy and they go to school. One day they will be working for us, since they are high functioning. I am not hear to call anyone names. I am just asking to see the view from where I stand. And on a related note, perhaps we should lobby for bringing our kids back from Afghanistan and Iraq, because the cost of one day there can help
    resolve our problem. Maybe the feds then will have the funds to assist the states a little. I think we should learn from history instead of trying to write it.

    (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down

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