SACRAMENTO, CA (CDCAN LAST UPDATED 07/07/2014 – 10:37 AM) – In what could be a significant step toward addressing what advocates and policymakers from both parties have called a major crisis in the regional center funded community-based system serving tens of thousands of children and adults with developmental disabilities, the Brown Administration announced that it will re-convene a task force with a new mission to look at ways to strengthen that community-based system hit since the early 2000’s with major reductions in services, cuts and freezes in rates and reimbursements. 
     The Brown Administration is reconvening the “Future of the Developmental Centers Task Force” composed of stakeholders and headed by California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley, that developed over 6 months last year recommendations on the future of the State owned and operated facilities that were widely praised by advocates and policymakers in both parties.  The Governor proposed – and the Legislature approved – several initial steps toward implementing those recommendations as part of the 2014-2015 State Budget.
    The first meeting of the reconvened task force is scheduled for July 24th in Sacramento.  The meeting – like all the previous task force meetings – will be public, with details of meeting location and times and agenda to be announced soon [CDCAN will issue report on this information when it becomes available. Marty Omoto, CDCAN Director is a member of the task force]. 
    People with developmental disabilities – including those diagnosed with autism spectrum and related disorders – may be eligible for regional center funded services – though many are not, under eligibility rules narrowed in 2005.  Persons eligible for regional center funded services – and many of those who are not – may be eligible for other community-based services including In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Medi-Cal, special education and other supports.   
    Diana Dooley, who as Secretary heads the huge California Health and Human Services Agency that oversees the various departments dealing with Medi-Cal, developmental services, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), aging, foster care, CalWORKS and other services,  said that the reconvened task force will develop recommendations to “…strengthen the community system in the context of a growing and aging population, resource constraints, availability of community resources to meet the specialized needs of clients, and past reductions to the community system.” 
    Issues to be examined by the task force, according to Secretary Dooley, will include community rates, the impact of new State and federal laws and regulations, and staffing levels at Regional Centers.
    Secretary Dooley, whose leadership on last year’s task force was widely praised and respected by advocates and legislators from both parties, noted that “…this diverse group of stakeholders did a remarkable job coming together, setting aside differences, and producing a set of recommendations to chart a course for the future of the Developmental Centers.  I believe this same group can build on that success by examining services in the community.  By working together and resisting the inclination toward either/or thinking, we can focus on appropriate services for people with developmental disabilities, regardless of setting.”
    Former director of the Department of Developmental Services Terri Delgadillo, also singled out last year for praise by advocates and policymakers in helping to shape the task force recommendations before her retirement from state service last December, served on the task force and will have her spot filled by the new department director, Santi Rogers.  Rogers, who previously headed for 18 years the San Andreas Regional Center in San Jose, was appointed as director of the department in March. 
    The 2014-2015 State Budget, as passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr., in June, included some major funding increases and restorations to health and human services, including child care providers; CalWORKs grants; payments with certain restrictions of overtime for home care workers including In-Home Supportive Service providers (effective January 2015), and restoration of eligibility to California’s early intervention program – called “Early Start” (effective January 2015) – but held off on restoring or unfreezing community-based provider reimbursements funded through the 21 non-profit regional centers under the Department of Developmental Services (DDS); restoring rates for many fee-for-service Medi-Cal providers; or restoring previously eliminated Medi-Cal benefits, cut in 2009, among the many services hit by previous reductions over the years.
    Both the Legislature and Governor cited continued uncertainty in revenues and spending levels as reasons to hold off on those funding increases this year. 
    When Governor Brown signed the package of bills making up the 20140-2015 State Budget on June 20th, he used his line item veto eliminating the appropriation that would have required the Department of Developmental Services to spend funds for a study with stakeholders to review and recommend an update of the core staffing formula for the 21 non-profit regional centers, and rate setting methodologies for community-based services and supports.    
    It was one of only two line item vetoes the Governor made in health and human services – none of which impacted direct services. 
    In his line item veto message, the Governor stated that he vetoed the additional expenditure approved by the Legislature because it would “…create a significant workload and cost pressures within a restrictive timeframe. Instead I am directing the Health and Human Services Agency to convene a task force to review both of these and other community issues that were identified in the Plan for the Future of the Developmental Centers.”
    One of the 7 recommendations by the task force included formation of a stakeholder group to look at ways to improve the community-based system of services.  
    Noting the Governor’s line item veto message and directive, Secretary Dooley said she was reconvening the stakeholder group “…consistent with a recommendation in the [Future of the Developmental Centers Task Force] Plan and in response to Governor Brown’s message in the recently signed Budget Act…” and “…will be charged with examining services for the developmentally disabled in the community.” 

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