Support for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
My vision of Montgomery County is a community in which everyone feels safe, supported and respected – a community where all people are valued, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
Government services must be funded beyond crisis needs and aim to make individuals as independent as possible so that they can enjoy life and become productive citizens.
We should strive to eliminate barriers that prevent students with I/DD from graduating with a high school diploma, because that diploma is often a requirement for the employment that will support their independence.
Schools should provide options to combine inclusion with mainstreaming if that meets a student’s needs. In any case, students should receive the level of support and be subject to expectations that best suit their needs. I support teacher training and resources to encourage appropriate special education.
Students who are transitioning from school age entitlements to young adulthood should be supported so that they can be as independent as possible, including increased opportunities to develop appropriate life skills.
Regarding Individualized Education Program (IEP) development, implementation, and dispute resolution, a 2015 Review of Specific Special Education Processes and Procedures found that MCPS is in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). But the report also found that increased knowledge, training, and reporting would help ensure more meaningful participation in the development and implementation process for both parents and staff, and may help in resolving disagreements and disputes more collaboratively. For example, providing IEP documents in several languages would help meet the culturally diverse needs of parents in understanding the complexities of the special education process.
Health care issues greatly impact the lives of people with I/DD and their families, as they battle with discrimination, poor quality of care, and affordability.
Organizations that provide services to adults with I/DD are largely dependent on federal Medicaid reimbursement, which does not adequately account for the higher cost of living in Montgomery County, or the higher minimum wage. Historically, the County has provided an annual financial supplement averaging 125% of the County minimum wage to these organizations, and I support continuation of this supplement.
Housing, Employment, and Transportation
People with I/DD have the right to live and work in their community, and including individuals with disabilities strengthens our community.
Individuals with I/DD deserve safe, accessible, affordable housing in the community, without housing discrimination. The County should provide funding and services to enable them to live as independently as possible. I support universal design and visitability standards to help both those with disabilities and older adults.
I support career education to facilitate employment opportunities for people with I/DD, which will encourage independence and reduce reliance on government assistance.
People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities need access to both public and private transportation for community involvement and independence. Shared ride services, such as MetroAccess must be more reliable and more time sensitive.
I’m a supporter of Best Buddies, an organization that builds one-to-one friendships between people with and without I/DD. Founded in 1989 by Anthony Shriver, the organization has grown from its one, original chapter at Georgetown University to an international organization with more than 2,300 chapters worldwide.
My daughter, Victoria, joined Best Buddies in 1999, and she and her Buddy, Ramon, have been friends ever since. I’m happy to join them at the Maryland Best Buddies Friendship Walk on May 5, 2018.
And please join me in taking the Spread the Word to End the Word pledge now at https://www.r-word.org/. Ending the use of the word “retarded” is a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities. Instead of offensive, derogatory terms, let’s use respectful, people-first language. Language affects attitudes, and attitudes affect actions.