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.
We head into the budget debate with bated breath, not knowing if the services that so many have come to rely on will be continued for people with disabilities. A two year freeze could mean waiting lists growing to the point that it may take over 10 years for individuals to access the assistance they need. I found it ironic as I led a press event at Independence First last week to hear from families and how they would be affected by placing a cap on Family Care and related programs, that Governor Walker was participating in a Special Olympics event. Governor Walker called these athletes angels. The first speaker commented that if Governor Walker thinks of these athletes as angels, than why is he cutting their wings.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have talked about the importance of Family Care to families with loved ones with disabilities. I have seen first hand the importance of these programs to allow people to live in their home, a much less expensive option than going to a nursing home.
Today, I started thinking about the other group that will be affected by caps on Family Care, the service providers. Whether they come from an agency or they are individuals providing care, there will be a direct impact on this group if a cap is placed on Family Care.
Workers provide personal care, hands on assistance with everything from bathing to dressing. These workers may onlt work a couple of hours in the morning and at night, but they ensure that individuals are staying healthy. The personal care workers are also making sure that people who are able, are getting out of bed. Many of these personal care workers have formed a bond with the individual. In many cases, this contact may be the only social interaction the individual has for long periods of time. Not because nobody cares about them, but because the rest of the family works and/or goes to school.
Workers also provide supportive home care. They may come in and prepare meals for an individual, food the individual has purchased on their own. Without this support, the individual would probably be eating a lot of microwave meals. The workers may help the individual get out into the community, picking up prescriptions, taking the individual to the YMCA for exercise and social interaction. The worker may help with light cleaing and laundry to ensure the individual is staying as healthy as possible.
Another group would be the case managers or consultants. People who have knowledge of how the programs are supposed to work and have the ability to provide accuarte information to the individual.
If there are no new enrollees in the programs, there will be no need to hire new workers. Isn't Governor Walker's committment to the people of Wisconsin to create 250,000 new jobs during his first term? Why is this particular segment of the work force going to be ignored?
Not only will the cap on Family Care affect individuals, but programs that could create jobs will now be closed down.
Now is the time to call your State Legislator and tell them to remove the caps from Family Care. There is no tomorrow on this issue. They want to vote this week. Governor Walker wants the budget on his desk by Friday.