Meadville Tribune

Opinion

April 7, 2014

The Arc: A welcoming community of support

Let me give you some background about services that The Arc of Crawford, Warren and Forest counties provide to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These individuals are your neighbors, loved ones and family members.

The Arc of Crawford, Warren and Forest counties advocates for the rights of citizens who have intellectual disabilities, enhancing their lives by promoting maximum independence and affording them opportunities for  enrichment in their communities.

The Arc has been an active participant in service to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for more than 55 years and has developed from a strong core of parents and volunteers into a large, professionally managed operation. It still remains, however, a unique blend of volunteers and professionals, with final authority resting in the volunteer Board of Directors.

Have you thought of how families may struggle with care for relatives with intellectual and developmental disabilities or how some with disabilities may struggle as their parents and/or caregivers age?

One area where The Arc advocates is The Pennsylvania Waiting List. Pennsylvania’s ID Waiting List          includes those receiving none or only some of the services and supports outlined in their Individual Support Plan (ISP). Based on need, people fall into emergency, critical or planning status on the Waiting List.

The PA Waiting list Campaign is working every day to end that wait. To learn more about the PA Waiting List, please visit pawaitinglistcampaign.org.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has added an additional $41.5 million to provide home and community-based options for people with disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.

John Finnerty’s story in The Meadville Tribune of March 13 regarding the Waiting List for services for families of children with intellectual disabilities highlights an important advocacy issue for the Arc of Crawford, Warren and Forest counties.

For more than 60 years, The Arc has worked with families to develop long range plans for services beyond their ability to care for their child. Over the years, addressing the Waiting List has allowed families the time to plan for services and see them implemented.

In thinking of the Waiting List, I am reminded of two mothers who faithfully raised their children at home and provided them the love and support needed to thrive in the community. The untimely diagnosis of brain cancer forced the implementation of services long before they desired to cease supporting their adult child with intellectual disabilities.

Luckily for these two elderly mothers, funds were available to ensure the transition to services prior to their death. Their involvement in choosing the support and knowing the needs of their adult child would be met was reassuring and allowed them to focus on their health needs.

In Crawford County alone, 138 individuals are listed on the Waiting List, although not all of them are considered emergency needs. Gov. Corbett’s budget ensures elderly and other caregivers’ needs are addressed by providing funding to remove some individuals from the waiting list for services.

Public policy issues like the Waiting List are important to families and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc of Crawford, Warren and Forest Counties will continue to advocate to address this issue and will continue to work toward assisting families to plan for a transition of their loved one into a welcoming community of services and supports.

 Randy Gorske is executive director of The Arc of Crawford, Warren, Forrest Counties and can be reached at 724-7346 or rlgorske@windstream.net.

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