A plea for community care | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A plea for community care

Posted By on Sat, Sep 11, 2010 at 6:54 AM

As testimony continues in the federal lawsuit over the operation of the Conway Human Development Center, I have a letter to share from parents on the side of more community treatment for people with developmental disabilities. To date, most public comment has come from families who are satisfied with care of relatives in human development centers and critical of the Justice Department lawsuit.

The letter is from Jeff Cook of Little Rock, who has a child who has been a state waiting list for services for three years. He works in an advocacy group. The state is fighting to preserve the status quo. Expanding community services costs money. The Justice Department believes they are better settings for many residents now institutionalized. The testimony in the government's case so far has been dramatic.

I am hoping you will consider telling your readers about the plight of the many Arkansans with developmental disabilities who are currently being denied services for years by our state, because they chose to receive services in their homes and communities rather than being confined in one of the state's human development centers.

Everyone is aware of the civil suits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) against the state and the poor treatment of residents of the state's human development centers. To date the state has spun the story that they are just standing up for the families who chose care in a human development center and that USDOJ just wants to close them.

What is not being told is that the state is not standing up for families who choose to have their loved ones served in their homes and communities. Our state has failed to provide adequate funding for the Medicaid Alternate Community Services Waiver (DDS Waiver) to serve Arkansans with developmental disabilities families who choose to receive services in their homes and communities rather than being confined to a human development center. As a result those choosing to be served by the DDS Waiver are placed on a years long waiting list. At present over 1500 individuals are on this waiting list which continues to grow. Those recently added to the list will have to wait over a decade to receive services without more funding for this waiver. The years long wait to receive community based services is steering some families to the states' institutions (Human Development Centers or HDC's) to receive help in a timely manner even though their loved ones could be served in a less restrictive environment in their homes and communities.

Being offered a choice, but being denied one of the choices is no choice at all. Being put on a waiting list is not a service. Further, both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Courts Olmstead decision say individuals with disabilities have the right to receive services in the least restrictive and segregated environment, so requiring unnecessary segregation and confinement in an institution to receive services violates Federal law.

The DDS Waiver is one of six Arkansas Medicaid Waivers. None of the other waivers have a decade long waiting list. Can you imagine what would happen if you learned your elderly family member was going to have to wait over a decade to receive services they need today to keep them from being confined to a nursing home? Why is this happening to individuals with developmental disabilities? Is it because many lack the ability to speak up for themselves?

My name is Jeff Cook and I am the parent of a child with a developmental disability. I am also serving as the state representative for NOEWAIT, an organization dedicated to end years long waiting list for individuals with disabilities to receive home and community based services. For the past two years I have advocated for ending the years long waiting list for the Alternate Community Services Waiver (DDS Waiver) in Arkansas whose purpose is to provide services to Arkansans with developmental disabilities in a less restrictive and segregated environment in their homes and communities. Unfortunately, the waiting list for the DDS Waiver has continued to grow due to our state's failure to provide adequate funding to provide services to those requesting DDS Waiver.

I hope you will tell this story by speaking out for these most vulnerable Arkansans, many of whom cannot tell the story themselves. I am hopeful if their story can be told, it will create the public's awareness and create political pressure for our elected officials to correct this problem that is growing worse day by day.

Jeff Cook

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (12)

Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Hear Our Voice: a message for politicians

    Hear Our Voice AR is holding an event from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight at White Water Tavern at which participants write postcards to elected officials.
    • Feb 19, 2018
  • New evidence brings a call for the impeachment of Justice Clarence Thomas

    Jill Abramson, writing in New York, says it's time to impeach Clarence Thomas. We shouldn't have a lying sexual harasser on the U.S. Supreme Court.
    • Feb 19, 2018
  • Conner Eldridge forms NWA law firm

    Conner Eldridge, the former western district U.S. attorney who made an unsuccessful Democratic race for U.S. Senate in 2016, has announced formation of a new law firm, based in Rogers, with Steve Brooks, a former Friday Firm partner.
    • Feb 19, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • The long and winding road: No exception yet for 30 Crossing

    The Arkansas highway department's representative on the Metroplan board of directors told the board today that the department is requesting an exception to the planning agency's cap on six lanes for its 30 Crossing project to widen Interstate 30 from six to 10 (and more) lanes.
    • Jun 29, 2016
  • Arkansas Times Recommends: A Literary Edition

    Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.
    • Jul 1, 2016
  • Medical marijuana backers: Health Department opposition 'disingenuous' and 'cruel'

    Arkansans for Compassionate Care, the group behind the first medical marijuana initiative to qualify for the ballot, has responded sharply to yesterday's statement by the Arkansas Health Department that it opposes legal medical use of marijuana.
    • Jul 13, 2016

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Most Viewed

  • Another Trump propagandist from Arkansas gets blasted

    If Sarah Huckabee Sanders is Donald Trump's Baghdad Barbie, spouting implausible statements in support of her boss in the style of Saddam's Baghdad Bob, then let's make El Dorado native Hogan Gidley Baghdad Ken.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation