By Michael Rock:
Disability services and providers have all been hit hard since the coronavirus emergency began. However, some states are handling the situation better than others.
In Pennsylvania, the disability services sector has been on the verge of financial ruin as budget cuts due to reductions in services have hampered their ability to pay their bills.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo recently announced a weekly emergency stipend would be given to direct support professionals in the state to better support them during the pandemic.
Colorado has proved itself one of the strongest state responders. Since the coronavirus hit, Governor Jared Polis fought to make sure that disability service providers would get the funding they needed and that hospitals would not discriminate against them in emergency scenarios. Meanwhile, Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet have advocated for greater funding of such services in a letter to their colleagues in D.C.
Kansas is also the home of former senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, who was recently recognized in the National Honors Recognizing Significant Contributions in the Field of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the US in its National Historic Recognition Project 2000-2020 commemorative booklet. A number of major disability advocacy organizations were part of the recognition committee that honored him for his involvement in numerous disability rights laws, including but not limited to the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now known as IDEA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
As we look at state responses to the coronavirus pandemic regarding their disability services providers, history will judge those policymakers who fought for their most vulnerable citizens, like Senator Dole, or who failed to support this important, but too often overlooked, segment of society.
Michael Rock is a New York City-based reporter and self-advocate with autism. A graduate of Brandeis University, his work has appeared in Kings County Politics, Chelsea Now, Our Town, Queens County Politics, and WhoWhatWhy.