The Florida Center for Inclusive Communities (FCIC) at the University of South Florida has launched a statewide public awareness campaign and website to reduce the vast number of individuals with developmental disabilities waiting for services needed to live independently.
The Florida Medicaid Waiver/ibudget program is a specially earmarked group of state and federal funds designed to provide Floridians with or at risk for developmental disabilities with a myriad of supports to enable them to live successfully in community-based settings, and to prevent or delay institutionalization. However, access to the services provided by the ibudget is heavily restricted due to funding. As of January 2017, there are over 20,000 people on the waitlist.
According to FCIC Director Dr. Elizabeth Perkins, “We identified the need for a social media campaign to educate the general public and new legislators about the waitlist issue. . . . We hope this ongoing effort will help mobilize more support from legislators to find additional funding to substantially reduce the waitlist.”
The DD Waitlist Campaign’s website provides an important hub for information, including data directly from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, a campaign flier, and a policy brief. Readers can also submit their personal stories about their wait for services, sign a petition, and even get guidance on how to contact their legislators. Organizations that wish to be listed as a partner agency in this effort are encouraged to contact Dr. Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The campaign’s website contains a lot of helpful information for both the public and those impacted by developmental disability, including tools self-advocates can use to disseminate information about the issue. The easiest and first steps self-advocates can take is to share the website and Facebook page with their friends, supporters, and group members (if they participate in a self-advocacy group) on social media.
Be sure to visit the DD Waitlist Campaign website, participate in the campaign by taking the other steps listed in their “Take Action” section (such as contacting your legislators), and widening general knowledge of this critical issue by asking those in your social media circle to do the same.