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There are many ways for helping us change the lives of people with I/DD and their families. You can make donations, sponsor an event or program, volunteer or even donate your talent supporting a specific project.
Dear Arc Community: These are stressful times for many of our families and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who have come to the United States from another country. From gender to race, to religion and sexual orientation - we are redefining immigration and what inclusion and diversity mean on a day-to-day basis and we must ensure that those who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities, including children and adults with autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Down Syndrome and many others with childhood lifelong disabilities are not left out of the conversation.
In recent weeks, we have witnessed national attempts to discriminate against immigrants with disabilities, making it harder for these individuals to legally enter or remain in the country. Deporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are in our country legally or preventing them from immigrating goes against the values of our nation.
In the words of our Arc national Director, Peter Berns, “At The Arc we believe people should have a fair opportunity to legally enter and reside in the United States and become a citizen, without restrictions based on disability. This includes those needing protection as refugees, asylees, and victims of human trafficking. Focusing on an individual’s need for support is a form of discrimination against people with disabilities we have seen before. But Congress, in the past, addressed the problem by ensuring that people with intellectual disability are provided accommodations as they try to enter our country legally, become citizens, and achieve the American dream like their peers without disabilities. Broadening the criteria for excluding or deporting immigrants based on need for support will harm people with disabilities and their families who have much to contribute to our society. If a family is otherwise eligible to enter or remain in our country, they shouldn’t be turned away or turned out because their child or another family member has a disability and may need to access government services to live and participate in the community.”
We can change attitudes and beliefs about intellectual and developmental disability as we engage in the local and global conversations about access and opportunity and recognizing discriminatory practices. Disability is diversity. And as you have seen in recent news, what makes our state strong and unique is our diversity, our deep sense of justice, and our willingness to stand up for and with those in need. The I/DD community is well-versed in these principles and holds them dear. Washingtonians with disabilities participate in all aspects of a modern human life including education, employment, civic engagement, social media, and getting medical care to stay healthy - and contribute significantly to our country’s economy and vitality. Including individuals with disabilities in our society is not just a good policy, it is a civil right that affects family members, employers, and our community when discrimination and injustice occur.
The idea that every child, in every community, should have the same opportunities in our strong public schools and our economically diverse communities is a notion that is embedded in our values. As Senator Patty Murray noted this week—it’s who we are—it’s in our blood.
The Arc of King County is committed to assisting anyone with a disability and all families who care for someone with an intellectual or developmental disability. That means every individual with I/DD - regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, country of origin, or immigration status - and their family member or caregiver - will be safe, honored and respected when you come to us for help. We will do whatever it takes to make sure each and every person with an intellectual or developmental disability thrives in Washington state and I want to reassure you, we will do everything within our power to make sure that The Arc of King County serves as a safe and welcoming place - for all.
My warmest regards, Stacy
Meeting with your state legislator or their staff can be one of the most effective ways to advocate. We can help with transportation on Advocacy Day Wednesdays - but you must reserve a seat in advance. Advocacy Days run through April 4.
Stay involved, virtually
Recent blog entries:
Be the change
We offer a civil rights activism program, Community Change Champions, led by people with disabilities for people with disabilities. And, of course, we offer our grassroots advocacy program, the King County Parent and Family Coalition for Developmental Disabilities.
Contact Ramona Hattendorf, Director of Advocacy, if you would like more information on these programs.
Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Program
The Arc of King County is one of 27 grant recipients for the new Best Starts for Kids Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Program. This 3-year grant from King County allows The Arc to provide intensive case management and flexible funding support so that families can maintain stable housing, preventing them from entering the homeless system. We are excited to partner with the County and the other local organizations to support our community!
Wondering who is eligible for this program? Here are the requirements:
Program participants might be individual young adults no longer living with their family, an adult with a I/DD who has at least one child under the age of 24 living with them, or a family that includes a child with I/DD under age 24 living with them.
Potential program participants must go through an intake interview with our Housing Stability Specialist which includes identifying the current barriers to stable housing, possible solutions to achieve stable housing, and a mutually agreed-upon support plan that both The Arc Case Manager and the family develop and implement together
For more information or to begin the intake process contact our new Housing Stability Specialist, Liz Sarmiento, at LSarmiento@arcofkingcounty.org or 253-226-4920. You can also contact Robin Tatsuda, Director of Information & Family Support, at RTatsuda@arcofkingcounty.org or 206-829-7011.
Join us on April 8, 2017 for this year’s Legacy Gala & Awards Ceremony!
Come celebrate inclusion, advocacy, and The Arc of King County's lasting legacy in Puget Sound. Dress in black and white and join us for the 10th annual presentation of The Legacy Awards, exciting silent and live auctions, dinner, a dessert dash, and live performances from Xolie Moarr & The Strange Kind. We look forward to honoring disability rights lawyer Kathy George and Unviersity of Washington's EEU Director, Ilene Schwartz. Thanks to our generous sponsors listed below, your attendance at the event will serve to generate revenue for The Arc, thereby helping us continue to provide free services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout King County.
House and Senate Bills Continue Special Education Inequities
Children’s Advocates Decry Funding Cap and Insufficient Instructional Aides
February 3, 2017
SEATTLE, WA – As the state House considers competing proposals to fix constitutional problems with school funding, an analysis by The Arc of King County found that both proposals would leave 8,688 students without any state funding to meet their special needs. Both proposals would exclude nearly 147,000 children with disabilities from funding reforms.
The House Appropriations Committee has scheduled public hearings on Monday on two proposals to address McCleary v. State, the lawsuit forcing the state to fully fund basic education. Those proposals – the House Democrats’ bill, HB 1843, and the Senate Republicans’ bill, SSB 5607 - would use different funding models to increase teacher salaries and boost various programs.
Special education, required by federal law to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities, is invisible in the reform discussions. Both bills would increase funding for nearly every program except special education. Both bills would retain an arbitrary cap on special education funding.
“In Washington, 1 out of 7 students is at a disadvantage in learning because of a diagnosed disability,” said Stacy Gillett, Executive Director for The Arc of King County, a nonprofit organization that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “These students have the same right to a fully funded education as anyone else, and an even greater need.”
Under current law, the statepays a base amount for each student’s education, and allocates an “excess” amount for each student who qualifies for special education. But the excess amount (0.93 percent of the base amount) is the same whether disabilities are mild or severe, and fails to meet actual needs. Also, the state refuses to pay for special education for more than 12.7 percent of a school district’s K-12 students. Although the 12.7 percent cap was highlighted as inequitable in the McCleary case, both the House and Senate bills would leave it intact.
According to an analysis by The Arc of King County:
“It is frustrating that an especially vulnerable group has been left out of reforms,” said Sue Elliott, Executive Director of The Arc of Washington, one of several advocacy organizations that filed “friend of the court” briefing in the McCleary case on behalf of students with disabilities. “If McCleary means anything, it is that all children are equal under the law.”
For more information, contact: Stacy Gillett, firstname.lastname@example.org, (206) 829-8776
UPDATE: This release updates numbers of children enrolled in special education services in Washington State. According to the Washington State Report Card, 146,807 students (or 13.5 percent of all public school students) are enrolled in special education services. The state will only fund up to 12.7 percent, per district.
You can find a breakdown of the districts exceeding the 12.7 percent cap here.