#AdvocacyMatters: The Home Stretch

May 14, 2021 / #AdvocacyMatters

Over the last several months, Disability Rights Ohio’s work has revolved around the state’s biennial budget as we advocate to Ohio’s legislature for the rights of people with disabilities. Since March, the bill as moved from the House to Senate, now passing the halfway point in the budget. For those following along with the budget timeline, we have entered the 5th of 7 stages: the Ohio Senate. 

DRO’s budget advocacy has been expansive, focusing on six core issues that impact Ohioans with disabilities:

1. Increasing investments to support direct support provider wages;
2. Ensuring Ohio draws entire federal funding for vocational rehabilitation services;
3. Providing additional oversight of hospitals;
4. Decreasing nursing home capacity through the nursing home bed reduction program;
5. Funding for care coordination preventing individuals from being placed in an institutional setting; and
6. Increasing investments supporting multi-system youth and preventing custody relinquishment.

To address the crisis, DRO has joined a network of providers, advocates, and organizations to advocate for the first of these issues: increasing direct support provider wages. With over 120 individuals and organizations statewide, the coalition has worked to educate policymakers and empower people with disabilities to engage in the legislative process.

From individuals to organizations, all members of the coalition work together to show legislators the need for additional provider funding and supports. Low wages contribute to a 50% turnover rate for direct support providers from year to year. This ultimately causes instability for older adults and people with disabilities who rely on this workforce to live independently in their communities. Investing in Ohio’s direct support providers reduces workforce turnover & decreases individuals' risk for institutionalization, greatly benefitting both parties.

As we enter the final stages of the budget process, our path is exceptionally clear. We will continue educating policymakers while empowering advocates and people with disabilities to share their stories. Every bit of testimony, every call, and each email you send shows Ohio just how much your #AdvocacyMatters.

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