Delays and Denials of Promised Services Common for People with Disabilities

November 23, 2020

Arizona Experiences a Breakdown of State Run Aid

Arizona was once considered among the best places in the country for people with disabilities to reside. For decades, the state was a shining example to other states for implementing well run service programs for people with developmental disabilities. This was mainly due to an innovative and generously funded Medicaid program established in 1988, which aimed to have people with developmental disabilities remain at home with family or live in small group settings versus expensive placements in large institutions. Unfortunately in recent years, these same programs which run through Arizona’s Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) have suffered a downturn, causing many people with disabilities unable to access critical services. A recent investigative report from the Arizona Daily Star and appearing in ProPublica points to years of budget cuts, poor management and leadership turnover as the main causes of the DDD’s current failures. Most disturbingly, the article indicates that Arizona suffered a major blow in 2018, when a severely developmentally disabled woman living in a state-run institution gave birth to a full-term baby boy. A nurse was later arrested and charged with sexual assault. This incident led to a governor’s task force and legislative oversight committee to work on policy recommendations. Several reforms were making their way through the Arizona legislature in early 2020 just as COVID-19 pandemic broke out and abruptly ended the session. In the meantime, parents are distressed by waiting lists, long battles to find caregivers who receive low pay resulting in high turnover and vacancies. The situation for many special needs parents in Arizona is reaching the point of desperation.

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