Imagine the power of four million
Californians with disabilities voting.
Disability Vote California aspires to make this a reality. A non-partisan campaign inspired by REV UP, our mission at Disability Vote California is to engage and inform voters with disabilities and create dynamic regional teams which will facilitate access to voting for their friends, colleagues, and neighbors with disabilities.
There are many ways for you to get involved:
Become A Leader!
Our mission is to engage and inform voters with disabilities and create dynamic regional teams that will facilitate access to voting for their friends and neighbors with disabilities.
Go to DisabilityVoteCA.org
to sign up for webinar trainings to become a team leader in your community!
Show people the strength in our numbers: Download and print this flyer and write in your reasons for voting. Snap a selfie and post it to social media using the #DisabilityVoteCA #RevUp hashtags. Or email your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post them to the website for you.
Visit DisabilityVoteCA.org to learn about the voting rights of people with disabilities in our state, see interviews and promos from prominent figures, and sign up to participate in our webinars for county leadership.
Equal Access to Voting in California - Can You Vote If You Are Under Conservatorship?
Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are routinely denied their right to vote. The Federal Voting Rights Act gives states the authority to enact laws to deny people the right to vote by reason of "criminal conviction or mental incapacity". The California Constitution does limit voting based on the federal criteria which has historically led to an undue denial of the right to vote for many people with I/DD who are under conservatorship. The state has defined mental incapacity in a manner that is not particularly reflective of what we know about people with I/DD today. Click
here to read the state definition.
For example, among the criteria to determine capacity is the ability to reason using abstract concepts, the ability to reason logically or the ability to plan, organize and carry out actions in one's own rational self-interest or ability to attend and concentrate. There are several other criteria listed as well and the law states that there only need be a deficit in "at least one
". It goes without saying that there are many people with I/DD who are fully capable of understanding who they want to vote for while at the same time exhibiting a deficit in one or more of the defining criteria. We know that a person with cerebral palsy who uses eye gaze technology, but perhaps is under conservatorship for support with medical and financial decision making, could and should be able to vote but by the nature of their disability they would easily be considered deficient in one or more of the defining criteria.
Without a doubt there are reasons why caution should be used to protect the democratic process and guard against voter fraud and vulnerability. The potential to exploit people with I/DD and the voting process is there and a genuine concern so laws protecting that process are definitely warranted. However, in protecting that process we cannot take away the rights of thousands of people who are capable of voting. Thus, it is essential that state laws narrow the grounds on which they deny the right to vote to those who are truly unable to understand the nature of what they are doing when they are voting. Thankfully, California heard the call of thousands of people and in October 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 589 Voting: Voter Registration: Individuals with Disabilities and Conservatees
which changed the law to allow individuals with disabilities under conservatorship to retain their right to vote unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the individual cannot communicate, with or without reasonable accommodations, a desire to participate in the voting process. This was a critical piece of legislation to improve the protections of adults with I/DD to maintain their voting rights in California.
To learn more about how to get voting rights restored for and individual under conservatorship click here
This Month the Monday Morning Memo is Sponsored by:
From the Frontlines of Accessible Voting
Voting, the most fundamental level of civic participation, is often considered something that is fairly straightforward. That is, until it isn't. For those of us in the I/DD and larger disability communities, it's much like the rest of life - an opportunity to encounter and challenge barriers.
However, in five SB 450 "Voter's Choice Act" (VCA)
implementation counties - Sacramento, San Mateo, Nevada, Napa and Madera - everything was different. On the face of it, the changes for some, were, again straightforward: All voters received a mail-in ballot (this change was in all counties statewide) and... (From here forward, I will provide you with a reading soundtrack recommendation: "Changes" by the late David Bowie.) The VCA pilot counties became an "All-Mailed Ballot/Vote Center Election Model."
That last bit, the "Vote Center" part essentially meant that places where ballots would be cast, formerly known as polling places, were going to be dramatically different. Some of them would be open for as many as 11 days, and others for four. All of them would have at least three fully accessible ballot marking machines. The vote centers were required to be, when possible, located near public transportation. And on the "vote by mail" side, voters with disabilities have the opportunity to access a "Remote Accessible Vote by Mail System" (RAVBM)
to provide an opportunity for increased privacy and accessibility for mailed ballots.
I was fortunate in that I had a history as a disability rights advocate and past president of Disability Organizing Group For Initiating Total Equality (DOGFITE), and had met Dr. Mindy Romero, Director of the California Civil Engagement Project and unquestionably California's rockstar voter engagement policy wonk. Several years ago, Dr. Romero planned a public opinion research opportunity on disability voting access, convened by Ted Jackson, Community Organizer with the DONetwork
(a statewide independent living advocacy network) for persons with disabilities. I was lucky to be a part of that table.
As you might be able to tell, my first year as Director of Advocacy Services at Resources for Independent Living
has given me a crash course in voting advocacy for people with disabilities. Previously, my knowledge had been limited to my own experience with physical barriers at a polling place: a closed, non-accessible exterior door. One of my first times voting in California, I also had to wait about a half-hour while the single accessible ballot marking machine was set up, because no one had requested use of it.
Now I know that the most locally-powerful, influential advisory body is the county's Voter Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC). These committees offer direct input to the counties' Election Administration Plans. This is the room that all persons with disabilities interested in voting accessibility should absolutely be in. Some counties may not yet have VAACs that are active, and others may still be unaware that the word on the street is California Sec. of State Alex Padilla hopes to have the VCA model deployed statewide by 2020. And even after the changes in the pilot counties, a closed door can still be an issue. (My closest Vote Center did not have an ADA power-assisted door opener... Thankfully, I knew to call the county's Registrar of Voters!)
I also know that change can be good. It felt empowering to be able to use a ballot marking machine that was just like every other ballot marking machine in the room: accessible. The results from the changes are also encouraging. The increase in turnout compared to 2014 (also a nonpresidential election year) between the five pilot VCA counties averaged 12.95% according to data from the Secretary of State's office. Here in Sacramento County, voter turnout was 41.9%. Impressive for a nonpresidential election.
The real story is still ours for the making, however. The new VCA changes are an absolute positive shift toward increased accessibility.
"In Colorado, they went to a system similar to [the Voter's Choice Act], and their turnout in 2016 was 69 percent," Jackson said. He added he is looking forward to seeing numbers for voter turnout for people with disabilities in VCA pilot counties.
"I'm feeling very positive, actually," Jackson said.
I am also looking forward to the future. Here in Sacramento County, we've got a chance to further expand access, to grow from lessons learned and improve the VCA model for November's election. But we need engagement from our community in order to succeed. We need to hear stories about voting accessibility barriers. We need our community to be present in VAACs (and Language Accessibility Advisory Committees [LAAC] too!). We need to hear you.
"There is a whole lot of work that REV UP!
has done to mobilize the disability community," Jackson said. " I feel like everywhere folks are mobilizing. Voter turnout is getting more familiar for grassroots disability organizations, so it's getting easier to fit in their plans."
It's true. The ability to use a computer with assistive technology from home to independently mark a mail-in ballot or visit a Vote Center and use an accessible ballot marking device - in some places, more than a week before "Election Day" - means increased access for our community.
But sometimes there can still be a closed door in the way. Barriers to voting access, and the real truth is that election policy and access is subject to change - just like everything else - motivated my desire to engage. If we can all take a seat at the table and have our voices heard, together, the future of California's elections will be increasingly accessible to all.
California's 2018-19 Approved Budget
June 27th, 2018 - California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law
the 2018-19 State Budget. The intellectual and developmental disability
community will benefit in two major areas: Investments made to SSI/SSP
and special education. The Budget, however, lacks the needed investments
into community services and supports. A summary of the impacts this
budget will have on the community is below:
Regional Center Services
The budget estimates regional center caseload growth from
317,837 clients to 332,738 clients. The budget includes $330 million
increases in regional center purchase of services; of that amount $178.5
million is due to increases in the state minimum wage. Total budget for
regional centers is proposed to increase to $6.9 billion in 2018-19
from $6.35 billion in 2017-18. Specific items include:
- $25 million provider rate increase for only one year. Money will
be used as a "bridge" to help fund services until a new rate study is
released in 2019;
- No restoration of social recreation or camping services (these
critical services were eliminated during the recession and advocates
have fought hard to restore them and it was approved by both the
Assembly and Senate, but it was eliminated in last minute negotiations
with the Governor);
- Implementation of the 14-day mandatory furlough schedule will be delayed for one year;
- Half-day billing (essentially a cut to provider reimbursement
rates) could be implemented for a loss of $1.4 million (this statute has
existed since it was enacted in 2009; however, due to The Arc
California's lawsuit the state has not recently enforced it. The
Governor's budget did not suggest that they would begin to enforce it
again but it could be possible that they would try);
- $200,000 increase to provide supplemental payments to ICF-DDs consistent with a corresponding Medi-Cal rate increase;
- $300,000 increase to Kern regional center for management oversight and accountability;
- $1.5 million for Best Buddies program;
- Requires each regional center to include on its Internet Web
site any procedures and assessment tools used by the regional center to
determine the level of respite services needed by each consumer (this is
in response to last year's budget change which removed the cap on
respite services that was enacted in 2009, and reports that some
regional centers are not updating their respite policies as a result)
number of residents in the remaining developmental centers is projected
to decrease to 534 by July 2018, and 323 by June 30, 2019. Sonoma
Developmental Center is scheduled to close December, 2018. Overall
funding for the developmental centers decreases from $485 million to
$385 million, including:
- $10 million for the Department to address deferred maintenance issues at the Porterville developmental center.
recipients received a big win in this year's Budget. The Budget
includes $2.8 billion General Fund for the SSI/SSP program. The average
monthly caseload in this program is estimated to be 1.3 million
recipients in 2018-19, a slight decrease from the 2017-18 projection.
The SSI/SSP caseload consists of 70 percent people with disabilities,
28.6 percent aged, and 1.4 percent blind.
- Effective January 2018, maximum SSI/SSP grant levels are $910
per month for individuals and $1,532 per month for couples. The federal
cost of living adjustments based on the current Consumer Price Index
growth factors are 2 percent for 2018 and a projected 2.6 percent for
2019. As a result, the maximum SSI/SSP monthly grant levels will
increase by approximately $20 and $29 for in- dividuals and couples,
respectively, effective January 2019. CAPI benefits are equivalent to
SSI/SSP benefits, less $10 per month for individuals and $20 per month
- SSI/SSP Cashout Repealed - The budget repeals state law that
cashed out eligibility for federal SNAP (CalFresh) benefits in exchange
for a $10 increase in the SSI/SSP grant amount. By ending cashout
beginning in June, 2019, the state will permit SSI recipients to apply
for CalFresh. It is estimated that as many as 375,000 SSI recipients may
become eligible for CalFresh. Benefit levels will be based on a table
developed by DDSS in consultation with stakeholders.
- Transitional Nutrition Benefit (TNB) Program - The budget
establishes a second new program to "hold harmless" households that will
lose all eligibility for CalFresh due to the end of cashout. CalFresh
households which include one or more SSI recipients will now have the
SSI income considered when calculating CalFresh eligibility and benefit
amounts. It is estimated that over 7,000 house- holds will lose all
CalFresh due to the end of cashout. The TNB will provide a monthly
supplement to the CalFresh amount so long as the family remains on
CalFresh when cashout ends and the SSI recipient remains in the
- State Supplemental Payment Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) -
The budget restores the COLA for the state portion of the SSI/SSP grant
beginning July 1, 2022 based on the California Necessities Index. The
SSP COLA was suspended in 2009 during the recession and only one COLA
has been provided since that time.
Provider Paid Sick Leave - The Budget includes $29.9 million General
Fund to reflect implementation of eight paid sick leave hours for IHSS
providers beginning July 1, 2018. Also, no later than February 1, 2019,
would require the State Department of Social Services, in consultation
with the Department of Finance and stakeholders, to reconvene the paid
sick leave workgroup for in-home supportive services. The bill would
require the workgroup to discuss how paid sick leave affects the
provision of in-home supportive services and to consider the potential
need for a process to cover an in-home supportive services recipient's
authorized hours when a provider should need to utilize his or her sick
time. The bill would require the workgroup to finish its work by
November 1, 2019.
Health Rate Increase - The Budget includes $64.5 million for a
50-percent rate increase and associated increases in utilization for
home health providers that provide medically necessary in-home services
to children and adults in the fee-for-service system or through home and
community-based services waivers.
restoration of full dental services for adult beneficiaries in the
Medi-Cal program became effective January 1, 2018. This year's budget
includes other major investments that will specifically benefit the
special needs community:
- Allowances for Additional Time for Individuals with Special
Health Care Needs: Based on stakeholder feedback, dental providers will
be reimbursed for additional time needed by individuals with special
health care needs. The associated supplemental payment will be 60
percent of the Schedule of Maximum Allowances (SMA).
- Supplemental payment categories include restorative, endodontic,
prosthodontic, oral and maxillofacial, adjunctive, and visits and
diagnostic services. These payments will be maintained for 2018/19 at 40
percent increase of the SMA.
budget includes several investments into special education funding in
California, including funding to recruit and retain special education
teachers and capacity building for early care. See The Arc California's
June 25th Monday Morning Memo for detailed information. Approved budget
items are below:
- $167.2 million in Proposition 98 funding for the Inclusive Early
Education Expansion program. Under this program grants will be provided
to local educational agencies (LEAs) to increase access to subsidized
early care and education programs for children from ages zero to five.
- $10 million in one-time funding to establish the Inclusive Early
Care Pilot Program. Under this program, county offices of education may
apply to receive grants to increase access to early care and education
programs for children with exceptional needs, including severe
disabilities, from ages zero to five.
- $50 million in one-time Proposition 98 funding for teacher
residency programs for special education teachers and another $50
million in one-time funding to recruit and retain special education
million to create a 3-year pilot program in the Counties of Sacramento
and Los Angeles for the purposes of increasing long-term employment
opportunities for young adults with autism and autism spectrum disorder.
The "Breaking Barriers in Employment for Adults with Autism Pilot
Program" requires the Workforce Investment Board to (a) Work with an
experienced nonprofit organization on the outreach, selection, training,
and compensation of young adults with autism to participate in the
(b) In collaboration with stakeholders, create a manual to
train employers in building workplace capacity for the targeted
population. (c) Once the manual is developed implement free employer
trainings in Sacramento and Los Angeles counties based on the manual.
Eligible uses of pilot program funds include, but are not limited to,
stakeholder outreach, student trainings, employer trainings,
administrative resources, and stipends for participating young adults.
This Month the Monday Morning Memo is Sponsored by:
Accessing Dental Care for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Could Get Easier in California!
Bill 1464 Medi-Cal: Benefits: Enrollees with Special Dental Care Needs
authored by Senator Scott Wiener passed out of the Assembly Health
Committee on consent earlier this week. This bill is an important step
toward increasing access to dental care for people with I/DD who may
need more time and or attention throughout the process or dental
procedures. If it gets passed and the Governor signs the bill it will
require the Department of Health Care Services to give provider's
payment adjustments for the extra time needed to address the unique
dental care needs for people with I/DD. Currently, Denti-Cal does not
reimburse dentists for any additional time that may be necessary to
treat dental issues or perform preventive treatments such as cleanings
and fluoride treatments. For years we have heard from dental providers
that they "just can't afford to accept Denti-Cal patients with special
needs" because the length of time it takes to do even simple procedures
and the low reimbursement rates. The next stop and step for the bill is
to make it through Assembly Appropriations Committee. If you are
interested in following this bill visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov
We are hopeful that this bill will make it through the legislative process and get signed by the Governor!
Good News! AB 1934 Signed into Law
Last week we received good news in our continuing effort to protect
people with I/DD from sexual assault, abuse and neglect. Governor Jerry
Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1934
, introduced and carried for us by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, the Assembly Public Safety Committee chair.
Our bill clarifies that people with disabilities are protected by
the elder and "dependent adult" and "dependent person" abuse, neglect
and sexual assault laws regardless of the fact that they live
independently. The bill also repeals unintended insulting language that
equates "dependent adults" and elders with children.
It passed the Assembly 66-0 and trhe Senate 36-0 and becomes law January 1.
Civil Rights Advocate,
The Arc of California
Your Voice Counts: Statewide Survey on Housing for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Participate in the Statewide Survey on Housing for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Your voice matters! The
Lanterman Housing Alliance, in partnership with the Corporation for
Supportive Housing and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities,
has created a survey to gather data on the housing needs of people with
intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) living in California.
answers to this survey will help the Lanterman Housing Alliance craft a
statewide strategic framework that will be used by policymakers,
service providers, and housing developers to better create affordable
housing opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental
Click here to take the survey.
The Community Transportation Association along with its partners
the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the Institute for
Community Inclusion of the University of Massachusetts-Boston is
pleased to announce the availability of a new round of funding for local
inclusive planning projects. CTAA, with financial support from the
United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration
for Community Living, and in collaboration with other federal and
national partners, is making available grants of up to $3