Wendy Forkas, CEO of Adjoin Testifies at the California Senate Subcommittee 3 regarding the Governor’s proposed 2024-2025 budget

In a recent testimony to the California Subcommittee 3 regarding the Governor’s proposed 2024-2025 budget on April 2, 2024, Wendy Forkas, Adjoin CEO and President of the California Disability Services Association (CDSA) Board of Directors, delivered a heartfelt and urgent plea. Her testimony shed light on the critical issues facing individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and their families in the state.

Forkas, representing Adjoin, a nonprofit organization with over 40 years of experience in providing services to individuals with IDD, brought attention to the challenges that have plagued the IDD community for years. She began her testimony by acknowledging the tough budget reality facing the state, emphasizing the responsibility that comes with making decisions that directly impact people’s lives and well-being.

One of the central points of Forkas’ testimony was the Governor’s proposal to delay the full rate model implementation. She expressed grave concern over how this delay would destabilize the lives of individuals with IDD and undo the progress made in recent years. Forkas highlighted the issue of chronic underfunding, which has forced providers to make difficult choices and ration services, impacting the quality of care individuals receive.

Drawing from real-life experiences, Forkas shared the story of Ed, a self-advocate who has been served by Adjoin for over a decade. Ed’s words, “I’m tired of training staff,” echoed the sentiments of many in the IDD community and service providers. Forkas emphasized the importance of a stable workforce in delivering quality services, noting that delays in rate implementation would hinder providers’ ability to hire and retain staff.

The impact of the delay extends beyond staffing issues. Forkas pointed out that it would exacerbate waiting lists for services, limit access to culturally appropriate supports, and place additional burdens on families. She recounted a parent’s heartbreaking story of having to quit her job due to a lack of available providers for her son, showcasing the ripple effects of inadequate funding and support.

In closing, Forkas urged legislators to consider the long-term impact on individuals with IDD and their families when making budget decisions. She emphasized the devastating consequences of delaying full rate implementation, echoing Ed’s simple yet powerful words when she asked him how the delay would impact him, “Devastating, Devastating.”

Forkas’ testimony served as a passionate plea for prioritizing the needs of the IDD community and ensuring adequate funding and support to uphold their rights and dignity. It underscored the importance of investing in a stable and robust system that can provide consistent and quality care to those who need it most.

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