On October 16, 1992, I began working at what was then called the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. Since then, I have had the honor and privilege of meeting people with developmental disabilities and their families all over this state. I have spent the last almost 30 years fighting for equity and the rights of all people including those with developmental disabilities. We have made great strides in creating a state that is prepared to offer long term services and supports in the most integrated setting. Are we where we want or should be? NO. There is still a lot to be done.
We have made great strides in creating a state that is prepared to offer long-term services and supports in the most integrated setting. Are we where we want or should be? NO. There is still a lot to be done.
However, this work will continue without me at the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD). On Thursday October 14, 2021, I announced to the Council that I will retire on May 1, 2022.
I want to thank you for your support and collaboration over these years, but it is time for new blood to take over. There are lots of stories to share and issues to discuss. Maybe in the few remaining issues of Making a Difference, I will explore these.
October is National Disability Employment Month and Georgia lags behind in getting people into jobs. This is partially because we still have legacy providers who are holding on to sheltered work facilities where individuals are paid pennies for their work. It is time that we end the use of sheltered facilities and make employment the first option for people with disabilities. We had hoped that the establishment of an Employment First Council would lead to this outcome. However, that group has not met in almost a year and it appears its work will be considered a failure. We must not let this end the goal of increased employment for people with disabilities.
You can help GCDD with this message by talking with your elected officials NOW. Don’t wait until the legislative session starts in January. Instead, let’s all take the time to reach out to our state representatives and senators. Remind them that there are over 7,000 people waiting for home and community-based services. Remind them that people want to go to work. Remind them that there is a budget surplus and some of that money should be used to pay direct support professionals a living wage. Now is the time for the legislature to make a serious attempt to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities and their families.
I have written these same words many times in this column and we continue to fight. We have an opportunity, but it rests with the readers of this magazine to do the hard work. GCDD is a small but mighty organization that relies on people across the state. I hope you will do your part.
I want to thank you for the last 30 years. It has been my pleasure working for you.
Let us know your thoughts and comments about the magazine by writing to Tianna.Faulkner@gcdd.ga.gov.