Advocacy – the Webster’s dictionary defines it as, “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.” For those in the disability community, advocacy is an opportunity to support both a cause (the disability movement) and proposals (funding to address the waiting list and efforts to increase job opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD)).
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) hopes that these two come together into a growing disability movement that is working on issues like funding and legislation to improve the quality of life for people with I/DD and their families. But GCDD cannot do it alone. We are not the movement. The movement is composed of individuals with I/DD, families and allies. It takes all three to be successful in changing funding streams and passing legislation. In other words, we need YOU.
We often make the argument that the largest minority group are people with disabilities who have an almost $4 billion spending market. So, it’s time for YOU to show your support for the Disability Movement and it’s easy to do. Take 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to contact your state representative and senator. Tell them that now is the time to make sure that those on the waiting list get the services they need; to make sure that there are additional funds to increase rates so that direct support professionals can receive a living wage; and to support efforts that assist people with I/DD to get and keep a job that pays at least minimum wage. We will keep you informed of what is happening during the legislative session and we hope that you will let us know when you have contacted and heard from your legislators. It is easy to find your legislators if you don’t already have a relationship. You can find out who your elected officials are at Open States.
You can also be a part of this movement by participating in GCDD-supported Advocacy Days that will be held January 26, February 16 and March 16. Annually, we have about 150 people attend each of these days. While they may be virtual because of the COVID pandemic, it is still an opportunity to learn about the issues impacting people with disabilities. Be sure to sign up to learn about the policy process and speak with your legislators.
This edition of Making a Difference will cover the GCDD Public Policy Agenda, an update on self-directed services as an option for people with I/DD and their families, and more! We hope that these articles plus updates on what is happening in Georgia will provide you with new and useful information.
Let us know your thoughts and comments about the magazine by writing to Tianna.Faulkner@gcdd.ga.gov.
Tell us your thoughts about the magazine or what topics you would like to see addressed by emailing us at Tianna.Faulkner@gcdd.ga.gov, subject line: Letter to the Managing Editor