"Please know that this budget will result in young adults losing the supports they need to be become more independent members of society. By cutting transition, or wait-list services, we don’t just lose a program, we lose the long-term benefit – contributing members of our communities."
Nashua Telegraph Op-Ed: Cuts Won’t Eliminate Problems
By Sandra B. Pelletier
(Sandra B. Pelletier is president and CEO of Gateways Community Services in Nashua)
The House Finance Committee’s proposed budget cuts to programs provided through the Granite State’s developmental services system is one of the largest in this year’s proposed budget. These programs provide support and service to some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people in New Hampshire.
Having worked with people with developmental disabilities and acquired brain disorders for more than 30 years, I have seen what happens when short-sighted budget cuts take away services. In all my years in working with people and families in the greater Nashua region, I have never witnessed budget cuts of such sweeping proportions.
The House Finance Committee’s proposed budget will essentially shut the door to our region’s most vulnerable children transitioning from school supports to community supports. It will dismantle family-support programs for people with developmental disabilities and cause hardship for those who do a lifetime of heavy lifting by caring for their loved ones. It will chip away at our already overtaxed safety system.
Please know that this budget will result in young adults losing the supports they need to be become more independent members of society. By cutting transition, or wait-list services, we don’t just lose a program, we lose the long-term benefit – contributing members of our communities.
The loss of services that teach people with developmental disabilities day-to-day living and employment skills means a huge loss, now and in the future. Families of people with developmental disabilities provide food, housing, clothes and oversight for their loved one and rely on relatively small dollars from the state for respite and day supports. By taking this away, will these caregivers be forced to leave jobs or grow so tired they just can no longer do the heavy lifting? If our local system is undercut even further, supports for these people will be an undue burden on their families and the community at large. Just because state support and services go away does not mean the need disappears. We will only downshift House cuts to our cities and towns. A mentor has shared with me this question, “What is the role of government?” I ask you, “Is it not to support our most vulnerable citizens?”
Often, families come to me and ask, “What next?” According to the recommended House budget, my answer may very well be, “You will need to wait.” The proposed cuts will push families and caregivers in critical need beyond their financial, physical and psychological capacities at costs immeasurable by standard accounting, costs that our families know all too well. Undoubtedly tough choices must be made in balancing the state’s budget. The safety, health, and well-being of our most vulnerable children and families cannot be one of them.