We've come a long way over the past few months in our efforts to renew Early Start. What started as a modest grassroots campaign has grown to include a very large community of dedicated advocates with one goal... Renew Early Start! Within the past few months, thousands of people have signed the petition to renew Early Start. Forty different organizations jointly signed a letter specifically urging this reinvestment. And the Lanterman Coalition made it a top budget priority. As a result of this effort, both theAssembly and Senate Budget Subcommittees voted unanimously to return eligibility to pre-2009 reduction levels, and funded the program with $15.7 million a year, startingJanuary 1st, 2015.
Last night, the Senate and Assembly gave final approval to their action and sent both the Budget and concurrently-needed changes in law to the Governor for his consideration! The Governor has the power of the "line item veto," meaning he can cut individual programs' funding - or even eliminate them. He will be taking action on this - and all other Budget items - between now and June 30.
Alongside this renewal of Early Start is an opportunity to begin the process of reforming the regional center system's budgeting and funding processes. In the Budget approved last night by the Legislature, there is a requirement that the Department of Developmental Services convene workgroups to review and develop new ways to approach the real-life funding needs of service providers and Regional Centers.
We know service providers and regional centers are woefully underfunded for the work they do. Our system needs a cost-based Budget to properly serve not only children who need services after Early Start - but all of the 270,000 Californians with developmental disabilities served by the regional center system!
The two-fold message Governor Brown needs to hear is: Early Start is an investment that saves California money by changing lives; and a system based on true costs is more effective and efficient. Please don't veto Early Start or the system rate reviews!We have seen and lived firsthand the impact of Early Start - for those who had the benefit, and those who were denied it. And we all deeply understand how our system cannot effectively provide services and supports without a reality-based budget method. The Governor needs to hear this from you NOW.
There are four ways to send this message!
1) If you're a traditionalist, you can send a letter to:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
2) If you want to email his office online, please click here.
3) You can fax a letter to 916-558-3160.
4) Or you can even call, at 916-445-2841.
Whatever method you choose, please, do it today. DO IT NOW! Then forward this to your friends. Because tens of thousands of children and families have waited too long for access to this critical program, and because hundreds of thousands live each day in a system that desperately needs to be rebuilt.
Thank you for your advocacy!