July 8, 2020
To: WACOSA friends & families
From: Steve Howard, Executive Director
Re: Call to Action!
As clients, family members, and our dedicated supporters, I am writing to you specifically to ask for your assistance in taking action now to save services for individuals with disabilities like those WACOSA provides. We as service providers do our best to advocate for individuals and their families. However, our efforts/opinions often carry minimal impact with legislators, the governor or representatives from the Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC). Truly, the most impactful input comes from clients who advocate for themselves, in addition to the family members and community members who support them. We hear this regularly from these individuals.
Contacting your legislators now to express concern regarding the loss of these services has never been more important. There is a Special Session of the legislature scheduled to begin on Monday, July 13, 2020 expected to take up a number of public policy concerns not finalized during the regular session. This may well be our last chance this legislative year to stop the closure of many disability-related services across the state of Minnesota. It is important your voice be heard to ensure services for individuals with disabilities receive emergency funding to stay in business through the current pandemic. To date, a large number of community programs have received such help. Presently, services for individuals with disabilities remain last in line. Below is a list of House Representatives from Central, Minnesota. Please reach out to your respective legislative Representative and ask for their support. The senate has already voted 67 to 0 in favor of financial relief for our services. No such vote has occurred in the House of Representatives. The individuals below can support us in this effort:
When either calling or emailing these individuals, please provide a personal note asking them to, “Preserve programs that provide day services to individuals with disabilities in Central, MN by joining with the senate to authorize relief funding for programs like WACOSA during the current COVID-19 pandemic”. Once these programs are gone, people with disabilities will have limited options on what they will be able to do as they spend time during their daily lives living and working.
Additionally, below are three links to a KSTP Channel 5 Investigative Report regarding the imminent loss of disability service providers across Minnesota. The links appear in the order they were aired on Channel 5. These testimonies offer just a few perspectives of organizations that may not survive through the end of the summer. Should these programs close, I assure you more will follow.
Finally, please reach out if you are a person who receives services or are a family member who supports them to the MN Disability Law Center (MDLC) for support and advocacy. Currently, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is prohibiting clients in congregate living situations from participating in day services. WACOSA supports the right of those individuals and their families to make this choice on their own. Their contact information is:
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
Minnesota Disability Law Center
111 N. Fifth Street, Suite 100
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(800) 292-4150. They also have additional information available at www.lawhelpmn.org.
Thank you for acting now prior to the start of the special session on Monday, July 13, 2020.