With one stroke of the pen the Family Support Program is facing extinction in the upcoming 2010-2011 State Budget process. This Program has been serving the needs of the disabled Statewide since 1988 and enables them to stay in their homes and communities. In fiscal year 2009 there were 3,991 families served Statewide and 6,363 on the waiting list. In District 4, which serves the Upper Cumberland, there were 443 families served and 501 on the waiting list.
This Program is the least expensive, most cost effective, of all programs providing home and community-based services to people with all types of disabilities. Funding for fiscal year 2009-2010 consisted of $200,000 from the State and the remainder came from Economic Stimulus funds. If these temporary Economic Stimulus funds aren’t replaced that would eliminate this program. The Department of Intellectual Disabilities Services has proposed in its fiscal year 2010-2011 budget to fund the Family Support Program with $200,000. This amounts to a disabled person receiving $50 for the year. This is a travesty and unacceptable.
Here is a typical request made to the Family Support Program administered by Pace Setters in District 4. An elderly, disabled lady called recently and explained that she has not had electricity since May and would appreciate any help she could receive. Unfortunately all funds for this Program had already been distributed and there were none left. Some other local options were recommended but she explained that she had called some and “we were her last resort.”
A local recipient states, “This is the best Program ever. If we did not have this support, more times than I can count we would have been homeless.” Another recipient, commenting about her son who is paralyzed from the waist down, states “Without the help of the Family Support Program we would not have been able to make our home handicap accessible. Family Support didn’t pay for all of it, but they sure helped us out. There just isn’t any other Program out there that could or would help us.”
As concerned, caring citizens we must stand up and be the voice for those that can’t speak out. I urge all Tennesseans to write to your Senator and Representative and urge them to fully fund the Family Support Program for fiscal year 2010-2011.
Gordon Jackson, Chairman
District 4 Family Support Council