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Coalition asks legislature to accept funds for the disabled

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI)-Six statewide organizations are urging the Idaho Legislature to accept $64 million in federal funds to boost services and training for Home and Community-based Services in the state.  They said more than 10,000 Idahoans with disabilities could be served.

The six groups include the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities, Idaho Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, Idaho Parents Unlimited, Idaho State Independent Living Council, Idaho Voices for Children, and the Consortium for Idahoans with Disabilities.

The coalition says the combination of school closures, direct care workforce shortages, COVID-19, and program closures have left many people with disabilities without necessary therapy and support for the past year.

No additional state money would be needed to enact the relief that would not happen any other way.

Mike Sandvig, an Idaho Falls resident who is retired from INL, has a child with a two-pronged disability, autism and mental health issues. “These kids need lots of attention, so they do much better in a home environment than an institution,” he said. “There’s a real need for people who would be trained to deal with the combination of developmental disabilities and severe mental illness.”

“Families have been struggling with this issue for many years and COVID-19 has only amplified the need for training and support,” adds Christine Pisani, executive director of the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities. “The ability to use these funds to provide desperately needed training will help keep our families together and avoid out-of-home placements. This issue is facing families in every corner of the state. It’s heart-breaking.”

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