WILKES-BARRE — Due to a projected loss of revenue, the 2014-15 state budget may not include critical funding for individuals with disabilities.
In response, The Arc of Luzerne County has issued a “First Alert Virtual Rally” for today in Harrisburg to ask people to call state and Luzerne County legislators to urge them to include the necessary funding for persons with intellectual and development disabilities.
Pamela Zotynia, executive director of The Arc, said that as of April 30, the waiting list numbers for Luzerne/Wyoming Counties are 194 emergency status, 165 critical, and 147 planning.
“These people will not receive services,” Zotynia said. “It includes high school graduates and those who have elderly parents who can not longer support their loved ones at home. Others are included as well.”
She said she is a family member of a person with significant intellectual and physical needs whom she has supported for 27 years.
“When his needs changed and he developed medical needs, I knew I couldn’t do it any longer,” she said. “He is fortunate that he was able to access services and now lives in a group home where his needs are met and his medical status is monitored closely.”
There are many other families like hers who are struggling to survive and keep their loved ones safe and healthy, she said.
Zotynia is asking people to contact their legislators to urge them to reinstate the funding proposed by the governor.
Over the past two years nearly 4,000 people got off the emergency waiting list, yet more than 4,000 people remain waiting, she said.
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, said The Arc of Luzerne County — and particularly its TRACE program — continues helps people through job training and life-skills developmental programs.
“We must look at the many available revenue generation proposals to ensure that proven, successful programs like TRACE do not fall victim to unnecessary budget cuts,” Yudichak said.
Zotynia said the TRACE program was developed by ARC of Luzerne County with state and federal funds as a pilot program — a work readiness program to help clients enter the work force. The budget for TRACE is $350,000, she said.