I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
I received a call on Wednesday asking my thoughts on Joint Finances decision to recommend placing a cap on Family Care and the related waiver programs. I told the caller that it had only been a couple of hours since I found out, I was still trying to put my thoughts together.
My first reaction to the news was a huge sigh of uneasiness. I thought what am I going to do now. As I continued to think about it, it was not how this is going to affect me, but how is this going to affect my son Tyler
In the last couple of weeks, we have started Tyler's transition to the Middle School. Part of this process includes thinking about his transition from High School. While this can be up to 9 years down the road, it is still part of the process we go through with his continued education.
Some may say that the freeze is only for 2 years and your son is about 4 years from being eligible to participate in the programs being frozen, why should you worry. But in 2 years nobody can say how many people will be added to the waiting list for these services. With over 11,000 people state wide on waiting lists, 2000 in Milwaukee County, that is a lot of people that will be ahead of Tyler. It took almost 5 years for Milwaukee County to take about 3000 people off the waiting list. I have heard stories of people waiting over 10 years for the waiver services.
Part of services that individuals can receive is job training. Who will be providing the job training in the future? If Tyler receives job training as part of his High School curriculum, what if he is still on the waiting list when he turns 22 and his High School days are over? Does he sit idle until he is off the waiting list?
My daughter, who is entering Middle School as well, has been talking about different careers that interest her. I see where she will have every opportunity to pursue her dreams. Will Tyler have the same opportunities? If not, why is he being singled out? It is the dream of every parent that their children will have a better life than they did. Will this be the case when Tyler reaches adulthood?
Governor Walker has talked about creating 250,000 jobs during his term. How many of these jobs will be going to individuals with disabilities? I have not heard any numbers, my guess is that it is not something that was ever thought of. Now, with a freeze to services, where does Tyler go for help to be job ready?
Governor Walker has worked to make this a business friendly state with tort reform and tax breaks for companies creating jobs. Where does Tyler fit into this picture? How does this help Tyler find a job?
My current part time job is helping individuals create plans within the programs being frozen, I have had much encouragement of Tyler's future. I see individuals with all types of disabilities living on their own, holding down jobs of their choosing, spending money on consumer goods and paying taxes. The people I see are happy with their lives. They have the same worries as the rest of us. They have long accepted who they are. They are not looking for pity, they are looking for equality. All of these individuals want is to be be given the same opportunities as those without disabilities.
I challange anybody, especially any elected officials, to sit down with my family, meet Tyler and tell him why he needs to wait for the opportunity to live his dreams.