I have just returned from Baltimore where I attended ANCOR’s Government Relations meeting. Over the course of two days we had various speakers who focused on the changes we might expect from the new administration. What impressed me was the amount of time I heard “we just don’t know”, as we all struggle to understand the possible polices that might emerge from new leadership and the alignment of leadership. From “repeal” to “repeal and replace” to “repeal, delay and replace”, we are all struggling to anticipate future policy directions.
What seemed clear to me, was that no matter what specific agendas emerge, ANCOR must remain dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities and the business environment for the providers who support these individuals. As providers, we have survived and even thrived through numerous administrations over the past three decades, despite frequent policy changes and expectations. The same advocacy that has resulted in increased community services must continue as we enter this period of uncertainty.
What is certain, is that now, more than ever, our voices must be heard at all levels of government as we deliver a clear, unified message about the need to sustain and build community services, reduce waiting lists, develop innovative supports and continue to insure meaningful outcomes for people with disabilities. As both non-profit and for-profit businesses, our impact on the economy is significant and we will continue to be a major employer into the future. For this reason, workforce issues, a living wage, health insurance and related issues continue to be at the top of our legislative agenda.
Advocacy here has never been easy, we face an increasing need to educate new legislators and insure they understand the needs of people with disabilities. It is time to involved family members, consumers, DSPs and others as we mobilize to deliver a unified message. ANCOR’s staff is working every day to anticipate and impact legislative actions that impact our work, but we need to add all our voices to this cause. Every one of us counts! Every vote matters! ANCOR needs our energy, our commitment and our follow through to insure that the services we have worked so hard to build, are not dismantled in late night votes. While we may not know what policy changes to expect, but we do know what is needed to ensure that disability services continue to broaden choices, implement innovations and ensure community inclusion for everyone. It’s going to be tough fight, but a worthwhile cause. See you at the state house, the capital steps and those legislative offices. Start drinking those energy drinks now!
Angela King is CEO of Volunteers of America Texas and ANCOR's Board President. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.