Thousands wait for service
By SUSAN THACKER
Thousands of Kansans have development disabilities and can receive case management, which advises them or their loved ones of options and available services and benefits. But while case management is guaranteed to anyone who qualifies, other services are not. That’s why some 4,500 children and adults in Kansas are on waiting lists for services, according to Ladeska "Decky" Makings, chief operations officer and director of adult services at Sunflower Diversified Services in Great Bend.
Many services depend on state funding.
The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Right Act defines a developmental disability is a severe, chronic disability attributable to a mental or physical impairment manifested before the person attains age 22, and which is likely to continue indefinitely. It must also result in substantial limitation in three or more of the following areas: Self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility self-direction, capacity for independent living and economic self-sufficiency. A person with this type of disability needs individually planned and coordinated care, treatment or other services for an extended period which is usually lifelong.
Sunflower Diversified Services is a non-profit services provider to developmentally disabled adults and children in Barton, Pawnee, Stafford, Rice and Rush counties. Sunflower and similar agencies provide a variety of services that can help people with disabilities live more independently, Makings said.
Residential services are whatever level of support an adult needs to live in their own home or the most independent setting possible. It may be something as simple as finding someone to assist the person for a few hours a week with budgeting or shopping. Other adults are able to live in their own home, but only with the help of 24-hour staff.
Makings said young people coming out of high school and older adults who live with their elderly parents are among those who could live independently with the right service, but instead find themselves on waiting lists in many cases.
"Another kind of residential support is supportive home care, provided in the home for kids or adults," she said. In these cases, staff go to the caregivers’ homes and assist the clients in leaning to take care of selves. They may also help family learn to deal with disabilities.
Employment support is another type of service. Some people find employment with their service provider; others may qualify for a job coach or vocational rehabilitation services.
While another group has teams walking the length of the state, Sunflower Diversified Services is joining a group effort that could circumnavigate the globe. The public is invited to help people with developmental disabilities by joining "Walk a Mile in My Shoes."
Advocacy coordinator Mary Lou Warren said the statewide effort is bringing awareness for the more than 4,500 adults and children with developmental disabilities who are on the waiting for services. "Help us reach the goal of walking around the world this year — 24,902."
To participate, pick up a packet at one of the Sunflower Diversified Services offices, at 8823 4th or 1521 K-96. Log the miles you walk, run or roll and report them by April 26.
The public can also attend a group walk from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, at Veterans Memorial Park.
This is not a fundraiser, Warren said. Last year Sunflower joined Interhab, the statewide advocacy group for people with developmental disabilities, in another walking event.
"Last year we did a relay," she said. Since the goal was to raise awareness for the 4,500 Kansas residents with developmental disabilities on waiting lists for services, the first year’s goal was to log 4,500 miles. They surpassed that, with 16,000 miles. So, sponsors decided to go global with their 2011 goal.
There are prizes such a bracelets and sports bottles for those who submit miles and attend the April 10 walking event. Everyone who hands in a log sheet will have a chance to win more prizes.
For more information Warren at Sunflower, 792-1321.