The end of the calendar year is three months after the end of our fiscal year, which means, as a hopeless procrastinator, I am up to my eyeballs in end of year program reports. Every year between Christmas and New Year’s, I spend time in a mostly empty office reviewing statistics and stories of the hard work done by our advocates during the previous year. This year is no exception. I have been reminded of many triumphs large and small, and been humbled with appreciation of the many dedicated actions that are taken to advocate for our clients. It is clear from the case notes that our staff treat clients as people first and foremost, going above and beyond to instill their work with the human touch. Thanks to their daily efforts, we have made life better for many Mississippians with disabilities. Our reports may not win prizes, but I will do my best to paint the human stories behind the numbers for anyone who reads them. Stay tuned for some such stories in future blog entries….
We had a welcome surprise on December 22nd, when we learned that the US Department of Justice had issued a findings letter to the State of Mississippi, concluding that major changes are required in its service systems for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. DRMS looks forward to working with federal and state authorities to ensure that changes are prompt, appropriate, and comprehensive. We are excited about the opportunity to help transform this state’s system of service delivery. For a copy of the letter, go to www.ada.gov/olmstead/documents/miss_findings_letter.doc It will also be posted on our website shortly.
Other exciting projects which will continue into the new year are the launching of Medicaid’s Bridge 2 Independence program, which will provide extra Medicaid services for one full year to people transitioning from facilities to the community, and the Mississippi Partnerships for Employment Project (MSPE), which will improve competitive employment outcomes for youth and young adults with development disabilities, including intellectual disabilities. Mississippi was one of only six states that received funding for the MSPE project. DRMS is a managing partner of the project along with our DD network partners the Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Institute for Disability Studies.
DRMS plans to stay involved and engaged, working collaboratively whenever possible and assertively when required to advance and protect the human and legal rights of individuals with disabilities in Mississippi. We have met and worked with many fine people throughout the state in the past year, and look forward to continued efforts to insure their integration into home, work, community, employment and education.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!