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Winter 2003 Table of Contents
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What's Looming Ahead? A Legislative Update

By Colleen Horton, Texas Center for Disability Studies
Reprinted with permission from Texas Parent to Parent Newsletter,
Fall, 2002 (Vol. 1, Issue 1).

It's hard to believe, but in a few short months, Texas legislators will be meeting in Austin to contemplate again the myriad of issues that come before them. Included in that massive bundle will be issues that directly affect the lives of our children with disabilities. Some of the legislation that will be proposed will be good and could help to improve the lives of our children. Other legislation could further reduce a family's ability to access services. All of the legislation that involves our children requires our attention.

Adequate funding for community services is the critical component in supporting families, yet many legislators do not consider this a priority. This isn't necessarily due to a lack of concern, but is often due to a lack of awareness. Think of our lives before we had children with disabilities. Funding Medicaid waiver services was not something that kept us awake at night…I would venture to guess that most of us never knew Medicaid waivers existed.

Legislators often don't know the reality and the urgency of the need to support families caring for children with disabilities. Most have never had any personal experience that would make them aware. It is our responsibility _ yours and mine _ to invest time and energy to make them understand our strong commitment to care for our children at home and the challenges that commitment often presents. It is our responsibility to talk to them about our lives and the lives of our children. It is up to us to make sure they understand that not supporting children in families only costs the state more when families are forced to institutionalize their children because they can't get the help they need.

Legislators will make many decisions that will affect the course of the lives of our kids. They have a lot to learn and we are the experts that must teach them. Now is the time to start gearing up to do your part to improve the way our state supports children and families. Here are some things that you can do:

When action alerts are sent out requesting that families contact legislators on an issue, the need is very real. Make a commitment that you will respond. Every letter, every phone call, every email, and every fax is counted when legislators make their decisions. If they don't hear from us, we have no right to complain about their decisions.

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Last Revision: August 25, 2003