Oregonians testify in support of Family Support and Family Networks during budget meeting

Oregon’s Joint Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services met Thursday to hear testimony on proposed budget cuts ahead of the Second Special Session planned for later this summer. During the meeting, 35 individuals offered feedback on the $180.3 million in human services cuts outlined in the state budget re-balance plan released earlier this month.

 

 

Many of those who testified asked the committee to reconsider cuts to programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Specifically, they described the impact and importance of continued funding for the Family to Family Networks and Family Support programs.

Family Support and Family Network systems serve families of children with disabilities. The networks connect parents of children and youth with various health conditions and offer families support, training, and resources.

The proposed rebalance program would cut $667,372 from the Family to Family Networks and $540,038 from the Family Support program, fully eliminating their 2nd year funding.

“We need to be clear that eliminating the second year of funding for Family Networks and Family Support will eliminate these programs, which should be avoided,” said Katie Rose, Chair of the Oregon Developmental Disabilities Coalition, during the first testimony of the meeting.

During the meeting, several individuals described how they and their children have benefited from the programs and asked the committee to remove them from the cut list.

One mother told the story of her son who experiences autism and recently began to struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder, which escalated into a crisis situation overnight. Through the Family Network, she was able to connect with another parent of a child who had significant OCD experiences and who was able to offer recommendations and support.

“If you have ever been in a world-altering situation or place in your life, what you need is someone who has been in that experience before. Someone who can reach back a hand and take yours and tell you to keep breathing and it’s going to be okay. This is when I needed the Family Network,” she testified.

Another parent whose daughter experiences an intellectual disability says the networks have helped her learn important ways to advocate for her daughter, have supported her in difficult times, and have changed her daughter’s life.

“It is isolating raising a child with significant needs. Formal supports are wonderful, but the friendship, training, and advocacy that these networks provide is what has supported me to be the advocate that I am for her today,” she testified.

“Supported parents raise stronger, more resilient children. This system of support is what I am relying on during this time of unexpected crisis due to COVID.”

At the closing of the meeting, legislators thanked those who testified and said they would consider the public’s feedback as they continue working on the budget and finalizing decisions.