On Tuesday, August 22nd, Ken, Sue, and Steven Utterback visited the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond to present the following letter to Governor Youngkin on behalf of the intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) community. A big thanks to Governor Youngkin for taking the time to hear their story and to Tonya Milling of The Arc of Virginia for organizing this valuable advocacy opportunity.
We want to thank you, Governor Youngkin, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen to our request for increased funding benefits for your Special Needs constituents, mainly the funding for all Special Needs individuals on the DD Waiver List.
Our son Steven has been on the DD waiver list for over 20 years. Not having a DD Waiver came to a harsh reality recently for our family when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have surgery last Wednesday to remove my cancer. Fortunately, I felt well enough after my surgery to make this trip to speak with you today. My first thought when I received my diagnosis was not about me, but what will happen to our Special Needs son, Steven? What will happen to him if our family cannot take care of him? My husband and I are both in our late 60’s, and will not be around forever to take care of Steven, who currently lives with us in Rockingham County. He has always lived with us his entire life. The DD Waivers are imperative for the continuing financial support of all Special Needs Families, especially for when the family circle is not there or capable of continuing to be there for these individuals. That is why, even though I am still recovering from my surgery, I felt a strong maternal drive to come advocate for the increasing of benefits, not only for our own son, but for all Special Needs citizens and their families in our state.
We can only ask how our state can boast about a $3.2 billion cash surplus and projected $4.3 billion total reserve by 2024, when Virginia is rated one of the worst states in this country for funding benefits for their Special Needs population?
So, in ending, we are asking that you seriously look at the numbers when considering your budget recommendations, to financing all DD Waivers needed to allow the Special Needs constituents in Virginia to Live a Life Like Yours.
Thank you very much for your time,
Steven, Ken, and Sue Utterback
If you have a disability or know someone who does and would like to share your story in order to create policy change at the state level, contact Jenna at Marketing@hrarc.org or (540) 407-9862.