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Let’s Move Forward
By Mike Hyland, President and CEO
The tumultuous election is finally over and a long night of watching is behind us. What does that mean? It doesn’t simply mean an election has come and gone. It means we need to move forward with the business of our country. For places like Venture and all similar agencies, that business is making sure that people who need help can get it.
The rancor of our political differences has reached an all-time high in the United States and the great danger in that is the lack of compromise between parties. Certainly one area that we should all be able to agree upon is the need to support people through innovative and efficient programs. Those living with developmental and intellectual disabilities, autism, major mental illness, and other needs must not be left behind under a new administration and a new Congress. Over the past 40 years, this country has seen tremendous progress in the treatment and acceptance of those with disabilities. This is especially true here in Massachusetts, where a series of administrations over the years has kept promises to honor the work done by human services agencies. It’s important that this trend continue and that it be copied at the national level.
It is our responsibility to provide historically disenfranchised populations with opportunities that they have not previously experienced; and in many cases opportunities that they have been actively denied. This includes access to the community, fair housing, jobs, recreational activities, and peer groups. It also includes opportunities to grow in individual ways. In lockstep with this mandate is an equally important responsibility to support the professionals who provide services to all of these groups. This means funding that finally supports a genuine livable wage, access to affordable educational programs that enhance skills, affordable healthcare and recognition on a national level of the importance of the work being done and of the professionalism of those who do it.
The services provided by community-based agencies have ultimately replaced work that was once done in institutions and with far better results. The positive economic impact of this has been staggering! Hundreds of millions of dollars are saved annually by the provision of care through community-based agencies as opposed to facility-based care for those capable of thriving in local neighborhoods. It’s time that we re-invest in these programs so that the people getting and giving support can keep moving forward with the rest of the country.