State Senator Scott Wilk has request $3.2 million be included in the state’s budget to help young adults affected by developmental disabilities.
Wilk made the request to the Assembly and Senate Budget Subcommittees on Health and Human Services. The request would expand the eligibility age from 18 to 22. This would allow those suffering from traumatic or acquired brain injuries to access services at Regional Centers.
“Science tells us the brain continues to develop until a person is 22 years of age, yet California law uses age 18 to determine eligibility,” said Wilk. “We are woefully behind modern science and it breaks my heart when I think of families with children who have incurred traumatic brain injuries as young adults and are unable to access vital Regional Center services because of an antiquated date in the law. Shifting the age of eligibility will not only match the federal definition, it will ensure that young adults with these types of injuries have the very best chance of regaining some semblance of normalcy.”
The federal government changed its age of onset definition from 18 to 22, 44 years ago. Thirty eight states have since followed. If California adopted the federal definition, 400 Californians would have access to services in the first year.
California’s Regional Centers specialize in providing community-based services that enable individuals with developmental disabilities, such as traumatic brain injury or acquired brain injuries, to the reach levels of self-sufficiency.
“I feel very strongly about this issue. While policy is often shaped by economics, we have an ethical obligation to ensure there is equity in how we provide support services to our developmentally disabled citizens, and that our definitions are founded in medical fact,” said Wilk. “The amount I am requesting is less than 1/10th of 1% of the Regional Center’s $5.5 billion annual budget but that small change would rectify a decades-long inequity in the law for many young Californians with developmental disabilities.”
The Legislature determines its final budget after the Governor releases his revised budget in May. Senator Wilk’s request will be considered at that time.
Wilk recently received the Senate Champion Award from Easterseals Southern California, in recognition of his sponsorship and leadership in the effort to pass SB 283 to expand the eligibility under the age of onset.
The above information was obtained by The Signal via a news release from the office of State Senator Scott Wilk.