Courtesy of Tim Nunnery

Lawrence County residents attend Easterseals in Burlington, Ohio, an adult day program that offers activities and services to people with developmental disabilities.

Lawrence County Developmental Disabilities will be going on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election in order to maintain and expand services available to people with developmental disabilities in the county.

Lawrence County DD (LCDD) provides services to some 500 children and adults in the county living with developmental disabilities, offering an array of services for different age groups from birth throughout life.

The early intervention program serves infants and toddlers diagnosed with a disability or delay, providing an evidence-based practice in the home which the parents become involved with the child’s development during a crucial age for progress. Open Door School in Coal Grove provides eight special education classrooms for students from all Lawrence County school districts in a specialized setting, including vocational programs targeting daily living skills and activities for preparation of community involvement and independence.

The Service and Support Administration coordinates services, such as transportation and adult day services, for adults with developmental disabilities in the county, along with ensuring health and safety for individuals.

LCDD last ran a levy in 2006 to replace two levies, though the agency has not asked for new money since 1991. In that time, the cost of services has increased along with inflation of general operations. Due to these increases, LCDD is projected to reach a financial shortfall of nearly $900,000 by the end of 2020. The agency began relying upon carryover funds in 2016 to meet annual expenses.

Local funding is the largest source of revenue for the agency, accounting for nearly 38% of its total budget, according to LCDD’s 2018 annual report.

The levy is expected to allow LCDD to not only continue services as is, but also expand services that are now the norm for the current system under the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, including transition services for adolescents and more provider and community-based services in the county.

Julie Monroe, superintendent for LCDD, says the agency must provide a waiver match, paying approximately 40% of the cost for these services while the rest comes from federal funding through Medicaid. Currently, there is a waiting list for people to receive services from LCDD, as the agency cannot afford the cost at the moment to offer more.

“When you see someone with a developmental disability receiving help from a provider in the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, their church, or in their homes to cook and care for themselves, LCDD is helping to fund those services, and we are mandated by the State of Ohio to do so,” said Monroe.

Monroe says that the more services that are available to people, the more potential there is for job creation in the county, as more independent and agency providers will be needed to offer their services. Additional services will also help to stimulate the local economy, as federal funds would be brought in to Lawrence County by offering more opportunities to people with developmental disabilities.

LCDD currently operates off of a continuing levy of 2.5 mills. By comparison to other counties’ boards of developmental disabilities, LCDD ranks 83rd out of 88 counties for the amount of local tax funding, despite ranking as the 42nd largest county for people served.

LCDD is asking for a 2.5 mill levy for a term of 10 years. For more information about Lawrence County DD, visit www.lawrencedd.org.

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