You may be wondering why a LAGERS blog would focus on Developmental Disability Awareness. As all of us at LAGERS know, our members are exceptional people. They are "Salt of the Earth" people, people who make our communities flourish and shine. And among our member employers are "Senate Bill 40" agencies. Senate Bill 40 employers, named after the Senate Bill that established them, provide for the employment, residential, and related service needs for people with developmental disabilities in Missouri. LAGERS members who are employed by SB 40 employers are made up of social workers, case workers, administrators and others whose primary focus is to assist people with developmental disabilities in meeting their needs so they can gain more independence and inclusion within their communities. Not only are our Senate Bill 40 employees special to us and our communities, but so are the people they serve within our communities.
The term "developmental disability" not only includes intellectual disabilities, but also other disabilities such as autism and fetal alcohol syndrome. They are "severe chronic disabilities that can be cognitive or physical or both and will last indefinitely" (National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors). The effects of such disabilities vary widely. While as children, mental and physical tasks such as speaking, walking, learning in school, and simply taking care of personal needs may take longer to develop, but as adults some can live a very independent life free of additional supports. Others may need many supports into adulthood, while a smaller percentage have significant, lifelong limitations.
Regardless of the variance, every person with a developmental disability can lead a satisfying life and contribute to the strength of their communities in which they live.
Around one in six children ages 3 - 17 years has one or more developmental disabilities, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This means there are at least 4.7 million people who have some kind of developmental disability. This population seems to be growing, as it has increased 17% within the past decade. This population is living longer, which is a fantastic; however, the number of adults with intellectual or development disability is projected to almost double by the year 2030. Unfortunately, the number of service providers is not projected to grow as quickly. The NACBHDD states that there is a need to "create additional community capacity, increase use of smart technology and work toward achieving full healthcare integration."
Throughout the month of March, please reflect on what you can do to help those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities AND those who are on the front-line, keeping up with the demands of this increasing population, our Senate Bill 40 employees. Our members and those they serve are truly exceptional, and we are extremely proud to have the strong and caring men and women of Senate Bill 40 Boards throughout Missouri as part of the LAGERS family.