Advocates for disabled want more services

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ATLANTA --- Heather Murray has been in state institutions for mentally disabled Georgians before. It's why she wants to make sure her 6-year-old son, Timothy, doesn't end up in one.

"When you're there, you get the feeling that they're only being maintained, that they're only taking care of their physical needs," said Ms. Murray, a Medical College of Georgia employee who lives in Grovetown.

But caring for Timothy, who has cerebral palsy and other disabilities, also requires sacrifices by his family.

Ms. Murray and parents like her were at the state Capitol this week, asking lawmakers to put more funding into programs designed to keep people with mental and physical disabilities out of state institutions and nursing homes and in their communities instead.

The programs provide for needs and services such as child care, job coaches and even help getting to work for adults.

Gov. Sonny Perdue added 500 waivers for the largest program, the developmental disability waiver program, which advocates estimate will help about 400 people.

The problem is there are already nearly 5,800 waiting for services, said David Blanchard of the Unlock the Waiting Lists campaign, and about 1,100 more waivers are requested each year.

His group is asking lawmakers to boost the number of slots in the developmental-disability program by 2,500 instead of by Mr. Perdue's 500.

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (678) 977-3709 or brandon.larrabee@morris.com.


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