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A lot of discussion and legislation about the disability community happens at the New Mexico State Legislature. That includes the work of the Disabilities Concerns Subcommittee of the legislature. In addition, organizations and members of the public can learn about upcoming issues before they become bills or laws. As one of the larger disability service nonprofits in New Mexico, Adelante attends meetings when we can, including a recent virtual meeting on September 17, 2020.

Legislative Agenda

The committee covered a wide variety of topics. First, the agenda included services being provided during the pandemic. Later, the challenges students with disabilities face with online learning was covered. NMDOH also provided updates.

The topic of most interest to Adelante and of our families would likely be the update on providers. Some disability organizations have received less than positive feedback from families or through the media during the pandemic. However, there is more to those stories. Many of the stories involved programs closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. NM Department of Health made these changes. Adelante followed these directives closely to ensure we were complying. Of course, that is a legal obligation. However, we also knew that everyone had the goal of keeping people safe.

Unlike other states in the U.S., we have had relatively few cases in the disability programs in New Mexico. That’s important because people with disabilities have more complex cases of COVID-19, worse outcomes, and more deaths than the wider population.

Testimony

One of our board members, Ryan Baca, shared her insights from a family perspective. She has a relative in our Community Living homes and was thankful for the creativity and caring Adelante staff have shown during the pandemic. She has a long history with disability advocacy as does her family. Her maiden name is Jackson, a name the disability community knows well. Her family members were behind the Jackson lawsuit that brought sweeping changes to disability care in New Mexico. Download her full remarks below.

“The safety and wellness of our loved ones, as well as those who provide that direct support every day, should be a guiding principle. I am deeply grateful to Adelante staff for their hard work and personal sacrifices that they’ve made to keep my uncle safe and abiding by COVID-safe practices.

Ryan baca, family member of adelante client and adelante board member

A few providers also spoke at the Disability Concerns committee meeting, including Ed Kaul of ARCA. Download his remarks below.

“Since March 11, COVID-19 has changed how we provide services. In the midst of an international pandemic, providers have been extremely successful in safeguarding the health, safety and happiness of children and adults with IDD, families, staff and our community at large.”

ed kaul, president & CEO of ARCA

Get involved with advocacy work: Send an email to: info@GoAdelante.org. If you’d like to keep up with the Disabilities Concerns Subcommittee work, you can find the members, upcoming meetings and more at: https://nmlegis.gov/Committee/Interim_Committee?CommitteeCode=DISC