August 11, 2023 / #AdvocacyMatters
Fierce Advocacy: Our teams empower our constituents to make their own decisions, and to be vocal and determined in their efforts, even when systemic forces create barriers.
This concept of fierce advocacy is the core of our work. The definition above is straight from our organization’s values… the ideals at the center of who we are and what we do. Being fierce advocates - whether in working with an individual client or working on policy initiatives that impact every disabled Ohioan – can be challenging, frustrating, and ultimately rewarding.
Unfortunately, this fierce advocacy can also make us a target. Amendments that were added to the recently-passed Ohio budget bill – legislation that details the state’s funding priorities for the next two years – are attempting to influence our work and threaten our independence. One such amendment directs us to create a policy supportive of intermediate care facilities… a position in direct opposition to our fierce advocacy for expanded access to home and community-based services.
"We're concerned about the type of state interference with an organization that's supposed to be an independent advocate for disabled individuals," Executive Director Kerstin Sjoberg recently told the Canton Repository. "We think the state should focus on working collaboratively with us to remove the barriers and expand access. This conflicts with what disabled Ohioans, who direct our work, want and with the purpose of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 1975.”
While this interference happens in the shadows, our work… our fierce advocacy… happens in the daylight. Just as we’ve been for more than a decade, DRO remains the designated Protection & Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program for all disabled Ohioans. The resolve and focus of our team will continue pushing, fighting, and advocating for our ultimate vision: A truly equitable Ohio for people with disabilities. #AdvocacyMatters