#AdvocacyMatters: Lighting Our Path
July 9, 2021 / #AdvocacyMatters
Just this week, we released our comprehensive 2020 Annual Report, highlighting the work you helped make possible this year. While COVID-19 created barriers in everyone’s lives, people with disabilities were among the most impacted. From fighting for community living to advocating for safe returns to work, DRO empowered Ohioans with the tools to advocate for the life they deserve. All year long, their stories lit our path.
2020’s pandemic brought employment to the front and center of Ohioans’ minds. With many people with disabilities looking for employment or needing COVID-19-specific accommodations, DRO’s staff worked diligently to fight discrimination and advocate for safe, integrated employment. Through client-directed services, systemic advocacy, and a fully realized resource center, DRO helped Ohioans with disabilities tackle employment head-on.
In the same way DRO provided Ohioans with the tools to take control of their careers, DRO also empowered individuals to transition to or remain in their communities. Thanks to the Ball vs. DeWine class-action settlement, the state began funding hundreds of new waivers that allow Ohioans in institutions to transition to community-based care. Our systemic focus intertwined with our individual advocacy as we reached out to Ohioans in facilities, educating them on their right to have meaningful choice in their care and home.
While additional waivers helped many individuals transition to the community, this wasn’t the only barrier to receiving home and community-based services (HCBS). In fact, the HCBS system is still experiencing a provider crisis, without enough workers to fulfil the needs of all Ohioans that want to live in their communities. Determined to address this need, DRO joined with over 120 partner organizations and individuals to create the Ohio Home and Community-Based Services Coalition. DRO worked alongside individual advocates, family members, providers, and partner organizations to bring the most hindering barriers to the attention of Ohio’s legislature, the media, and the public. From testimony to trainings, the Coalition continues working to make community care an option for all.
2020 proved that our lives could drastically shift over a year, but long-lasting systemic change takes time. Looking at 2021 and beyond, we know our work will continue. Our team is grateful to the be the mirror that shows how your #AdvocacyMatters.