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How Does California Serve Developmentally Disabled?

Education Professor Jan Blacher Part of Nationwide Study on Services for the Developmentally Disabled

Study will look at trends in public spending

(April 11, 2005)

UC Riverside Graduate School of Education (GSOE) Professor of Education Jan Blacher will take part in a nationwide study of how the individual states and the United States as a whole manage and distribute services to persons with developmental disabilities.

Blacher’s role in the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities project is to conduct an in-depth analyses of the way in which the Department of Developmental Disabilities in California allocates public funds to provide services, which include community living, public and private residential institutions, supported employment, supported living, Medicaid waivers, demographics, and related areas.

“Policy makers like to make decisions of the moment,” said Blacher, whose work on the project will include a special study of family support. “The analyses we will be conducting will open the window wide on the care and supports that the state of California has provided to persons with developmental disabilities and their families.”

Although there is no one universally accepted definition, developmental disability can be defined as a severe and chronic disability, which is attributed to a mental or physical impairment or a combination of the two. Its onset occurs sometime between birth and age 18.

The 26-year study began in 1982 and is administered by the University of Colorado and is led by project Director David Braddock, a professor of psychiatry, associate vice president of the University of Colorado System and holder of the Coleman-Turner Endowed Chair. The Project of National Significance by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funds the project.

Braddock invited Blacher to be principal investigator for the project’s California component, based on his knowledge of her previous work in the area. She will co-collaborate on the project with Keith Widaman, a professor of psychology at UC Davis.

The study will take a look at the trends in public spending on services for persons with developmental disabilities during the past five to six years. She and Widaman will also attempt to project the future of these services, especially given the difficult economic challenges faced by the state, said Blacher.

“The overall aim of my end of the project is to understand the financial and programmatic aspects of how services are provided to persons with developmental disabilities in this state,” said Blacher. “California has typically been one of the nation’s leaders in terms of sophistication and qualities of services to persons with developmental disabilities.”

At the completion of the project Braddock will publish a book containing Blacher and Widaman’s findings, along with the finding of other collaborators from around the nation.

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