Since 1990 Regional Centers have not had a cost of living adjustment which would increase pay for Case Managers. The formula for raises is determined by California State Law (via the budget). In addition, case managers are mandated through the Lanterman Act, which is state law, to maintain a caseload of sixty-two to sixty-six cases per case manager.
Neither of these things have changed. However, what has changed Due to the tremendous rise in Autism (60% of all new consumers who receive developmental services have a diagnosis of full syndrome autism) the need for better quality of care has dramatically increased. Due to this huge demand, the need for more case managers is only going to rise. However, because the pay is incredibly low and the formula for increasing their pay has not adjusted to the cost of living, case managers are difficult to attract, turn over is high, and the ultimate losers in all of this are the consumers and their families. Case managers cannot disseminate quality care if their attention is divided between themselves (making ends meet) and the consumers they serve.
Many individuals who would make wonderful case managers for our consumers, often choose not to, because they cannot live on what they would make. In addition, the case load for each case manager is so great, that it often takes case managers up to one year to establish a relationship with every consumer and their family who is on their case load. What is the result Consumers and their families do not get quality care.
High turn over is rampant among Regional Centers and these reasons detailed above are some of the most common ones cited. It is not that case managers don\'t care, the problem is that they are overworked, and underpaid.
The demand for quality case managers is something which is only going to increase due to high incident rate of autism.
The solution lies in two things:
1) Case managers need to have the formula to increase their pay recalculated so that they can make a living wage.
2) Case managers need to have a substantial reduction in the size of their case loads.
One of the complaints often cited by older consumers and their families, is how agonizing it is, to have to repeatedly tell a new case manager their life story. This is exhausting for not only the consumers, but their families and the case managers as well.
When a consumer is new to the system, it is important to have a case manager who is competent and can help them navigate the regional center system.
When a consumer starts the process of special education, the case manager can be vital. They are often terrific advocates for the consumer in the school setting.
Then, when consumers enter into the transition years, consumers need a tremendous amount of support as they enter the work place and develop the life skills they need to live as independently as possible.
As a consumer ages, having a case manager who they can communicate with, (using whatever means is appropriate to that person) is crucial.
At each stage of the consumer\'s life, case managers are a vital part of the consumers life. The consumer cannot have the best quality of life, if they do not have the supports in place that will enable them to do so, and the foundation of that support system is Regional Center. (this can be especially true if the consumer does not have a family to advocate for them or their family is no longer living).
The only way to enact these changes it to:
1) Increase their pay via the California State Budget.
And to amend the Lanterman Act so that it reads:
2) Case Managers need to have a significant reduction in case load size.
We propose 25-30 cases per case manager.
Please take the time to sign our petition. Comments will be listed below and will include names unless you specify a wish to remain anonymous. We will be sending your signatures and comments to the State Legislature. Additionally, anyone who is interested in testifying may contact me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
The California Chapter of the National Autism Association
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