Myles speaks at the Capitol

On Monday, February 13, the public had the opportunity to speak to key legislators about the need for more NOW/COMP waivers and higher wages for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). While the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities is advocating for 2,400 new waiver slots, the governor has recommended only 150. Our Self Advocate Board Member, Myles Henderson, took advantage of the public comment time to address The House Appropriations Human Resources Subcommittee. He was composed and articulate as he read a testimony that was moving and heartfelt.

Myles testifying at the Capitol

The following is a transcript of his testimony:

Good afternoon, committee members. My name is Myles Henderson, and I live in Chamblee, Georgia. Thank you for allowing me to talk with you today.

I am here to advocate for the Unlock 2.0 campaign, a coalition for families and people with disabilities. I am here to ask this committee to support 2,400 new NOW/COMP waivers in the FY 2024 DBHDD budget. There are 7,000 people waiting for help to be able to live their lives with dignity and contribute to the community. That’s a lot of people asking for help. 

I am also here to advocate for an increase in pay for direct support staff, the people that work every day alongside people with disabilities. Direct support staff help people with disabilities to become more independent, they care for their needs, teach new skills, and take them out into the community. It’s an important job that deserves more, a job that matters in this world. Please increase their pay to the rate in the I/DD rate study report by DBHDD.

And I’m here to advocate for the waiver.  I am currently on the waiting list.  Getting the waiver means I will have something to look forward to every day. It means I won’t feel isolated and lonely because I am not able to engage with others. But most importantly, it means that with the help of others I will be able to figure out what’s important to me to thrive, contribute to the community, and add meaning to my life which everyone deserves.

Please support 2400 new NOW/COMP waivers in the DBHDD budget for FY 2024. Please increase the pay of direct support staff. We are counting on you. Thank you.

We are so proud of Myles for representing all individuals on the waiting list for the waiver and their support staff! GiGi’s Playhouse will continue this advocacy at the next meeting on March 8. That day’s focus will be Employment First/Ending Subminimum Wage for support staff. GiGi’s and members of the DSAAtl will travel together in a coach bus to address the committee. Our adult participants have been practicing their “elevator pitch” to be able to confidently speak to legislators. We are ready to change hearts and minds at the Capitol!

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