March 20, 2011; Source: | The day program of the Terrabone Association for Retarded Citizens is at its maximum capacity of 50 intellectually and developmentally disabled adults, but because of high demand the group is trying to expand to accommodate another 10 to 12 clients. Like in many areas of the country, budget cuts are causing nonprofits to try to do more with less.

In Louisiana, in an attempt to cut costs, the state has developed a tool called the Supports Intensity Scale to evaluate disabled patients. The assessment measures a disabled person’s support needs in home living, community living, lifelong learning, employment, health and safety, social activities and other areas, according to the Daily Comet.

The new assessment has reduced TARC’s costs from $100,000 per person to $48,000 per person, saving the state $43 million a year. But since the new tool has been used, fewer families are qualifying for access to in-home services, causing families to look to day programs such as TARC to provide the activities that Medicaid-subsidized, in-home caretakers once provided.

The Houma, La. nonprofit provides adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities placements in jobs in TARC-run businesses such as a restaurant, a yard crew, and a farmers market, or if they can't hold jobs, they get training in daily living skills such as going shopping, bringing TARC recycling to parish bins, and going to the library.

Maybe the state cuts were justifiable, because the program prior to the state's decision to use the Supports Intensity Scale tool, was giving families any and all services they might apply for. But by virtue of the state cutting the services by roughly half, families will seek alternatives, and the pressure will be on organizations such as TARC to expand.

We’d love to hear from our readers in Louisiana and in this field of work about this development. —Rick Cohen