Greetings families, people we support, natural families, COIS Staff,

Wow!! What an opening headline right!!!??? Now that I have your attention…

I guest that I should explain why the funky heading on this blog. Here goes it.

I have had on the calendar several dates to celebrate COIS’s 25 years of service that keep being postponed for various reasons.  This is a grand accomplishment worth at least a ZOOM Bash. And we will do so with the greatest of celebration at heart. However, there is a glitch and now is not the time for celebrations.   

Sadly, at a time when we could use uplifting vibes, we cannot celebrate this milestone just yet.  Not until we “put on some pants.”  I am using this metaphorically, of course. Putting on pants, to me, means not leaving ourselves as AFHA services vulnerable and exposed. The system has got to cover-up, insulate, and dress us with preparedness and responsibility when it comes to securing funding and reimbursements to family home providers who have diligently provided quality services and supports to our clients since day programs shut down in mid-March 2020. 

I commend families for not wavering in their service, commitment, and dedication to above and beyond quality services and supports, in ways we could have never anticipated. They are like rocks! They do rock!

I commend the COIS management team and confidential staff for working some not so conventional hours under circumstances that have made a difference in their personal day-to-day work lives, which undoubtedly impacts each one of their family members too.

I commend the people we support for trusting in our care and doing their part under quarantine to make the best of what we must deal with, all the while keeping positive attitudes first and foremost. It is quite admirable and impressive  I commend and thank the natural families of individuals we support for reaching out and demonstrating kindness and gratitude as well.    

I commend our consultants for working creatively to continue to support people and their family home providers adding to quality of life.  

I commend the few respite staff who have remained in place for their best practices and encouraging relationships they have maintained with the people we serve and their family home providers. 

From all of this, there are so many things to celebrate about what is still wonderfully working in tune, 25 years since California’s first inception of family home agency services.

COIS will continue to have more to celebrate. However, we first need our pants! We need the system statewide to demonstrate the value of the Adult Family Home Agency model of care throughout the state of California and pass-through allocated dollars during the pandemic, at very least.  

The AFHA model is not one of mass offering, but it does provide a significant number of services to many Californians with ID/DD. It can grow to be a phenomenal service and continue to be available as a viable residential option to many seeking personalized care and support. 

At the same time, the state must expediently acknowledge and resolve that there cannot be unfair disparities between residential services when it comes to pandemic relief. Especially during a pandemic. 

AFHAs have been overlooked statewide when it comes to formally bridging a gap (or providing a pair of pants) of rates, ratios, and realities in supplementing services when there is a shortfall of day services due to COVID. COIS clients and family home services fell into this trench 10 months ago and still no resolve for one of our catchment areas. Other residential services were provided relief, seemingly almost immediately or within a couple of months. COIS commends Tri-Counties Regional Center for working as efficiently and effectively as they could to reckon this matter with a temporary solution during this horrific period of instability. 

Let us hope that this matter is resolved soon for the sake of all served and all providing the services. Thank you all for safekeeping, your patience, your good-heartedness, and your dedication. You provide proof that the world is good. I hope to see our affiliates, clients, and families soon with an anniversary banner behind me, Kool & the Gang singing Celebration in the background while Zooming!!!!!

With all sincerity and respect,

Ingrid V Rushing – Spiva