Wilk requests state budget funding to expand eligibility for developmentally disabled individuals

$3.2 million would bring California into line with federal definition

Sacramento - Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, took his fight to help California’s young adults impacted by various developmental disabilities to the Assembly and Senate Budget Subcommittees on Health and Human Services. Wilk requested $3.2 million dollars be included in the State Budget to expand eligibility from age 18, which is current law, up to an individual’s 22nd birthday. This change would allow young adults, who have not yet turned 22 years old, suffering from traumatic or acquired brain injuries to access services at Regional Centers.

“Science tells us the brain continues to develop until a person is 22 years of age, yet California law uses age 18 to determine eligibility,” said Wilk. “We are woefully behind modern science and it breaks my heart when I think of families with children who have incurred traumatic brain injuries as young adults and are unable to access vital Regional Center services because of an antiquated date in the law. Shifting the age of eligibility will not only match the federal definition, it will ensure that young adults with these types of injuries have the very best chance of regaining some semblance of normalcy.”

The federal government changed its age of onset definition from 18 to 22 a full 40 years ago to match modern science. Thirty eight states soon followed suit. If California were to follow the federal government’s definition, recent data shows approximately 400 Californians would become eligible for services the first year at a cost to the state of $3.2 million.

California's Regional Centers specialize in providing community-based services that enable individuals with developmental disabilities, such as traumatic brain injury, or acquired brain injury, to achieve their full potential and highest level of self-sufficiency.

 “I feel very strongly about this issue. While policy is often shaped by economics, we have an ethical obligation to ensure there is equity in how we provide support services to our developmentally disabled citizens, and that our definitions are founded in medical fact,” said Wilk. “The amount I am requesting is less than 1/10th of 1% of the Regional Center’s $5.5 billion annual budget but that small change would rectify a decades-long inequity in the law for many young Californians with developmental disabilities.”

The Legislature determines its final budget after the Governor releases his revised budget in May.  Senator Wilk’s request will be considered at that time.