Are McCrory and Wos intentionally targeting disabled children for cuts?

Via e-mail from a concerned reader:

Not only has the Gov made DENR positions exempt employees but he has now made all CDSA (Children's Developmental Services Agency) Directors exempt employees as well. That's in addition to a cut of 160 positions out of approximately 800 employees. This is all in an agency that provides services to children under age 3 with disabilities.

As far as I can see, this is the first reference to specific targets out of the reported 389 NC DHHS employees. DHHS is being rather closed-lip about this, and I can understand why. So while we're waiting for the mainstream media's FOIAs to crawl their way through the system, why don't we take a look at what DAG McCrory appears to be lining up in his budget-cut crosshairs:

The North Carolina Early Intervention Branch (NCEI) is a part of the N.C. Division of Public Health. It is the lead agency for the N.C. Infant-Toddler Program (ITP). The Infant-Toddler Program provides supports and services for families and their children, birth to three who have special needs. Research shows that this time period is critical. It offers a window of opportunity to make a positive difference in how a child develops and learns. Sixteen Children's Developmental Services Agencies (CDSAs) across North Carolina work with local service providers to help families help their children succeed.

Children aged zero to three with certain levels of developmental delay or established conditions, and their families, are eligible for the ITP. No family is denied services because of the inability to pay.

we offer

Service Coordination
Physical, occupational and speech-language therapies
Family support
Special instruction
Assistive technology
Other services

Services are provided within the child’s natural environment as a part of the everyday routines and activities in which families participate and in places where families would typically be. Natural environments are settings that are natural or normal for the child’s age peers who have no disabilities. When services take place children can be at home with their families or at places within the community like the park, playground or daycare with other care providers.

There's only a few possible reasons these CDSA positions would be converted to at-will, and they're not good reasons. The first reason would be to better control which private-sector care providers would be tapped to perform these obviously expensive in-home or otherwise labor-intensive care tasks, or the second reason being to limit the fallout when said funding is seriously decreased or shut off entirely. I'm betting on that second thing, because the most vulnerable seem to be suffering the most under the NC GOP's control.

As far as transparency within the Department, here's an e-mail that was also provided by our anonymous whistle-blower:

Dear Fellow State Employees,

As you may be aware, HB 834, Modern State Human Resources Management, was signed into law by Governor McCrory yesterday. The Governor and I are confident that this legislation will enable us to provide you with a modern system of human resources that treats employees fairly and consistently, creates an environment where employees can be successful, and balances the needs of employees with the business needs of the state.

While we are still ironing out the details and finalizing new processes, I wanted to let you know about a few of the changes that may affect you.
· Probationary Process/Career Status – Going forward, an employee achieves Career Status when they have been continuously employed in a permanent position for 24 months. An employee is considered a “probationary state employee” and is exempt from the provisions of the State Personnel Act until they achieve career status.
· Grievance Process – Streamlines and shortens the grievance process. Emphasizes resolving grievances on the front end, standardizes mediation across state agencies and establishes timelines for the agencies, departments and the Office of Administrative Hearings to render decisions.
· Performance Management – Re-establishes the Performance Management process to provide a tool for employees and managers to communicate, plan and evaluate work.
· Twelve Holidays – Standardizes the number of holidays to 12 each year, rather than providing only 11 holidays some years. Three paid holidays will be given at Christmas.
· Exempt Positions – Increases the number of Exempt Policymaking and Exempt Managerial to 1,500. This allows the alignment of goals from the Governor to the agencies.
· Name Change – changes the name of the Office of State Personnel (OSP) to the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR). This recognizes the key role that human resources plays in working to make employees successful in delivering services to the citizens of North Carolina.
· Other Administrative Changes – Other administrative changes include minimizing the number of legislative reports, changes to EEO training and changes to the State Human Resources Commission.

"Alignment of goals." Such a nice way of saying, "Even if you do what you're told and keep yer yap shut, we may just fire you anyway for shits and giggles, or if somebody's ne'er-do-well nephew needs a job, or if you're a lady and you wear pants to work too many times, or if there's more than one picture of a cat in your cubicle, or if you roll your eyes when you think I'm talking too much..."

Sorry. Humor is my way of trying to keep my head from exploding when something pisses me off.


Advice to CDSA employees

Any employees in CDSA and DEHR need to start keeping a diary and copies of important correspondence - partially because of their "at will" employment status, but also because they could get dragged into court actions.

If the state is gutting a department that provides services to children with disabilities, isn't there a possibility that the state could be brought to court by the Feds for violating ADA laws?

Possibly, but I doubt it

If that were the case, I would think this article would have mentioned it:

Unfortunately, legislators are considering eliminating fundamental pieces of infrastructure that support the healthy development of our young children.

Here’s what’s at stake:

• Services for young children with disabilities: The state’s Early Intervention program provides services such as developmental therapy and speech therapy to children up to age 3 with developmental delays or disabilities. These services are administered at one of the 16 Children’s Developmental Service Agencies across the state. The most recent version of the state budget would close four Children’s Developmental Service Agencies and cut $10 million in annual funding for Early Intervention services. As a result, young children with special needs will lose services that they need to learn and succeed.

Of course, the author(s) may not have connected the two, but it appears these are state dollars not mandated by the ADA.

Early intervention pgms

I caught a reference on one website that mentions:

PL 99-457 Amendments to the Education of the Handicapped Acts, 1986 (Reagan)
Extended the rights and protections provided by PL 94-142 to children ages 3 through 5. (Part B).
Early intervention services for children age birth to two years (Part H) (federal monies provided -- discretionary program).

So is this a case where the state is turning down Federal funds or just cutting out state funding to the program? I tried digging a little more on this section of the law specifically but got lost in a morass of journal articles and such.