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Forum enlightens area legislators on system of support

Elected members of the Virginia General Assembly participated in a legislative forum held Tuesday hosted by the Arc of Southern Virginia and the Arc of Southside at Riverstone Technology Building in South Boston.

Del. James Edmunds II and staff members from other legislators’ offices discussed and answered a variety of questions about Virginia’s system of support for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families, including Medicaid Waivers, Transportation, Community Based Care and Waiver Wait List.

Developmental disability is a severe, chronic mental or physical impairment or combination that can include autism, traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy.

People with intellectual or developmental disabilities require individually planned life span special services, supports and assistance with daily living.

“The General Assembly has been working hard on these issues,” said Elsie Gladding, president of the Arc of Southern Virginia. “Almost 8,000 people are on a list awaiting services with mental and intellectual disabilities. For a lot of them, their parents are getting older and can’t take care of them.”

Gladding added, “It’s a pressing concern because the waiting list is growing.”

About 30 constituents from four districts who share Gladding’s concerns joined advocates, service providers and family members of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at Tuesday’s legislative forum.

Attending were representatives of the Arc of Southern Virginia that serves Charlotte, Halifax and Mecklenburg counties and neighboring communities and the Arc of Southside that serves the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County.

“The conference is to talk more about these needs of folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the people who provide for them,” she added.

According to Gladding, Virginia ranks seventh in income and 48th in providing for people with these types of disabilities.

Recent legislation has addressed switching from institutional care to community-based services, and those attending Tuesday’s forum said they want to ensure their legislators – delegates and senators – have the opportunity to dialogue with families and people who will be impacted by this legislation.

“This is a forum about that,” added Tonya Fowler, executive director of Arc of Southern Virginia.

Arc is the largest national community-based organization with more than 140,000 members and over 700 state and local chapters nationwide.

Arc of Southern Virginia works to foster full inclusion and active participation in the community for the enrichment of the lives of these individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. This is done by providing community education, information, referral and family-to-family support.

The Arc was founded in 1950 by a small group of parents and other concerned individuals.

Membership in the Arc of Southern Virginia is free of charge and open to any interested person.  

For more information, call 434-222-8931 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.