Many fighting DHHS budget cuts

October 13, 2009 8:49:27 PM PDT
Thousands of families and social workers are fighting to stop budget cuts that could have a big impact on their everyday lives.The Ashby family, like thousands of families, say it's nearly impossible to care for their disabled son 24-7 without some help. And the family says they fear that help may be going away.

Stephen Ashby, 14, has cerebral palsy and is unable to talk.

Joe Sinsapaugh, Ashby's habilitation technician, helps him with everyday tasks and exercises to long term goals.

"Seeing him be able to do things a little bit closer to normal makes my heart sing," Stephen's mother Kim Ashby said.

But her heart song may hit a sour note as the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services cuts its budget by $1.5 billion over the next 90 days as ordered by the General Assembly.

"While providers are going to be impacted, consumers to some degree will be impacted but we are trying to make the system stronger, streamlined, better managed and better coordinated in the process," North Carolina DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler said.

"My brother is deaf and autistic and has a little case of cerebral palsy," Sinsapaugh said. "It's just so hard for us families and families that don't have children or people with disabilities have little to know understanding of what that means."

Some of Sinsapaugh's co-workers have already been let go. He says he hopes he doesn't lose his job and more importantly that Ashby and his family don't lose him.

DHHS will release more details about the exact cuts Wednesday to a legislative oversight committee.

Families like the Ashby's, along with social workers and mental health groups will be protesting outside.

They'll be calling for a special session of the legislature asking them to rethink the cuts once they can see the human impact.

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