The Arc of Whatcom County

The Arc of Whatcom County

Parent Coalition E-alert

June 2011

In This Issue

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Know Your Legislators



Sen. Maria Cantwell



Sen. Patty Murray


2nd District

Rep. Rick Larsen


42nd District


Sen. Doug Ericksen



Rep. Vincent Buys



Rep. Jason Overstreet



40th District


Sen. Kevin Ranker



Rep. Kristine Lytton



Rep. Jeff Morris


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There have been significant court rulings this past month and also new legislation passed in Washington State. Please read below and understand the impact on you and/or your family.


If you need information or assistance, please contact Monica, Co-Coordinator of The Parent Coalition: (360)715-0170 x303,   


KING 5 NEWS, SEATTLE - The Washington State Supreme Court has ordered a reversal of some of the deep budget cuts made by the Department of Social and Health Services. The cuts targeted a program that helped vulnerable children. Benefits to as many as 3,000 kids could be affected.

This week, the court ruled that DSHS made broad assumptions based on children's age and living conditions instead of examining the need in each individual case. The court also affirmed lower a court finding that DSHS made similar unfair cuts to about 1,000 seniors who also received in-home care. 


DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus said she won't know the next step until her agency has had a chance to review the court ruling.  



On June 7, 2011, King County Superior Court Judge Susan Craighead concluded: "[U]nder the Mental Health Parity Act [the Health Care Authority and the Public Employees Benefits Board] are required to cover medically necessary Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)therapy, as determined on an individualized basis, when provided by licensed providers."

This is the first ruling on Washington State's landmark Mental Health Parity Act, since it was enacted in 2005. The Parity Act took full effect on July 1, 2010. As of that date, insurers cannot impose treatment limitations on mental health services, if they do not impose comparable limitations on treatment for medical and surgical care.

"This decision is a life-saver for many families who have a child with autism," said Arzu Forough, a parent of two of the plaintiffs, and a representative of Autism Speaks, a national advocacy group for people with autism. "We urge the Health Care Authority to implement Judge Craighead's decision immediately so that all children of public employees who have autism can get access to this essential therapy."


For more information, visit:


When the Washington State 2011 legislative session ended with no budget agreement, the Governor was forced to call a 30 day special session. The last day of the special session ended on May 24th - to the relief of many and also to the dismay of many. There were cuts to many services for individuals with developmental disabilities; but fortunately the cuts were not as drastic as initially anticipated.


For the complete 2011 legislative session overview,



To see the various budget side-by-sides, visit:

What bills made it through the 2011 Legislative Session?
 SB 5459 consolidates the Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC).

 SB 5352 replaces the elimination of vision/glasses by allowing people on Medicaid to get them at cost.
 HB 1163 made another small step forward on preventing bullying in schools.
 HB 1053 provides for free training for family members who become legal guardians of an individual.
 HB 1718 continues work on the issue of adults with developmental disabilities in the jails/corrections system by creating a diversion court for treatment rather than jail for people with developmental disabilities, similar to what exists now for mental health.
 SB 5097 passed the legislature in an attempt to create a work group to look at juveniles with developmental disabilities in corrections facilities, as has now been done for adults, but the Governor vetoed the legislation. Advocates are still trying to find some way to begin looking at this important issue.



Healthcare is changing in Whatcom County and across America. Come help guide our community's new direction!


Friday, June 24, 2011

12:00pm - 6:00pm (Can't stay the whole day? Drop-ins welcome.) 

Christ the King Community Church
4173 Meridian Street, Bellingham, WA 


RSVP to: 

Free parking, coffee and nibbles. ESL/ASL service provided.


Forum co-sponsored by:
Whatcom Alliance for Healthcare Access
Qualis Health
Whatcom County Health Department
Health Ministries Network
Northwest Regional Council
PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center


Learn more: 



Your voice is needed! 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) protects the rights of parents and students with disabilities in school. There is currently a study on the experiences of students with disabilities and their parents throughout the special education process -- from IEPs to Due Process hearings. The survey deadline is June 30, 2011. Please visit for more information.  

Parent Coalition




The Parent Coalition of The Arc of Whatcom County provides information and education to individuals with developmental disabilities, their caregivers, families and the community by responding to requests for assistance. We provide 1:1 support and serve as a resource to increase understanding of the developmental disability service system and special education system.

For information and assistance, contact Monica, Parent Coalition Co-Coordinator at (360)715-0170, x303,


This E-Alert is made possible by funding from the Whatcom County Division of Developmental Disabilities program.


2602 McLeod Road

Bellingham, WA 98225


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