On April 14, the Special Needs Network will hold its 12 Annual Legislative Breakfast and Tools for Transformation Conference at the Junior Bling of Los Angeles, 5300 Angeles Vista Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008. This once a year forum, timed to coincide with National Autism Awareness Month, brings together local, state and national elected officials for informative, face-to-face meetings with parents and members of the disability community on issues such as health, education, housing, jobs and public safety. It also provides 12 critical workshops on health, education and advocacy strategies for parents and professionals.
At the conference, lawmakers will update parents and disability advocates on relevant pending legislation. Parents will then be able to talk directly to these lawmakers about the important issues impacting their families and communities. One hot topic targeted for discussion is the persistent disparity of resources allocated to minority families when compared to whites dealing with similar or identical problems. Since 2012, investigative reports and studies have shown that for autistic children ages 3 to 6, a critical period for treating the disorder, governmental agencies spent significantly more on services for white children compared to Black and Latino youths.
This unequal application of resources has often resulted in minority children with autism being diagnosed later than their non-minority peers; Many are denied insurance benefits, medical care and treatment, and because of these challenges they are denied their fundamental right to an education and a future.
SNN founder and president Areva Martin says issues such as disparities in state spending on kids with autism is one of the main reasons she organized the annual legislative breakfast.
“Most families we serve live at or below poverty line, work two or three jobs, have three or four children. They represent thousands of families each year that suffer from a state-funded program that consistently spend less on their children than White kids in more affluent parts of the state.”
Speakers at the Legislative Breakfast include Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
Conference attendees are invited to take part in workshops and a resource fair where they can learn about free health care services and resources for children and adults with special needs. The conference also includes an awards luncheon where two students on the autism spectrum will receive scholarships to help them continue their education beyond high school.
The Special Needs Network is a non-profit organization committed to raising public awareness of developmental disabilities and to impact public policy, while providing education and resources to families, children and adults. SNN serves as a link between under-served communities and mainstream developmental disability organizations and governmental institutions, which often fail to address issues specific to these communities.
The Legislative Breakfast and Tools for Transformation Conference is free and open to the public. For more information, go to specialneedsnetwork.org or call 323-291-7100 and register now.