How IRC is Addressing Disparities in Consumer Services

Amelia MaldonadoBlog

 

An Interview with IRC’s Diversity Outreach Coordinator, Lilliana Garnica

At IRC, it is so important to us that all our Consumers and families have the access to services that they need. Each year data is collected on the dollars spent on services and how they are spent. We have found trends in the data that show us clear disparities that exist in several underserved groups. I sat down with Diversity Outreach Coordinator Lilliana Garnica to learn about what these disparities are, and how IRC is working to create change.

Amelia Maldonado (AM): First off thanks for meeting with me. I’m excited to share your knowledge (and your hard work) with our readers! Let’s start with the basics. Purchase of Service Data is a term that is often used when talking about disparities. What is Purchase of Service Data? And how is it gathered?

Lilliana Garnica (LG): Purchase of Service Data is information about services paid for by IRC; services “purchased” for a Consumer.  The data tells IRC who is receiving services and who is not.  The data is broken down into various categories including age, ethnicity, diagnosis, primary language, and residence.  The data is gathered through a software system that is accessible to the Department of Developmental Services, the agency that oversees regional centers.  The collection of information for each Consumer begins during the eligibility process and is updated throughout the Consumer’s life, or until the case is closed.      

AM: Let’s talk disparities. What are the main areas of disparity? Which groups are considered most underserved when it comes to receiving services paid for by IRC?

LG: The three groups affected by a disparity in services are Consumers with Autism, those who speak Spanish as a primary language, and those of Hispanic ethnicity. Here are some percentages and raw numbers you that can help people understand what we mean when we use the term disparity.

  • Autism diagnosis: 32.8% have no services = 2,903 Consumers
    • This is a 4.5% increase in disparity from 2016.
    • These Consumers are 9.9% more likely to not have services.
  • Primary language Spanish: 26% have no services = 1,815 Consumers
    • This is a 0.55% increase in disparity from 2016.
    • These Consumers are 3.6% more likely to not have services.
  • Hispanic ethnicity: 28% have no services = 4,042 Consumers
    • This is a 1.54% increase in disparity from 2016.
    • These Consumers are 6% more likely to not have services

AM: Thank you for explaining that! You recently held two Public Input meetings to discuss IRC Purchase of Service. Can you tell us about them?

LG: A Purchase of Service Public Input meeting is a gathering of IRC Consumers, families, community partners, vendors, and employees.  These meetings provide attendees information about Purchase of Service data, the disparities that exist amongst Consumer groups, and our goals and objectives to address disparities.  The meeting allows stakeholders to provide input on how IRC can improve provision of services, what services would be beneficial for Consumers, and ideas on how IRC can close the disparity gap.  The meetings also provide a transparent and open forum of communication with the community.  We hold this meeting every year in accordance with DDS requirements.

AM: Tell us about the input that IRC families and advocates provided at the meetings? You also had online surveys, did you get similar input there?

LG: At the meeting, there was input on many topics! Here are a few trends that we saw.

People mentioned a need for more services/programs:

  • for adult Consumers
  • specifically, for Consumers who have Autism
  • that are social/recreational
  • in areas where there is a lack of (or very few) service providers
  • for school-age children with behaviors, staffed by personnel trained to manage higher needs

Training was suggested for:

  • IRC Service Coordinators on the Notice of Action (NOA) process
  • IRC Service Coordinators on the wide array of services provided by IRC
  • Service Providers on disability sensitivity

Families expressed that they would like better communication:

  • with their Service Coordinators, stating that they can be difficult to reach, and/or they do not return phone calls
  • when Service Coordinators are changed

The online surveys included similar input as the meeting; however, input from surveys weighed heavier on the need for jobs and educational options for IRC consumers and the lack of understanding of what services are available.

AM: Can you tell me about IRC’s continuing diversity efforts and the work you are doing in the community?

LG: IRCs efforts to connect with Consumers, families and the community continues.  The Autism Parent Education Program (APEP) provides parents and caregivers who have a child with Autism an empowering and educational series of Autism-related training.  The Fiesta Familiar program is getting off the ground with five upcoming trainings scheduled throughout both San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.  IRC has partnered with two Community Based Organizations (CBO) who will be delivering in-home training to Consumers and families.  The goal is to reach out and empower underserved Consumers (and their families), help assess their needs, and connect them to services and resources that fit their needs.  IRC will continue to attend outreach events in our service area to connect with Consumers, families, and the community. and provide information to the community.  Also, IRC continues to build trust within the community through its efforts and partnerships with agencies such the Autism Society of the Inland Empire and Autism Society of America-Coachella Valley (CVASA).

AM: Thank you Lilliana for the valuable information and the awesome work you are doing!

LG: You’re welcome!

Want to provide input to Inland Regional Center? Do you have a question you’d like answered? Maybe you just want to stay in the loop with all things IRC? Connect with our Community Engagement team on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Or email us at community@inlandrc.org.

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Amelia Maldonado

Amelia is IRC's Community Relations Specialist and an expert on all things IRC. You will frequently find her typing away on her laptop, creating social media/web content, agency publications, and more. Outside of work her passions include smooshy face dogs, fitness, and roller derby!

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