On this page I keep posted sample form letters that can be used for contacting your senators and representatives to advocate for issues around FASD. Please feel free to use them as is or with your own edits. If you need assistance finding the right contacts you can check here .
Letter regarding funding for the SAMSHA FASD Center of Excellence
As a (parent/grandparent/relative/foster parent/ caregiver/ friend) of a (child, adult, family) affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), I was appalled to learn that the federal appropriation which funds the FASD Center for Excellence was cut nearly 90% when Congress and the President passed the fiscal 2014 budget bill earlier this year. The SAMHSA FASD budget that supports the FASD Center for Excellence was slashed from $9.8 million to $1 million. The mission of the Center for the last 13 years has been to reduce the number of children born with FASD, increase the functioning of individuals who have FASD, and improve the quality of life for individuals and families affected by FASD.
The majority of children and adults with FASD have significant behavioral, communication, and social impairments that preclude them from effectively participating in school or work and general social activities. FASD affects their ability to learn, remember, and perform many of the activities of daily living which neuro-typical people take for granted. The families and caregivers of people with FASD are often overwhelmed with the financial implications of having both more expenses for treatments and less time to work. They are provided little guidance, and there is a lack of “best practices” on how to help individuals with FASD become functioning members of society. Parents (and FASD affected individuals’) dreams of college, grandchildren (a spouse / children), and retirement (career) are pushed aside to focus on mastering a variety of daily concerns like impulse control, understanding the abstract concepts of money or time, and social skills. The statistics surrounding life outcomes for affected indiviudals when not supported properly are grim. About 40% of individuals affected by FASD will not finish school. Without a full education and appropriate supports, 70% will be institutionalized in their life for alcohol and drug problems, mental health reasons, or crimes committed due to their impulsivity and vulnerability. 80% will not be able keep a job increasing their risk for homelessness, depression, substance abuse, etc.
I’m asking you to take two specific steps today for a better tomorrow. First, please restore full funding to the FASD Center of Excellence. Second, please make the funding contingent on the center spending equal amounts on all three elements of their mission. Unfortunately, it is true that in practice the center has focused primarily on prevention in the past. This single minded prevention focus is understandable even if it is inadvisable. Men and women with FASD are much more likely to be involved in exposed pregnancies creating the next generation of victims. It becomes a vicious cycle and it doesn't have to be that way. With the right interventions and support most people with FASD can learn, they can be gainfully employed, they can avoid birthing the next affected generation, and they can have full and productive lives. They have so much that they can give to our society.
To achieve that goal we need the FASD Center of Excellence. We need it focused on how best to educate, house, employ, and keep healthy and safe persons with FASD and their families in addition to preventing additional affected children.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.