You may be wondering why I’m featuring music therapy in Arizona today, when I live clear across the country in Illinois. Well here’s the thing: one of the main reasons I write this blog is because my readers (YOU!) continue to provide such positive feedback and support. It is the very least I can do to give that back to you, and that’s what today’s Friday Fave is all about.
One reader in particular is a music therapist like me, originally from Illinois, who is currently doing all that she can to advocate for music therapy in her state of Arizona. Like many other states, Alison and her colleagues are faced with incredible budget cuts that would deprive them of a sustainable income. Alison explained the situation in an email to me, and this is what she had to say:
Arizona has fallen on hard times as most states have but they are constantly targetting music therapy. In February of last year the state tried to give music therapists a pay cut of 55% which is not a sustainable income. Sadly we would all make more money giving piano lessons at that rate. Other therapies were given a ten percent cut and as I recall AMTA sued the state for discriminatory cuts and managed to get us an equal 10 percent cut. On Monday Arizona state legislators are voting on more budget cuts which would cut music therapy down 50% again if passed according to DDD’s proposed budget cuts plan. We are having a push here to educate all of our legislators as well as workers at the Department of Developmental Disabilities. We have been fighting an uphill battle in Arizona for almost a year now but seeing results in our clients is well worth it.
Alison wrote back a few days later with this unfortunate news:
We found out Friday night that the cuts passed and music therapy has been cut by 50% and other therapies 10%. It is very sad. I have many higher functioning clients with autism who become upset and cry when I tell them I am going out of town next week but will see them in two weeks. I can’t imagine how they will feel when I tell them that this will be the last time they will see me.
We were asked last week to collect some data from our clients; how many clients were funded by the state, how many had speech/communication goals, how many received speech therapy, and how many received no other therapies. My clients have been the most grateful and appreciative of any I have had the pleasure of working with. Some were on waiting lists for music therapy up to 7 years and finally started receiving it once I moved here. I have 35 clients that I see in home on a 1:1 basis and of those 20 have a speech related goal, 21 do not receive speech therapy, and 15 do not receive any other therapies. It’s so unfair to the kids. Many of the therapists are going to try to do private pay but I know that isn’t a viable option for most of my families. I just hate to see these kids left without any services. My youngest clients are the ones who do receive Speech and OT but I know they will be dropped once they require after school hours as most of my after school hour kids do not receive these therapies.
We are fighting right now for recognition as a therapy and not just as habilitation with a music component (which is what the state of AZ has us listed as). So any letters from music therapists across the country could help us with this.
This is such an awful situation not only for music therapists, but also for the clients who will most likely have their services terminated due to these budget cuts. Alison is not the first person I’ve talked to who is effected by the cuts, and sadly, she won’t be the last. As she wrote above, you can help by writing a letter in support of music therapy recognition in her state, no matter where you live. You can even use the letter she wrote as a template:
The music therapy community is small in comparison with other fields, which is why it is so important to support one another. You, as a reader, support music therapy just by visiting Listen & Learn Music, and for that I thank you!