- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors signaled its intention Tuesday evening to restore funding to three programs for the intellectually disabled that had been threatened with budget cuts.

At an informal budget mark-up session, the board agreed by unanimous straw vote to restore $55,000 in funding for the Arc of Greater Prince William, which administers the programs, according to Arc Executive Director Karen Smith.

“All but $7,000 of the originally proposed $72,000 budget cut has been restored, and we are very, very happy,” she said.

The majority of the funding, $40,000, would be restored to Spinaweb, a boutique in Occoquan staffed by eight intellectually disabled weavers who had faced layoffs or a shortened workweek, Ms. Smith said.

The Washington Times reported the proposed cuts to Spinaweb last week.

The Vocational and Skill Advancement Center, which provides day services to the most severely intellectually disabled, would have $10,000 of its funding restored, Ms. Smith said.

A child care program to help family members attending educational workshops on caring for intellectually disabled children would have $5,000 restored.

The final vote on the budget is Tuesday.

Ms. Smith credited Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart with leading the charge to restore funding.

The board chairman and his wife visited the Spinaweb workshop twice earlier this month, and came away impressed.

“I believe we are going to restore the cuts to Spinaweb, because it’s unique and it’s proven to be an exceptionally effective program for working with the intellectually disabled,” Mr. Stewart told The Times last week.

The weavers “have some innate ability to do this work with their hands,” he said. “It’s beautifully done and it’s quite an incredible thing to see. It’s also bringing back an old skill that has really kind of disappeared.”

The proposed cuts had also brought dozens of Arc supporters, including parents of the intellectually disabled, to budget hearings early this month.

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