Advocacy groups urge state to support services for disabled
Genesee ARC’s parent organization, NYSARC, Inc. and CP of New York State, the leaders of the two largest statewide family founded groups supporting people with disabilities, are calling on Governor Cuomo to make good on commitments by previous administrations to support people with disabilities and their families.
"There is a need for funding programs for people with intellectual disabilities in New York State," Genesee ARC Community Relations Coordinator Sandy Konfederath said. "Our ARC is one of 54 Chapters overseen by NYSARC. We serve 500 people in Genesee County with intellectual and or other developmental disabilities, along with their families. We currently have 280 employees, a majority of which are Direct Support Professionals."
NYSARC and CP of NYS urge the Governor to demonstrate his commitment to the thousands of people with developmental disabilities in New York by investing in services which are critical to the well-being of these vulnerable citizens.
"The supports and services for people with developmental disabilities have been cut by almost $400 million over the past four years," Susan Constantino, President & CEO of CP of NYS said. "These cuts have come at a time when we are seeking to find new ways to truly integrate people in communities statewide – taking money away from needed supports and services goes against the longer term goals of person-centered planning and community integration. This is why we have asked the legislature to add an additional $11.25 million into this year's budget for the development of new supports and services for more than 300 individuals with high priority needs who reside at home with their families."
The need for this funding has been exacerbated by the Governor's 2014-15 budget proposal, which eliminates year-projected investments. These proposed reductions come on the heels of cuts over the past four years and lowers the State's investment in services for people with developmental disabilities for years to come.
"Our request for additional funding is both reasonable and responsible, striking a balance between the State's priority to be fiscally prudent and our mutual obligation to serve families who are becoming more desperate," NYSARC Executive Director Marc Brandt said. "Without essential supports, both in and out of home, families and their loved ones are finding the promise of being included in society to the fullest extent possible beyond their grasp. That promise was enunciated in the Olmstead Supreme Court Decision and embraced by this Administration."
While some reports contend that New York State ranks first in Medicaid spending for people with disabilities, prior to these cuts, and when compared nationally, New York State spending on not-for-profit supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities ranks 36th among all states (2010 University of Minnesota study).
"Not-for-profits have been working hard to make ours a highly efficient system of care and the numbers show it," Brandt said. "But too many families are at or beyond the breaking point."
The need for services, such as meaningful day activities, at home support, out of home residential services, as well as other services, surpasses any funding amounts that have been suggested, particularly for those who can no longer live safely with their families.
According to The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), as of April 2013, over 12,000 people statewide were waiting for residential services and approximately 4,200 of those people stated that the need was immediate. Additionally, more than 14,000 people were waiting for a day service.
"Our request for funds would go a small way toward helping provide these acutely needed services and the demand for services will continue to grow as nearly 3,000 individuals with severe cognitive disabilities will be aging out of New York's educational system as of June 2014," Constantino said.
NYSARC, Inc. is the largest not-for-profit organization in the United States. They support people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, as well as their families.
CP of NYS is a statewide organization with affiliates across the state. They employ 18,000 individuals to support people with developmental disabilities, as well as their families.