Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Protect Services for People With Developmental Disabilities

The Governor’s budget proposals will greatly damage critical services for people with developmental disabilities:

No trend (cost of living increase) for OMRDD services. For the first time in 15 years, there is no trend for OMRDD services! The trend provides a salary increase for the hardworking and underpaid direct support staff who keep our children safe and help them gain new skills. The trend is critical in helping to stem the turnover of our valued direct support staff! It’s downright heartless to deprive direct support staff in voluntary agencies of a trend, while staff who do exactly the same work for the state will get a trend as part of their contract!

Cuts to day habilitation services. Day habilitation services provide education and life skills experiences to 10,000 adults every day, through small-group community activities. The Governor is proposing a huge cut to these services, amounting to a total annual loss of $28 million—a huge 4%! In addition, he is asking for a regional flat fee for all day habilitation programs, so that, for example, a program serving people with complex medical needs who require intensive staffing would receive the same fee as a program serving people who require a much lower staffing ratio. Day habilitation programs cannot absorb these two cuts without (a) rejecting individuals with more severe disabilities; (b) cutting staff, thereby endangering individuals’ safety; or (c) shortening program hours, thus jeopardizing the jobs of the many parents who will have to stay home to care for their children!

Moratorium on residential development. Residential projects currently in progress have been delayed, cancelled, or put on indefinite hold because the proposed budget provides only minimal funding for residential development. The Governor’s budget breaks New York State’s commitment, guaranteed in law, to provide residential services for families who are too old or infirm to continue caring for their adult disabled children at home. Parents are frightened about their children’s future!

Federal stimulus money should be used to preserve essential services for people with developmental disabilities:

The federal stimulus bill will send billions of dollars in federal money to New York State, including $11 billion for Medicaid funding for human services. This money can help to restore the cuts and provide vital increases. But only if we speak up! We face tremendous competition from other groups for the available federal funds. We must make our voices heard!
Call or e-mail the Governor and key legislators today. Visit your own local legislators in their home offices. Keep calling and writing. E-mail and calls should be continuous. Get family and friends to call, too. Volume is critical.

Use the following message, use the website below, or use your own message:

We urge you to use federal stimulus money to support services for people with developmental disabilities:

Don’t penalize our dedicated and underpaid direct support staff. Restore the trend for OMRDD services!
Don’t devastate day habilitation services for adults with developmental disabilities. Restore the 4% cut and reject the regional fees for day habilitation services!
Uphold New York’s commitment to families unable to continue caring for their adult children at home. Provide sufficient resources for residential development for families in need!

Contact 5 State Legislators:

You can easily contact all 5 at this website: Go to www.nysacra.org , click on Resources, click on Action Center, scroll down to Action Alert – Protect Services for People with Developmental Disabilities, click on Take Action, and follow the simple instructions.

To call or send your own e-mail:

Governor David Paterson: 518-474-8390 or

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: 518-455-3791 or 212-312-1420 or Speaker@assembly.state.ny.us

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith: 518-455-2701 or 718-528-4290 or Masmith@senate.state.ny.us

To find your own state Assemblymember: 518-455-4100 or www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem

To find your own state Senator: 518-455-2800 or www.senate.state.ny.us; click on Senators

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