Thousands Join New York Disability Rally To Urge State Leaders For Care Not Cuts

March 24, 2021

Non-profit providers of supports to New Yorkers with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) were joined today by over 1,000 advocates.

The advocates included State Legislators and family advocates across the state for a virtual rally to urge State leaders for care, not cuts to the system that serves our most vulnerable residents.

The sector provides critical care, thousands of jobs to individuals, and has long been an economic engine across the State.

With the New York State Senate and Assembly’s recent decision to prioritize services for individuals with I/DD in their one-house budgets, NYDA is now calling on the Governor’s Office to prioritize the I/DD community by advancing the budget provisions and releasing the funding that the sector so desperately needs.

“Over the last decade, the system that serves New Yorkers with I/DD has been chronically under-funded. New York State has enacted budgets and clearly demonstrated that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are not a priority and has pushed aside its family and provider partners,” said Tom McAlvanah, President, New York Disability Advocates. “But today, we see hope. Today, we see champions. Today, we see a commitment on the part of our elected officials and leaders. And we propose to leadership in both the Legislative and Executive Chambers that they partner with us to support the united community and deliver resources and financial relief to ensure that all cuts, enacted or proposed, will be restored and that Federal funding can stabilize the daily supports delivered to people and families receiving them. And finally, that they can partner with us to craft a long-term plan for the State to fulfill its moral and legal obligations to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

“The voluntary providers that provide the necessary supports and services have done more with less for a decade. We cannot continue to do that–there is now something being lost. We cannot retain and attract the staff that we need to that are so vitally important to the families. And a 0.02 percent increase in a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) over the last 11 years is in no way manageable for any entity,” said Kate Jerian, Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel, The Arc New York. “But somehow, because the providers care so deeply, the staff cares so deeply about the families and the people they support, the families have been protected as much as we can from the impacts of these various budgets that we’ve had. But this budget currently with the restorations that have been put into place by the Senate and Assembly is an absolutely necessary step, and we must build on it from here.”

Rally speakers included:

  • John W. Mannion, NYS Senate, 50th District, Chair – Committee on Developmental Disabilities
  • Yvette Watts, Executive Director, New York Association of Emerging and Multicultural Providers, Inc.
  • BJ Stasio, President – Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, Inc.
  • Margaret Puddington, Parent, Founder – Coalition of Families for Direct Support Staff
  • Thomas J. Abinanti, NYS Assembly, 92nd District, Chair – Committee on People with Disabilities
  • Anthony Ismael, Direct Support Professional
  • Kirk Lewis, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, Schenectady County Chapter d/b/a Schenectady Arc
  • Ellen Feldman, Parent, Arc New York Regional Vice President; Board Member – Broome-Chenango-Tioga
  • Counties Chapter d/b/a Achieve
  • Aileen M. Gunther, NYS Assembly, 100th District, Chair – Committee on Mental Health
  • Rosa Rodriguez, Parent, Arc New York Secretary; Board Member – Westchester County Chapter d/b/a Arc Westchester
  • Karen McMahon, NYS Assembly, 146th District, Member – Committee on People with Disabilities
  • Joseph Damiano, Self-Advocate
  • Terri Manzione, Parent, LIANDD
  • Simcha Felder, NYS Senate, 17th District, Member – Committee on Disabilities
  • Angelo Santabarbara, NYS Assembly, 11th District, Chair – Subcommittee on Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Missy Miller, NYS Assembly, 20th District, Member – Committee on People with Disabilities

New Yorkers with I/DD, and those who support them, have long-faced continued uncertainty due to chronic underfunding of programs as well as services and lack of investment in the workforce.

Additional proposed cuts in the Executive Budget for non-for-profit providers, who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, put these critical services at further risk.

NYDA is urging the State to prioritize the I/DD community through the reversal of budget cuts, investment within its workforce, and the rejection of the deferral of COLA for OPWDD programs within the enacted budget.

New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) is a statewide coalition of seven non-profit provider associations encompassing more than 300 non-profit agencies providing vital services and support to more than 140,000 New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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