December 3, 2021
Call to Action: Education Parity Needs Final Push
We need to continue our advocacy and contact Governor Hochul, urging her to sign S.6516-A (Mannion)/A.8013 (Benedetto), which amends the Education Law to establish a tuition methodology for 4410 special education preschools and 853 special education schools to provide annual growth commensurate with that of public school district foundation aid. This is an important piece of legislation to ensure all children with I/DD receive a free and appropriate public education. In recent days, rallies have been held across the state, and a story ran in multiple outlets about students who attend AHRC NYC schools and the need to properly fund their education.

This legislation has passed both the NYS Senate and Assembly and is awaiting the governor’s signature, but the clock is ticking for her to sign it. Please click here to send a message to Governor Hochul, letting her know that students with I/DD should receive the same level of education funding as those without. Public education should not discriminate, and all we ask for is parity and equity.

The Arc New York’s CEO Erik Geizer previously sent a letter to Governor Hochul strongly supporting this legislation.

ICFs to Receive DSP Longevity, Retention, and Vaccine Bonus
We have been detailing the significant American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) home and community-based services (HCBS) eFMAP investment into our workforce for several weeks, with the latest information found in our November 19 update. Previously, Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) working in Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) were not automatically eligible for the heroes’ bonus, vaccine bonus, longevity bonus and retention bonus like their HCBS counterparts, since ICFs are funded 100% by state dollars. However, we have been advised that OPWDD is now covering all four grants for ICF DSPs and submitting a state plan amendment to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to accomplish this goal. This is fantastic news and demonstrates another advocacy victory, which will result in considerable additional investment into our workforce. 

OPWDD Home Closures
As further evidence of the dire workforce crisis facings providers who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this week it was reported by News10 that OPWDD was forced to close homes and relocate people due to a lack of staff in western New York. What is perhaps most concerning is the suddenness of the action and lack of notice to families.

In response, The Arc New York has been in communication with OPWDD to raise questions about what system and standards it employs when making such a decision. As a voluntary provider of I/DD supports and services, The Arc New York must follow strict protocols to ensure a transition of this magnitude goes through appropriate channels, with many checks and balances along the way. For well over a year we have sounded the alarm about the consequences of ignoring the dire workforce crisis. We face the same issues with recruitment and retention, with fewer resources than state-operated programs. The state, as the provider of last resort, is supposed to be our safety net.

The Arc New York is planning continual conversations with OPWDD and families on this and other matters. Our advocacy efforts are not about casting blame. Our focus is on sustaining our system of quality supports and services, which is eroding before us. If we are not diligent, what we have built could come crumbling down, and that is not an option. 

Review of 2021 Justice Center Transparency Plan
As part of our continued pursuit to deepen and strengthen our relationships within state government, The Arc New York meets regularly with the Justice Center and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve the system of oversight for the people we support. One such topic we've reviewed is the Justice Center's 2021 Transparency Plan.

The plan stems from Governor Hochul's desire to create greater transparency and accountability. The administration directed heads of New York State agencies, authorities and boards to assess and evaluate their existing policies and practices and create a plan detailing their new efforts to increase transparency and accessibility in state operations. The Governor expects that all state agencies will develop, publish and implement a transparency plan. In addition to the Justice Center's plan, you can also view the report from OPWDD.

NYDA Legislative Roundtable
The Arc New York will join NYDA for a Legislative Roundtable on Wednesday, December 15 from 2-4 PM. This is an opportunity to bring legislators together and discuss our NYS budget priorities and other matters of policy affecting people with I/DD and I/DD providers. You can register for the roundtable here.

2022 New York State Legislative Calendar Released
The New York State Legislature has released the 2022 session calendar, which establishes a schedule for the upcoming legislative session and provides dates important to the legislative process. The session calendar is intended to show when representatives are in Albany and in session, with the other days spent in their home districts. The calendar also helps us shape our advocacy strategy and plan events appropriately. 

The Arc US Webinar: Enhancing Health Care for People with I/DD
For many people with I/DD and their caregivers, receiving care in a hospital setting has always been a challenging experience, and training in this area can be lacking. To help with this information gap, The Arc Massachusetts, The Arc Oregon, and The Arc US will conduct a webinar on Dec 9 at 2:00 PM to highlight available training and toolkits available for healthcare providers working in hospital emergency departments. The goal is to support equal access to emergency healthcare for people with I/DD and educate providers on this important topic through appropriate education. Education and experiential learning for healthcare professionals is essential to addressing these challenges. Register for this important opportunity here.
This and all advocacy updates are archived on The Arc New York website for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.
Contact: Philip Aydinian, Director of Governmental Affairs 
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